News From Terre Haute, Indiana

January 19, 2012

Vigo library moves toward automated checkout system

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The way we check out books from the library is about to become a whole new experience.

Vigo County Public Library board members on Tuesday evening approved a contract with 3M Library Systems to purchase Radio Frequency Identification technology, which allows patrons to check out library materials without help from a library employee.

The technology, which is becoming more common in libraries, replaces existing bar code technology, improves security and makes returning materials quicker and easier for library staff.

The board voted to spend $187,000 to purchase the technology from 3M Library Systems of St. Paul, Minn. The equipment will free up library staff to better assist patrons, said Nancy Dowell, library director. It could be ready for use by late summer, she said.

n Board members also voted to increase the salaries of library employees. Staff earning more than $50,000 annually will receive a 2-percent salary increase. Other salaried employees will receive a $1,000 pay raise and hourly employees will receive an additional 40 cents per hour, Dowell said.

The Vigo County Public Library, which operates a main branch downtown and a branch in West Terre Haute, currently employs approximately 77 people. Not including “ebooks,” the library processed up to 900,000 charged materials in 2011, Dowell said.

n Also, the library will be closing on an undetermined day soon to allow technicians to repair the downtown facility’s main electrical switch, Dowell said. The library was closed last weekend after a power outage associated with the switch’s failure caused the building to lose power.

The estimated cost of a new switch is between $8,000 and $10,000, Dowell said.

The legislative crackerbarrel session that was canceled last Saturday because of the power failure will not be rescheduled because all meeting rooms at the library are booked, Dowell said. Another crackerbarrel meeting is set for 10 a.m. Feb. 11.

Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@