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Thursday, December 06, 2012

Finance Board Give Unanimous Nod to Library Upgrades

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By James Lomuscio

Imagine Westport Public Library employees taking inventory and finding volumes on the wrong shelves just by waving a wand.

Or, a library member accessing every book, periodical or article on a topic from the library’s website via his or her iPad while at the beach.

With the Board of Finance’s unanimous approval Wednesday night of $259,000 for a new Integrated Library System (ILS) and a Radio Frequency Identification System (RFI) such systems could be up and running by the end of June, according to Library Director Maxine Bleiweis.

The request is scheduled to go before the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) for final approval in January.

The finance board liked the request, Bleiweis said, because of the net savings predicated by efficiencies—$437,706 over seven years. Initial savings would be about $60,000 with 75 percent of that by June 30, the end of the fiscal year.

“It’s really exciting,” Bleiweis said about the ILS. “It can analyze all of the information we now have on our website on many subjects.”

For example, she said, if one is researching rheumatoid arthritis, the system can access via the library’s website links to nearly all databases for texts and online articles—plus email the person updated information on works published in the future.

If approved by the RTM, Bleiweis said she would expect the new system to be in operation by June “because it’s a very intense process of transferring all the data from our existing system.”

Regarding the RFI system, Bleiweis pointed out that the radio frequency tabs will replace bar codes, making book checkouts faster since they will not have to be scanned.

“You’ll just put the stack down on the table, and it will read it,” she said. “It makes checking out books easier, and it makes inventory very easy. You’ll just take a wand, go to the stacks and find out what’s missing or out of place.”

The new computer system will also remind patrons when books are overdue or on hold.

“Now we have to have a third party vendor to do that,” Bleiweis said.

“These are areas in which we wish we were saving now,” she added.

Posted 12/06/12 at 11:05 PM

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