It’s not uncommon to scan your own hardware at the self-checkout lane, and many people do the same with beans and corn at the grocery store.
Now, the next generation of do-it-yourself checkout is making its way into the Mid-Continent Library System, which serves Clay and Platte counties as well as other suburban areas.
By December, all 31 library branches will have checkout areas equipped with radio-frequency identification, or RFID.
RFID is a way of using radio waves to automatically identify library items such as books, CDs and DVDs.
Mid-Continent’s Woodneath Library Center, at 8900 N. Flintlock Road in Clay County, was one of the first branches to undergo the transition. Branch manager Kira Green said the conversion has been smooth.
“Instead of scanning one item at a time, customers can check out five or 10 items in one shot,” Green said. “We have so many busy parents and busy adults, they can really put a whole stack in there and get out even quicker.”
The Claycomo and Riverside branches are well into the transformation, too. Smithville closed last week for the conversion, and Boardwalk is closed this week to convert.
Both Lee’s Summit branches are using RFID, too.
The Colbern Road branch and the one at 150 N.W. Oldham Parkway each closed down for a time in August so staffers could place RFID tags into their circulating collections.
By storing information about a specific item on the RFID tag, the library staff is better able to find, organize and track items as they are checked in, said Dylan Little, assistant manager at the Oldham branch.
“You can manage just about every aspect of your account,” Little said. “It revolutionizes what we are able to do here.”
Joy O of Lee’s Summit visited the library last week to find books for her two children. She marveled at the technology but wondered if losing contact with staff would create a problem.
“I greatly appreciate the interaction with the librarians, too,” O said. “I usually check out books for my kids and they know my kids. I love that personal interaction. I don’t want that to go away.”
Actually, Little said, the system will give staffers more time to implement better programs and improve customer service.
“With any new technology rolling out, it’s a lot of hard work to not just get to a point where patrons are comfortable with it, but where staff feels comfortable with it,” Little said last week.
“I think we’ve seen progress over the last three weeks. In the next couple of weeks we’ll start to see a lot more confidence and be able to take advantage of some of the time-saving.”
Green, the Woodneath manager, ageed that the change will allow the library staff to better serve its patrons.
“Our customers are the most important thing to us,” she said. “Seeing how much they love it makes us love it even more. That’s why we do what we do: our customers and our community.”
▪ 31 branches of the Mid-Continent Public Library plan to install radio-frequency identification to improve tracking items in circulation.