After several weeks of intermittent weekend closures, the Tooele City Library has unveiled its new self-checkout technology and opened, for the first time in decades, on Monday.
The library implemented its new six-day service schedule this week, making the last of the library’s several spring 2014 upgrades available to the public. Under the new schedule, the library will open during regular operating hours on Mondays, with slightly reduced hours on Saturdays to compensate for the additional day of service.
Additionally, the library has installed a new self-checkout system. The library purchased the system, which reduced the number of additional staff needed to move toward the expanded schedule, with a $39,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The system made it possible to extend the library’s operating hours with only a slight increase to the library’s budget, and it comes with the added bonus of freeing library staff to work one-on-one with customers, said library director Jami Carter.
Though this Monday was the first day of the new schedule, Carter said the library already had patrons wandering in — especially regular computer users and teens.
“Today has been kind of slow, because it’s going to take people time to realize we’re open,” she said. “I kind of wonder how many people don’t realize that it’s new — they just came to the library and the doors were open.”
Extra staff are currently on hand to help patrons adjust to the new schedule and system, Carter added. Although the self-checkout system went live earlier this month, library staff continue to ask patrons to walk through a quick tutorial with them if they are first-time users.
It’s not a particularly difficult technology to use, Carter said, but they want to make sure that no one feels intimidated when they go to check out their materials.
In addition to checking out books, the automated system is also able to renew previously borrowed materials, put desired materials on hold, and can even pay fines.
Carter said most find the system is easier to use than they initially imagined. It has become particularly popular with children.
“There are a few people who are more concerned (about using the new system),” she said, “but we have little kids who are using it with their parents, and they love it.”
To celebrate the library’s new schedule and check-out system, the library staff has planned a community-wide event to take place next Monday. Because it will fall on St. Patrick’s Day, the library has dubbed its party “The Luck of the Library.”
Tooele City Mayor Patrick Dunlavy will kick off the ceremony with a speech, which will be followed by a skit titled “If you Give a Kid a Book,” performed by the LaForge Encore Theater Company.
For the rest of the evening, library characters will dress up as characters from the Candy Land board game and will host an interactive tour of the library intended to introduce patrons, young and old, to the variety of materials and services available to them.
The event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. next Monday. All Tooele City residents and library patrons are invited to attend.