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posted: 7/9/2012 2:51 PM

Gail Borden Public Library to host sorting competition

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Submitted by Gail Borden Public Library

Celebrating its new automatic sorting system in an event hailed as a sort of "2012 Olympic Games Preview," Gail Borden Public Library has challenged its staff to "Go for the Gold." The "opening ceremony" will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 10 at the main library, 270 N. Grove Ave. in Elgin.

Although nowhere near the stature of London's Olympic Stadium, home to the games this summer, the library will attempt to replicate exciting Olympic rituals, including the appearance of an Olympic Torchbearer, pregame parade, competition and awarding of gold, silver and bronze medals.

Library staff will compete in a race to shelve books much faster to demonstrate why a new automatic sorter system has been implemented at the main library. It will work like this:

Returned library items such as books, movies and music CDs are placed onto an opening of a tunnel. As the item moves through the tunnel, a computer "reads" the RFID tag attached to the item. The tag indicates to which "neighborhood" the item will ultimately be shelved, such as science fiction, travel or mysteries.

The item then travels along a conveyor belt and is automatically sprung into one of 28 bins set up, with each bin assigned to a specific neighborhood.

Before the automatic sorter was in place, library staff checked each returned item in via computer station, then placed the item on a cart. This task is now completed automatically, saving staff from manually checking in about 7,000 returned items each day. During peak times, returned items can exceed 11,000 for the day. The library district loans over 2.3 million items per year.

"By eliminating the manual check-in for returned items, the automatic sorter system helps the library provide more efficient service to our customers," said Library Executive Director Carole Medal. "Items are returned to the shelf at a much quicker pace, which allows those items to get into our customers' hands much sooner."

The sorting system, already in place at the Rakow Branch, is called Lyngsoe SortMate and is provided by 3M Library Systems.

"3M is pleased to be a part of this project," said Matthew Bellamy, Marketing Manager, 3M Library Systems. "The Gail Borden Public Library District is one of the busiest libraries in the country, and the implementation of automated materials handling will certainly help the library maintain its world-class service."

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