Cleveland Bradley County Public Library Director Andrew Hunt continued his pursuit of radio frequency identification technology with recent presentations by two vendors.
Bibliotheca and 3M presented their items of interest to library board members and staff Tuesday afternoon.
Library books currently have bar codes employees scan for both check-in and check-out. Hunt believes advancing to an RFID system could make the process more efficient. In addition, the machines proposed by the vendors would aid in patron autonomy in the process.
Bibliotheca boasts itself as the world’s leading technology supplier to libraries. The company’s equipment covers RFID, EM/RFID and “barcode-based self-service solutions.”
According to 3M’s website, it is a “global innovation” company focused on inventing. Unlike Bibliotheca, 3M does not focus primarily on libraries. However, presentors for the company said the library services department focuses exclusively on its subject.
The transition from barcode to RFID can be extensive. Every item with a barcode must be converted to the new system. This includes equipping every item with a wireless tag, which essentially has the same information as the barcodes in a tech-based form.
Both companies showcased devices created to minimize the amount of time used in the conversion process.
Matt Bellamy, 3M representative, said Johnson County Library had 1 million items in need of conversion. Two-man teams ended up converting 30,000 per day with a high of 974 in one hour. One person is reportedly in charge of the tags, while the other worker programs the items into the system.
Representative Jeff Allen encouraged employees to have as much fun as possible with the process.
Machines presented by the 3M representatives allow librarians to check in and check out books piled 6 inches high at one time. Data is collected by the computer from the tags and inputted into the system. The 3M representatives assured Hunt the library could keep its current check-out system as the RFID program runs in the background.
Increased patron autonomy is provided through interactive self-check-out kiosks. Both companies have user-friendly machines. Similar features include payment options for late charges, large touch screens and the ability to check out a stack of books.
Representatives from 3M pointed out their self-service kiosk allows patrons to choose their own language (as allowed by the library), renew items, check holds and use smartphones with a downloaded image of their library card barcode to sign in.
Additional features of interest to library employees were the book recommendations, announcements and ease of use.
Hunt said the vendors’ presentations will hopefully help guide employees and the library board members to make the best decision for the library and its patrons.
Added Hunt, “I am excited about the process and that we are getting close to [a decision].”
Board members will discuss the information at the next meeting in April.