NXP Semiconductors just announced a new chip, the ICODE SLIX 2, that they'll be incorporating in the RFID tags we use in libraries. RFID tags are composed of an antenna and a chip and adhesive backing. So this isn't a whole new tag but it will end up in a new tag eventually.
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Lori Ayre's blog
I just love this so I'm sharing it:
"Libraries must be places that create creators; foster makers, and push every man, woman, and child into active stewardship and becoming architects of great societies.
Are books valuable tools in that pursuit? Certainly…as are 3D printers, public access computing, technology classes, and community developed lecture series. Libraries in the states returned to the most fundamental definition of a library: a platform for the community to learn and teach.
Yes, libraries are safe places to encounter dangerous ideas, but they are also publishers of local culture and local expertise – not some paternalistic purveyors of literature. It's not about reading; it's about knowing. It's not about escape where libraries act as some sort of oasis, but engagement."
- R. David Lankes in Jelly Babies, Katrina, and Libraries (on CILIP blog)
As I've mentioned before, I'm always looking for ways to make a bigger impact in libraries. Moving more libraries into a state-of-the-art materials handling systems is one thing but getting them to redeploy staff to more productive activities is another. You can't just move someone who's been working at a circ desk all their career to a position where they are working hand-in-hand with community organizations or expect them to develop non-library services or develop non-traditional ways of delivering traditional services.
One of my former clients, the Vermont Dept of Libraries, recently developed their five-year plans for LSTA, and as part of that process, they identified how the needs of their library users are changing. After conducting surveys and focus groups, they identified Vermont's "most important community needs." State Librarian, Martha Reid, puts it this way:
"The first [need is] that citizens have access to library materials, resources, and programs to support educational achievement, lifelong learning, personal enrichment, and economic wellbeing. This speaks to providing electronic resources and statewide databases and also supporting resource sharing and expanded electronic linkages. We offer our databases to libraries statewide through the Vermont Online Library, and we’ve added some great products in the last couple of years that focus on lifelong learning and workforce development. Access to resources also means interlibrary loan, where our Vermont Automated Library System (VALS) is key."
Since the late 1980’s, libraries have been slowly adopting RFID (radio frequency identification) technology as a supplement to barcodes for library material identification and also as a way to replace legacy EM (electro-magnetic) security technologies (e.g. security strips). RFID provides a single system for efficiently checking in, checking out, and securing library material and because it is based on radiowave technology, it does not require line-of-sight. Unlike barcodes, which must be scanned one a time, multiple RFID-tagged items can be set on an RFID pad and checked in or checked out.
RFID helps staff work faster and more ergonomically than one-at-a-time barcode systems. RFID is also easier for patrons to use at the self-check-out machines. Not only can staff and patrons check-out multiple items at a time, patrons are also less likely to be confused by the self-check-out process (e.g. distinguishing between barcodes and ISBN tags).
Although there are several benefits to using RFID, adoption has been slow because of the cost of implementing RFID systems and also because the technology was lacking key standards that made investing in RFID somewhat risky – until fairly recently.
I just read (much too quickly) the Aspen Institute's report "Rising to the Challenge: Re-Envisioning Public Libraries" and wow, is it fantastic!
The paper states that this is a time of "great opportunity" for communities and institutions who are willing to "champion new thinking and nurture new relationships" and that it is a "time of particular opportunity for public libraries with their unique stature as trusted community hubs and repositories of knowledge and information."
The paper provides a vision for libraries that is based on an "emerging model of networked libraries that promote economies of scale and broadens the library's resource reach while preserving its local presence."
In this vision, the key assets of the library are people, place and platform; and, the platform "provides opportunities for individuals and the community to gain access to a variety of tools and resources with which to discover and create new knowledge."
There are very practical suggestions which support the work I do including the importance of resource-sharing and collaborations across libraries. The report strongly states that we must move away from the "go it alone" approach, which, and this is partly my interpretation, we are too locked into because of the the ILS (integrated library system) model.
I'm pleased to announce that there is now a demo version of the new Evergreen web-based staff client. Check it out here:
login: admin password: demo123
It's not done yet but it already looks pretty darn good! Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to this new development including:
Atlanta, GA - May 13, 2014 - LYRASIS and The Galecia Group announce that LYRASIS will be managing and hosting the Open Source ILS Feature Comparison Tool under the LYRASIS FOSS4LIB project, beginning immediately. The move is part of the Open Source Decision Support Tools project, funded in part by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Open Source ILS Feature Comparison Tool, previously on galecia.com, is now available at https://ils.foss4lib.org/
The Open Source ILS Feature Comparison tool compares more than 1,000 features between the Koha and Evergreen open source integrated library systems, and was designed to help libraries navigate open source software options and determine the best fit for their needs. The tool was created in 2012 by The Galecia Group with help from dozens of content contributors from the Koha and Evergreen communities. The project was funded through the Empowering Libraries with Open Source project, part of an Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant awarded to the King County Library System (WA). This move is part of a wider enhancement effort on the FOSS4LIB site, with integration of the ILS feature comparison site with the main FOSS4LIB site, including unified logins and links between the two sites coming soon. The ability to compare other types of software packages in addition to integrated library systems will also be added in the coming months. After completing a registration process, librarians can create custom reports of just the features they need for their libraries. Those who have already registered can still use their login. New users can register athttps://ils.foss4lib.org/user/register.
Grand Rapids Public Library is breaking new ground again! They've implemented Smart Float in their Evergreen system. They've written the code and its working. Now they are working to get that code into the next release of Evergreen.
If you are designing a new building, you shouldn’t be considering automated materials handling (AMH). You should be planning for it.
\When we talk about AMH, we are usually referring to two components: a self-check-in machine and a sorter. With prices well under $30,000 to get a 3-bin AMH unit, nearly every library can afford one – budget-wise and space-wise. They cost less than one FTE and can take up as little as 8’x10’ in floor space meaning it costs less than the FTE it saves. And your AMH unit will never have any ergonomic injuries no matter how many returns it checks in every hour.
A 3-bin AMH is the smallest size that makes sense. It allows you to get items checked in immediately-which patrons really appreciate. And, it separates the material that needs staff attention from material that can go right back up on the shelves-which staff really appreciate. I usually recommend that the third bin be used for sorting out the returns that need to “go home” so they can easily be moved to delivery bins.
The most common size sorters fall in the 5-bin to 9-bin range. It turns out that there is a point of diminishing returns (no pun intended) when it comes to sorter sizes and these 5-9 bin sorters hit some kind of sweet spot. They are available for under $200,000 and can do the work of 2-3 FTE. They eliminate numerous steps from the materials handling workflow, and improve services to customers (instant check-in, better turnaround of library material). Every new library being built should assume they’ll have one -- and libraries that don’t have one now, should be looking into buying one.
And, in fact, many libraries are getting AMH systems for their libraries. Vendors report installing 3-4 systems per month. But, something is going wrong with many of these installations and I don’t think it is the AMH equipment that is at fault. It has everything to do with whether or not you and your staff are on the same page with the reason you’ve introduced an AMH system into the mix, and whether you've effectively planned for the changes that are required to leverage the new technology. So, what’s going wrong?