Every once in a while I get a call from someone with an idea they want to explore that just makes no sense at all. At least not at first. The latest zany idea a client brought to me is a concept they dubbed, “pure central processing” and although my first response was, “You can’t be serious” it is definitely growing on me. Their idea was to eliminate check-in at each of their branches entirely by letting people return things but instead of checking them in there, the items would be taken elsewhere for check-in and then brought back later. They weren’t talking about moving from a staff check-in experience to a self-service check-in experience. They were talking about eliminating the check-in transaction and associated workflows from public service library staff and the library environment entirely.
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The Barrie Public Library is a two branch system based in Barrie, Ontario. The Library serves one of the fastest growing communities in Canada and the Library expects to grow to a six branch system by 2031, with the first two branches proposed for 2022 and 2024. The Library seeks assistance in achieving higher levels of service performance and increasing efficiencies especially in the area of holds process, sorting, and delivery.
The scope of work with The Galecia Group includes a combination of materials handling analysis and recommendations provided by Lori Ayre along with change management, team building and leadership development workshops delivered by Cheryl Gould.
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.
This one-day presentation and workshop was sponsored by the libraries in SE Wisconsin including Waukesha County Federated Library System and Milwaukee Public, and UW-Milwaukee. The session included a three-hour presentation that introduced RFID technology and then worked through all the issues relevant to libraries considering or using RFID in libraries.
Infopeople webinar highlighting the trends in materials handling including:
- Pricing of AMH systems going down
- Quality of AMH systems going up
- Automated check-in with sorting becoming standard
- Kiosks a hit but still a tad buggy
Lots of info about automated check-in systems, small sorters, advancements in sefl-check-in technology, kiosks and dispensers and new AMH products entering the market.