News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 19, 2013

Self-checkout feedback positive, new library director says

The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — New self-checkout and return equipment has created a changed experience for patrons of the downtown branch of the Vigo County Public Library.

Four self-checkout kiosks are stationed in the library lobby along with staff to answer questions about, or help operate, the new machines. Meanwhile, automated self-return windows are up and running along the lobby’s southwestern interior wall.

“Customer feedback has been pretty enthusiastic,” said Kristi Howe, the new library director, speaking after the first VCPL board meeting since she took over the top spot Feb. 1. All of the new equipment has been operational since last week, she said.

The new equipment, manufactured by 3M Library Systems of St. Paul, Minn., includes sorting features so that returned materials are automatically separated by category, Howe noted. It’s all part of a $200,000 library renovation that started last year.

Many libraries across the country have introduced automated materials-handling equipment in recent years. The automated library equipment industry reached $750 million in the U.S. and Canada in 2011, according to Library Journal, a publication. As a whole, libraries are facing funding cutbacks and can justify new equipment purchases only if the new technology can create savings in other areas, the publication stated.

Meanwhile, Jackie Lower of the Wabash Valley Community Foundation presented two checks to the VCPL board of directors Monday evening for nearly $1,000. The funds were from two endowments established to assist the library.

The Wabash Valley Community Foundation, established in 1991, has endowments totaling $38 million, Lower said, adding that the foundation supports charitable causes in the area through interest earned on those funds.