Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Self-Check and Lots of Other Business at the Portage Public Library

Link to February 9 Portage Daily Register article, "Coming this year to the Portage Public Library: self-checkout".

Excerpt: By the end of September, the Portage Public Library should have a self-checkout system in place.

Each item in the library will get a radio-frequency identification tag. The RFID tags and associated checkout station will mean a patron will be able to carry a stack of books to the station, scan a library card, hold the books next to the machine and be checked out in seconds.

"It's like checking out at Walmart," said library board member and Portage School District Administrator Charles Poches in the board's monthly meeting Tuesday.

"If you've ever used the self checks, it's similar to that," said library Director Shannon Stiller.

The possibility of self-checkout probably will be the most obvious change, but the system's installation will be more sophisticated than simply adding another bar code reader to the checkout counter and opening it to patrons.

Bar codes have to be scanned. RFID, as the name implies, works by using radio waves, which are sent from the checkout reader to a tag in or on the item. There is no need to even open a book to check it out.

The use of RFID also opens the door to other library services:

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