Implementing self-checkout in public libraries has definitely reached a tipping point—there’s no reason not to offer any of a number of options. Patrons appreciate the convenience (and privacy) of self-checkout and staff time is shifted from barcode scanning to check out lines of restless patrons.
But libraries aren’t so sure whether the benefits of adding RFID or automated sorting systems outweigh the costs. I’m convinced that the benefits are substantial for all sizes of libraries—and not only in saving staff time for other priorities but in improvements to the patron experience.
- As great as barcode self-checkout is, adding RFID will absolutely amaze your patrons because they can check out a stack of 6-8 items in one step. No more barcode scanning…ever!
- Using RFID for routine materials handling by staff is 50% more efficient than barcodes. That means delivery bins and book drops are cleared faster, materials are back on the shelves faster and waste less valuable time sitting in the back room. More materials for patrons to access!
- Security is a built-in benefit of RFID—so why not take advantage of the tag to reduce risk of loss of materials? Especially when self-checkout is a simple one-step process for patrons?
- Shelf management with RFID means staff can check for exception statuses, staff error and weeded materials with a scan of the shelves. Patrons appreciate a more accurate online catalog.
- Automated sorting systems with as few as three bins check in and separate materials ready to re-shelve from items trapped for hold requests, transit or other special handling. Sorting systems also re-set RFID security on the tags to protect materials.
- Sorting systems work 24/7 to check in and sort returns when the library is closed. Patron experience is enhanced with drive-up book drops and interior book drops that check in materials immediately to avoid overdue fines.
- Finally, Tech Logic’s UltraSort sorter uses the same “Throw & Go” design behind the scenes for any materials staff wants to check in. Staff induction saves countless hours of time from routine check-in to move to other priorities.
The sum of time savings, streamlined back room processing, patrons thrilled with RFID self-checkout and 24/7 check-in, as well as streamlined shelf management, adds up to big returns for libraries investing in RFID and AMH!