When Aurora Public Library embarked on a $30 million building program two years ago, it was with the understanding that $28 million would go toward a new downtown library and $2 million would be used to implement changes to the library's branch locations.
Construction of the new library building, named for Richard and Gina Santori, is under way on the corner of River and Benton streets downtown. A family computer lab and a quiet study room have opened at the Eola Road Branch, and three quiet study rooms and a conference room have been completed at the West Branch.
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The key word in the planning for not only the new library, but the branches, including the Express Center on Church Road opened in fall 2012, has been technology, said library board President John Savage.
The next step in upgrading technology at the Eola Road Branch is utilizing the recently-installed automatic material handlers.
"The automatic material handlers, or sorters, will check in books and other materials immediately, freeing library users to check out new materials right away," Savage said.
"We committed two years ago to improve technology at all locations, we began the process right away, and we are now implementing the things that will make using the library easier for citizens."
"The process of manually checking in books, which is time- and labor-intensive, will be handled quickly with our new automatic material handler system," said library Director Eva Luckinbill, adding that "checked-in materials will be available for new patrons to check out more quickly. This is important when there are a number of patrons waiting for a popular book or DVD."
The Eola Road Branch is the first of the Aurora library locations to have the equipment installed. Patrons will be able to check in books, CDs, DVDs and other materials using the new system beginning Monday, April 14.
Going hand-in-hand with the sorting system is Radio-Frequency Identification conversion. Materials at the West Branch and Express Center already have been labeled with RFID tags, and the process is ongoing at the Eola Road Branch.
RFID is a technology that can be used to identify, locate and track the movement of library materials using radio waves. It is similar to bar code technology, but one difference is that RFID technology has the ability to read multiple items simultaneously.
Library patrons already have begun seeing self-service checkout kiosks as well as security gates at the Eola Road Branch. The West Branch has had security gates installed, and updates to the self-check stations are coming soon.
The new Santori Library will open with RFID and an automatic material handler, said Main Library Coordinator Beth Bumgarner. "The board, administration and staff are pleased to be able to offer these efficient and effective technologies to the Aurora public."
Eola Road Branch Circulation Manager Crissy Barnat, who is a recent Aurora Public Library hire, said she is "very excited to be working with RFID checkout technology.
"Patrons are very surprised that materials check out so quickly," she said. "They think the technology is cool and efficient. Children are enjoying using the self-service kiosks. In addition to this, the sorter machine will provide live check-in times and will allow patrons to fully utilize library resources."