The work has been completed by a group of volunteers and contract laborers on a tight schedule.
“We are just trying to get it done,” Hunt said of the 180,000-strong library collection. “It has gone really smoothly.”
The library board began discussion on RFID technology almost a year ago.
Hunt pushed for the conversion and encouraged the board to look into the matter. Vendors from three technology companies gave presentations to the board and library employees in late March. A decision was made to go with 3M in early May.
Work began on the tagging process once the 3M carts arrived. Two-man teams can be seen around the library going through stacks of books. Tags are placed in the book and then calibrated with the system.
On average, one person can tag 300 items per hour. A two-man team often tags 400 to 500 items, to include books, CDs, DVDs and books-on-CD.
Hunt said a third of the collection has already been tagged. New items are tagged as they arrive at the library.
The goal is to have the work completed by the end of July. Hunt said he would like to launch the RFID system by mid-August. It is believed the system will make the library more efficient.
However, some misconceptions of the tags’ technology occur as people become more familiar with the new system.
“We want to assure people that their information is protected. The only thing that is contained on these tags is a barcode,” Hunt said. “The only time it links to you is when you are checking out on the system. It doesn’t have their name on the tags or anything like that.”
The new RFID readers will be installed at the circulation desk in August. In addition, several self-checkout machines will be placed throughout the building. Hunt said two will be installed near the new books section in the lobby.
The library director predicted the most welcome and noticeable change will be patrons’ ability to walk out the door without being handed the books by an employee around the security gates. However, an alarm will still sound when a patron attempts to walk out the door with unchecked books.
“I think it will be a good thing for patrons and staff,” Hunt said. “...You will be able to check out quicker at the desk. You can handle more material with the same staff. We may move some people to provide more hands-on reader advisory. People may be able to walk patrons to shelves and help them find a book they might like.”
The tagging process will be ongoing until every piece of the collection has been calibrated to the RFID system.