Posted by: bluesyemre | May 19, 2018

#Bibliotheca offers unstaffed hours solution


Technology and automation vendor bibliotheca has launched open+, an access and security solution that enables libraries to expand open hours to times when the library is unstaffed. The system includes an external panel that scans and authenticates a patron’s library card barcode via the integrated library system (ILS) to admit them into the building; security cameras to monitor activity during open+ extended hours; an integrated public address system to broadcast messages or alerts; power management features to remotely turn on or turn off lights, alarms, or library equipment such as public computers and self-service kiosks; and a web-based scheduling and management interface.

The U.S. launch follows deployment and testing at Gwinnett County Public Library, GA (GCPL); Hennepin County Library, MN (HCL); and Ventura County Library, CA (VCL). Each use-case was unique, but officials at all three libraries said that there had been no staff cuts resulting from the use of the system, and that thus far, there had been no issues involving patron misbehavior.

GCPL executive director Charles Pace said that open+ was implemented as “one small part of a bigger overhaul” of both the library’s technology and its service model.

GCPL dealt with years of budget cuts during the recession that began in 2008. In an attempt to maintain service, the library had developed a system of offsetting open hours at different branches.

“The idea was that, if your branch was closed, you could find another branch that was open…. but it was confusing” to patrons, Pace said. So, when he was hired in December 2013, one of his mandates was to expand and standardize hours across the 15-branch system.

The library’s operating budget was still lower than it had been prior to the recession, and efforts to obtain ongoing funding for additional staff were unsuccessful. However, GCPL had been planning a replacement of its RFID system, which was reaching end of its life cycle. As the library was investigating its options, “we realized there had been a lot of advancements in RFID technology that were going to allow us to automate a lot of functions that previously had been very labor intensive.”

Automation hardware such as self-check stations enabled the library to “completely revamp” its staffing model, removing service desks at all branches and switching to a mobile, point-of-need service approach, and adding 105 open hours across the system. In addition, during this process, GCPL officials learned about open+, which has been used by public libraries in Europe since 2007, and approached bibliotheca about testing the system in the library’s headquarters location in Lawrenceville.

“We’ve geared our system around the idea of access,” Pace said. “Taxpayers are paying for these buildings and paying for these collections, so our philosophy is that they should have access to them as much as possible.”

After GCPL installed open+ in May 2016, adult cardholders in good standing were invited to sign up for early admission to the Lawrenceville branch, beginning at 8 a.m.—two hours earlier than the public opening time of 10 a.m. Pace said that some library staff are typically already in the building during those hours, doing administrative work. Last fall, the branch also began offering extended open+ evening hours, from 8 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Since no library staff are usually present during those evening hours, a security guard was hired out of an abundance of caution, Pace said.

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