Wanstead Library: the next chapter

IMG_1387IMG_1387Wanstead Library

Wanstead Library reopened at the end of January, following six weeks of closure for the installation of new equipment. Steve Roberts, from Axiell – the company behind the new systems – explains the benefits.

Customers at Wanstead Library can now benefit from improved services following the installation of new technology. Redbridge Borough Council has installed self-service facilities and upgraded the reception and display areas, utilising the latest Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to identify the library stock.

RFID allows an item to be tracked and communicated with by radio waves. RFID is a broad term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify people or objects – the use of which reduces the amount of time required to perform circulation operations. The most significant time savings are attributable to the facts that information can be read from RFID tags much faster than from barcodes and that several items in a stack can be read at the same time.

This new technology will help reduce valuable staff time spent scanning barcodes while checking out and checking in borrowed items, enabling the library to extend its opening times from 45½ to 61 hours per week. Staff will now spend more time 'floorwalking' and approaching customers directly as they no longer have to man a counter.

The two new 'Venus' self-service machines allow users to borrow, renew, or return items; check their account status, fines, reservations and transaction history; and even pay fees by cash without the need to seek help from library staff. The public interface is easy to use and has simple video instructions to help the user every step of the way.

Self-service technology will also allow the library to stay up to date and continue to be a technology leader in the community. It is a vital new resource in the ongoing effort to increase efficiency and maintain high levels of customer satisfaction.

In the future, Axiell firmly believes that Web 2.0 will bring exciting innovations which will make physical and digital items more accessible. Mobile phone applications, for example – which use the latest developments in technology, combined with quality standards of library services – will enable a great interactive experience.

As library usage moves from traditional face-to-face activity to new forms of interaction, libraries can build on these new uses through the fostering and creation of new customer interfaces, discussion groups and online activities.

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