published Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Cleveland Bradley County Public Library to buy new check-out technology

Jaime Butler uses a digital library catalog on a computer to look for C.S. Lewis novels at the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library in Cleveland, Tenn.
Jaime Butler uses a digital library catalog on a computer to look for C.S. Lewis novels at the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library in Cleveland, Tenn.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Cleveland Bradley County Public Library is getting a major technology upgrade intended to improve service levels to patrons and increase inventory accuracy.

The library's board of trustees voted 7-0 this week to approve spending up to $95,000 as part of an agreement with technology conglomerate 3M to install a new collection management system.

3M's attention to ergonomic detail was an important factor in the trustees' decision.

"They [3M] not only address technological aspects, but also have the human element in mind," trustee Susan Lackey said.

Ample table space at self-checkout stations for patrons and easy-to-use handheld scanner devices were cited as essential components offered by 3M, trustees said.

The new system is driven by radio frequency identification technology, which often is used in "fast pass" gasoline pump payment stations and anti-theft systems in retail stores.

The transition to the new system is expected to occur sometime in late summer or early fall, said Andrew Hunt, library director.

Current plans call for two self-checkout kiosks to be placed in the lobby and another one in the children's section, he said.

Unlike current checkout stations at the library, the kiosks will be capable of checking out multiple items at a time, making the whole process faster and easier, library officials said.

The goal is to encourage up to 75 percent of library patrons use the new self-checkout kiosks, he said.

Such an increase has to be an intentional effort and will require staff interaction during the new system's rollout, Hunt said. Library staff will be on hand to help patrons use the new self-checkout kiosks.

Board members discussed the possibility of using student volunteers for the conversion project and avoiding any library closures if possible.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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