Largo’s Friends of the Library group wanted to do something big to help.
They came to the library board a couple years ago and asked about what type of projects it needed help funding, said Casey McPhee, library director.
After nearly six million check-ins and checkouts, it was decided the library’s aging checkout system would be upgraded, she said.
City commissioners unanimously approved purchasing the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system, a 21st century library checkout tool, at its meeting Tuesday.
“It’s very exciting actually and very generous of (The Friends of the Library) and that’s a pretty neat contribution” Mayor Pat Gerard said.
The Friends of the Library is donating $225,000 toward the system. The total cost for the upgrades is $257,600.
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The system should make check out and check in faster and more efficient at the library. Each item is coded with an RFID chip, and the system reads the RFID codes.
The library will be closed one week in May to tag materials so the devices can read them, McPhee said.
Once the materials are tagged, patrons will be able to check out both Largo books and interlibrary loan materials all at once using a self-checkout unit. Currently some materials borrowed from other libraries require a separate checkout system.
To return materials, users should be able to place materials in a chute, then watch on a video monitor as an automated materials handler checks the books back in and then does a preliminary sort to collect the materials in organized piles like children's books or books borrowed from south county libraries.
The device will allow staff to interact with the public more, McPhee said.
Many repetitive tasks will be handled automatically, so staff can help patrons more with finding materials and providing help on computers. The new system will reduce the time in the check-in and check-out process.
The device might help save some time but not enough to reopen the library Sundays, McPhee said.