Posted by: paultovell | March 6, 2010

RFID comes to Burton

After a very busy week which has been a long time coming, we now have self service kiosks fully installed and operational.  The first three days have gone largely without hitch, although clearly some things will take time to get used to.  But for the record, here are the good points about it:

  • Lots of people are very excited at the advent of new technology – the novelty factor.  Children and teenagers think the library is a little bit cooler this weekend than last.  Also other older borrowers are impressed by the technology too: “Isn’t it clever?!”  It’s certainly making the library look more up with the times.
  • We have been able to redesign the library as a result, making the space more inviting, the stock flow better, and also having a little more room for some previously overcrowded sections.
  • Our displays are better and more regularly topped up – so the books are perhaps issuing better (time will tell…)
  • People are paying their fines!  How interesting that people will much rather pay a machine than a human, who they can “butter up” more.  That’s when they don’t put coins in the note slots though, which has happened this week…
  • The stock is tidier as shelving gets done nearly immediately, and it makes the library look fuller because books aren’t hanging around on trolleys, but going straight back onto displays or shelves.  The two display units near the machines are functioning a bit like a “just returned” trolley.
  • People do seem to be enjoying having control of their own account and their own books.

One or two things need ironing out though – the machines have had various gripes with some books and occasionally problems counting money.  Customers have seemed quite forgiving of this for now, but perhaps the frustration will develop if it keeps happening.  Also the jobs people are doing now have changed in many ways, which we were anticipating, but couldn’t entirely imagine.  Yes, people have been “freed up” to do other things – but what those other things are has yet to be decided!  And those new “things” have got to be at least as interesting, inspiring, useful and varied as what they were doing before.  I’m not sure anything is as varied as our beloved public, but we’ll try and find out!  Whilst we could put more events / promotional things on, at the moment the machines need more supervising and more staff on hand than the old counter did, so we’re a bit limited what we can do.  I’m convinced that not every customer wants to be interrupted to talk about books, but if interacting is the key, then perhaps alternative ways of interacting – through reviewing displays etc – might be the way to go.  Jury still very much out at the moment!  But then, it has only been three days…

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