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Library to roll out new checkout system




Staff Writer



The Lincoln County Public Library will host an open house Thursday to mark the implementation of a new self-service checkout technology at all of its branches countywide.

The radio-frequency-identification (RFID) system is just the latest of many recent improvements made at local libraries and will be launched this month.

“The main goals of the RFID project are to improve customer service, staff productivity and collection security,” Library Director Jennifer Sackett said. “The official launch will include RFID-enabled self-service checkout machines with self-payment capability at all three Lincoln County libraries. The system is designed to provide additional convenience and reduce wait times at the service desk.”

The Charles R. Jonas Library underwent significant renovations over the last few years as the system also made the leap from operating regionally with Gaston County to now flying solo.

Thursday’s open-house celebration, scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Jonas Library on West Main Street in Lincolnton, will feature various guests and speakers, including N.C. State Library Federal Programs Consultant Raye Oldham, President of Bibliotheca North America Al Coalla and Chief Operating Officer of Bibliotheca North America Gary Potts.

Library staff tagged more than 115,000 items in three months. To help monitor the collection, security gates are being installed at the Jonas Library and Florence S. Shanklin branch. In addition, the new technology will enable staff to conduct regular inventories of collections, something that was cost-prohibitive with the current barcode system.

In working over the past two years with Jonathan Seitz, vice president of sales at Bibliotheca North America (East), the staff was able to select the best-suited technology for achieving the desired results of improved service, a more efficient workflow, a better-managed inventory and material tracking and security.

“It was evident from the beginning that the intent of the team was not simply to adopt a new technology, but to find solutions to goals and objectives that would enhance the library and service to the community,” Seitz said.

He noted that patrons making use of the local libraries’ new self-checkout capabilities will have more control over their own experience, while also freeing up staff members to provide other services.

“This project was designed to benefit library users in Lincoln County by providing them with additional privacy, a more accurate library catalog, more efficient customer service and other value-added services,” said Sackett. “It will make library processes more efficient, while keeping the needs of both the independent users and those who desire more traditional service in mind. RFID technology will not meet the needs of every patron, but it is a tool which will enable the staff to better serve the residents of Lincoln County.”

Implementation of the RFID system is being funded both locally and through a $100,000 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) Grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered through the North Carolina State Library.

“This is a significant milestone since it was the first LSTA grant that the Lincoln County Public Library received since establishing itself as a county library system,” Sackett added.

During Thursday’s open house, library staff will demonstrate the use of the RFID system while answering any questions those in attendance may have.

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