News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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May 17, 2011

Self-checkout system may be next step at library

Board OKs seeking proposals for installation

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County Public Library board of directors is giving a green light for the library to look into a self-checkout system for library books and other materials.

The board voted without opposition Monday night to give Nancy Dowell, library director, authority to seek proposals for the installation of an updated inventory control system, that would include self checkout and new security “gates” that alert library staff when materials are being removed without proper authorization.

Other libraries across the nation and within Indiana have already started adopting self-checkout systems, Dowell said. Such a system in Vigo County could eventually allow the library to – through attrition – reduce staff and also permit existing staff to spend more time helping patrons as opposed to checking out materials, she said.

The system would also allow speedier check out of materials, Dowell noted.

The current security gates at the VCPL are 12 to 15 years old, Dowell said. Finding parts for those gates is becoming more difficult, making this a good time to investigate a new, more modern system, she said.

A self-checkout system – which would be linked to a new security system – could begin operating at the main branch of the VCPL downtown by the end of this year, Dowell said.

• Meanwhile, Dowell told the library board that the VCPL did not receive a 2012 “Big Read” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. This will be the first time after five consecutive years that the VCPL has not received the grant, she said. Nevertheless, the library hopes to find a similar program to offer in 2012, Dowell said.

The Big Read is a program that promotes literacy and the reading of a particular author or book. This year, the Big Read focused on the work of American author Edgar Allan Poe. The Vigo County Public Library was probably the only library in the state to receive Big Read grants for the past five years, Dowell noted.

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

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