Library RFID, AMH, and Patron Experience Consultation

Dayton Metro Library has embarked on a series of initiatives that will transition the library from a 22-outlet system with book-centered spaces to a 17-outlet system designed to better serve the diverse needs of the Montgomery County community.

The Library contracted with The Galecia Group for help evaluating the potential benefits of using new technologies to create optimized workflows for staff and improve the customer experience.

The contract included assessing the benefits, costs, and return on investment of RFID and materials handling technologies. In addition, the project included a process in which staff would learn more about the technology and participate in a series of activities that would help them envision how RFID, sorters, self check-in, and self check-out, could be employed to free up staff time and library spaces allowing staff to focus on the evolving needs of their patrons and better serve their communities.  

The Skinny on RFID and Automated Materials Handling in Libraries

This presentation was part of a three-day workshop that I delivered to Dayton Metro Library with my colleagues, Cheryl Gould and Sam McBane Mulford. Dayton is remodeling and building new libraries as well as consolidating some of the smaller branches. They have been looking at automated materials handling and RFID as possible technologies to incorporate into their new buildings.  

Rather than focusing on the requirements of the technology and letting that drive the project, we wanted to help them focus on their core library values and envision how they might change the patron experience for the better.

It was an intense three days of very hard work for the group but it went very well. They not only learned more about RFID and automated materials handling (and other self-service technologies) but they also came up with core service elements that they want to see as part of their new service model. They made informed decisions about the technologies they would like to see implemented and they even made a tentative staffing plan.  That's a LOT to accomplish in three days!

Library Materials Handling Evaluation

Lori Ayre worked with Alameda County Libraries to evaluate the materials handling operations and workflows including staffing, procedures, use of spaces and technology and interlibrary delivery. After the initial consultation, it was clear that there were numerous issues beyond the topic of materials handling that needed to be addressed.  Therefore, The Galecia Group recommended the Library form a Materials Handling Task Force to further tease out these other issues in order to put the materials handling challenges in perspective and to identify suitable solutions for the Library while developing staff engagement in the solutions. This approach was accepted and Ayre worked with the team to further evaluate the issues. Engagement was concluded with the Task Force submitting materials handling recommendations to Executive Team.

Free Consulting Available at ALA Chicago

If you are going to ALA in Chicago, you might want to take advantage of free consulting from one of the 15-20 consultants that will be providing free consulting sessions during the Consultants Give Back session.  

Find the consultant who can help you at /.  If you find someone with the right skills for your project, contact them and make an appointment ahead of time. There are some drop-in options but most of the consultants require appointments.

Library RFID and Materials Handling Consultation

Lori Ayre assisted in the selection of an RFID/AMH vendor and planning for the implementation. The project included vendor selection, RFID conversion, selecting and sizing equipment (self-check-ins, self-check-outs, sorters, staff stations), planning remodels, and working with vendor. Cheryl Gould worked with the Library to help define their service model to support their goal of 100% self-check-out.  

Top Tech Trends in Materials Handling (Back in Circulation Conference)

Presentation for Back in Circulation Conference Again held at University of Wisconsin-Madison. This updated session on trends in materials handling technology began with an historical look at how current technologies have evolved. The Speaker's Notes and Slides handout below provides speaker's notes and lots of images of state-of-the art products plus links to useful resources for getting more info.

Speakers Notes and Slides

Materials Handling Automation to Reduce Operating Costs

Co-presented this session with Alan Kirk Gray (Darien Library), Gretchen Freeman (Salt Lake County Library) and John Callahan (Palm Beach County Library). Session was sponsored by PLA.

I provided the overview of the materials handling automation market and then each presenter talked about what they learned about how to reduce operating expenses as part of their implementation and operation of an automated materials handling system.

Our key take-aways:

Planning:

Doing Your Due Diligence on an AMH Vendor

Someone recently asked me for suggestions to ask of other libraries when doing your due diligence on an AMH vendor.  I was happy to get that question because too often I think that libraries don't do an adequate job of digging into the experiences of other libraries with vendors. And even when they do, oftentimes the person providing the reference seems to have some incentive to paint a pretty picture rather than giving you the harsh truth.  I guess if they tell you about something that hasn't gone well, it suggests they did something wrong.....  

I try my best to be as honest as I can be about my assessments of vendors and libraries too!  So, if you ask me, you will get an honest answer.  I urge libraries to do the same. No vendor is perfect and no procurement, implementation, migration is either.  Don't be shy about sharing what hasn't worked well or was HAS worked well.  As my therapist used to say....it's all just information.  

Anyway, here's some questions that I recommend you ask about a libraries work with an AMH vendor: