Iredell County Public Library planning to install self-checkout system
BY HALEY JONES
Iredell County Public Library patrons will soon be able to check out books on their own using a stand-alone kiosk.
Earlier this year, the library received a $100,000 grant from the State Library of North Carolina. County commissioners approved a local match of $25,000 to install the self-checkout kiosk system, which uses a Radio Frequency Identification system (RFID).
The system will be installed first at the Statesville branch and then expand to the Harmony and Troutman branches. The Mooresville library already utilizes self-checkout capabilities.
Will this make libraries more impersonal?
Rebecca Lopez, J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman Library branch manager, and Juli Moore, Iredell County Public Library assistant director, said that’s not the case.
“Most patrons are familiar with library staff trying to juggle many things at once,” said Lopez. “With the new system, we’ll have more time for (the public).”
Moore added that the free time provided by the self-checkout kiosks will allow for more programs.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity,” she added. “We can get out from behind the desk and engage with others. It will be great for both the staff and the public once the project is implemented.”
So how does the process of self-checkout work?
As opposed to the traditional checkout method of scanning a bar code, library patrons will scan their library card and then place their items on an RFID pad. The kiosk will read all the tabs at once, and check out the patron in seconds.
“It’s fast and seamless,” said Moore.
“It’s like having extra staff,” Lopez added.
The library staff recently completed the process of researching companies who provide the RFID kiosks. With approval of commissioners, the project could be implemented by early 2018.
The conversion process involves adding an RFID tab to the system’s estimated 230,000-item inventory.
“That is the biggest time spent on the whole project,” Moore said.
The library’s goal is to tag over 300 items an hour.
Staff will rotate throughout the process, tagging the main library first and then moving to the branch locations.
The kiosks will be placed strategically throughout the library with three in front of the main desk in the main lobby. Another will be placed downstairs in the youth services section.
Initially, staff will be available near the kiosks to show the public how to use them.
“Once they see how easy and fast (the process) is, they won’t shy away from using it,” Lopez said.
Even after the kiosks are up and running, Lopez and Moore stress that staff will still be present on the floor, available for assistance.
One kiosk will also be added to the Harmony Branch Library, and two will be added to the J. Hoyt Hayes Memorial Troutman Library.