The Flagstaff Public Library is embarking on several technological ventures that will enhance the quality of public services and collection development. The implementation of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology will enable the library an opportunity at broadening inventory control, acting as a cost deterrent for missing items, while providing exemplary service in materials handling and streamlined organization of staff duties while reducing the potential of repetitive motion injuries.
An RFID tag with antenna attached to each library item can read the materials where they sit on the shelf without removing each item from the shelf to inventory. Currently, when an item is returned, multiple people handle it before it is reshelved, thus causing unnecessary wear and duplication of staff time. RFID eliminates this redundancy, supporting the reallocation of staff time toward working more directly with the public while reducing expenditures involved in product replacement. Additionally, it addresses the issue of accountability of items checked in or out and the end-user’s concern with tracking their activities; patrons appreciate the assurance that the library has received their returned materials.
Finally, Intelligent Return offered by Automated Materials Handling allays patron concerns involving the timely return of material to active circulation; it also ensures the distribution of books by category into their proper bin for more accurate and efficient shelving based upon the information obtained by the item’s Library RFID tag. Library patrons can be assured their borrowed material is returned to active circulation once it is deposited by means of internal or external induction and promptly processed by the AMH into a bin that will then be emptied for immediate shelving by library personnel.
On another front involving improved collection development; a State Library grant obtained during the spring of 2016 has successfully funded the scanning equipment currently being used to digitize city documents. The digitization project involves three separate collections (free of copyright infringement) that have long been housed in the Flagstaff Public Library Archive, including: Flagstaff Water History, Sedona-Oak Creek Interagency Study 1976-1984, and the Flagstaff Historic Properties Survey. Community members will benefit from this project because they will be better able to access items stored in the Flagstaff Public Library Archive that are historically significant; including people, places and events that have shaped Flagstaff’s history. These documents are not currently available through any other online resource, and will help to preserve our regional history. They are scheduled to be accessible in the public domain through the Flagstaff Public Library website and the Arizona Memory Project website affiliated with the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records Division by the summer of 2017. QCBN
William Ascarza is the collection manager at Flagstaff Public Library.