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NNY libraries to offer self-checkout


Self-checkout soon will mean more than grabbing a few items at the grocery store.

The North Country Library System has created a cost-effective electronic checkout system for libraries.

“We expect some of our larger libraries to use it,” said Jerry S. Schell, the library system’s information technology manager. “Self-checkout has been in libraries for a long, long time, but it’s cost-prohibitive.”

Excluding trial runs, no system has been available to local libraries until now.

Mr. Schell said some patrons may feel more comfortable with a self-checkout system, which also could free librarians’ time for other tasks.

Library system Director Stephen B. Bolton said the cost of self-checkout systems usually ranges from $8,000 to $10,000 per library.

“We found some free software to develop them with,” he said. “Ours is $1,800.”

The Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library is testing the option. Reference librarian Yvonne F. Reff said the library intends to purchase the software soon, and an agreement probably will be signed at a board of trustees meeting.

“We just need to find the money for it,” she said.

Patrons can get a demonstration of how the touch-screen electronic system works but will have to wait until the library purchases it to use it themselves.

Ms. Reff said the library has been able to work out technical difficulties, such as a malfunctioning bar code scanner, during the trial run.

“It will talk to you and the words are also on the screen,” she said. “If you have your email in our system, it’ll ask you if you want the receipt emailed or printed. It’s pretty cool and very, very smart.”

Additionally, it will tell patrons to check out movies with a librarian and will indicate whether a fine is owed for overdue materials.

Ms. Reff said the software is easy to modify if patrons are confused by certain elements.

“If we find a message isn’t clear to the user, we can change it,” she said. “It’s very user-friendly.”

Mr. Schell said he has not heard yet from other libraries about installing the system.

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