Library to get tech upgrade, study rooms

At the November 21 Pleasanton City Council Meeting, council members voted unanimously to approve the purchase of a technology package for the Pleasanton Library, not to exceed $37,000 in price. Guthrie calls the package “State of the art” and says it will help the library have more “one on one time” with patrons.

Overall, $74,000 dollars worth of technology (with some shipping expenses included) will be going towards the Library. The Library Foundation approved a $37,000 grant to go towards this technology, so long as City Council matched their gift.

The technology package consists of the rental of a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) conversion machine, an RFID station for the librarians, one self-checkout kiosk, and two RFID gates that the library will install at the front door and the back door. RFID is the same technology that retail stores use to stop theft.

The library will place RFID tags on their books, CDs, Audiobooks, and DVDs using the RFID conversion machine. The library will not be purchasing the machine, and instead will rent the machine until they have converted their entire inventory to the new system. Pleasanton City Manager Bruce Pearson said that they will be able to finish that conversion process before the new library building opens.

Library patrons that are in a hurry will be able to use the touch screen and an RFID tag reading pad at the self-checkout kiosk. The touchscreen will have space on the side for small advertisements, such as announcements from the library, public meeting times, Market Days, Cowboy Homecoming, etc.

Despite this new technology, the library has no plans of replacing people with devices. Guthrie said “Self-checkout is optional. Patrons don’t have to use it if they choose not to.” Guthrie added that librarians will still be available to check out books at the counter, help customers use the libraries technology, and help patrons find books.

The RFID gates will function the same way they do at large supermarkets: they will beep if someone tries to walk out of the library without checking out a book. The gates will also count people as they move in and out; that information is vital in winning grants and keeping track of inventory. Guthrie says that dozens of books leave the library and are not returned each year.

Guthrie says that the new RFID systems will save time “once you get everything loaded in, it will be very easy to take everything in and out. We won’t even have to open the book and mark them: just place it on the pad, and it will read it.” Once the computer reads an RFID tag on a book, all the information associated with that book will come up, which Guthrie says should cut checkout time in half.

New Furniture, too

At the November 6th meeting, City Council approved the purchase of furniture, not to exceed $140,000. The furnishing includes tables for reading, leisure, and working on the computer, as well as chairs to suit each table. The library will also purchase tables, chairs and a stage for the community center.

Two study rooms are to be built into the library, and the community center will sport a meeting room. Study rooms will offer a public place to do research or write away without disturbance.

Guthrie says that her favorite thing about the new library is the space it will provide both her and her staff.

Representatives of Bartlett Cocke, the contractor building the library, said that construction was on schedule and the building should be completed early next year.

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