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Wilbraham discusses possibility of new technology at library

By Rick Sobey

Staff Intern

Do you remember all of those trips to the library when you had to wait in the checkout line for what seemed like an eternity? The biologist who jumped in front of you was checking out 17 books on the theory of evolution, and it was taking forever. The checkout person at the desk and the biologist would strike up a conversation, and before you knew it, you were late for picking up the children at school. Now, however, a story like this might not happen ever again.

During the March 10 Board of Selectmen meeting, the selectmen talked about improving technology at the Wilbraham Public Library by installing self checkout equipment. The selectmen unanimously approved the idea, but the self checkout equipment will not be at the Wilbraham library quite yet.

The present absence of the self checkout equipment is because the Finance Committee has not discussed bringing in the new technology. The Finance Committee must approve the equipment before it will be ready for installation.

The new system would be just like an ATM machine. A patron would have to scan his or her library card to borrow a book, movie, CD, etc.

According to Wilbraham Public Library Director Christine Bergquist, the cost for the self checkout equipment and software is $18,850. This money would be coming from the improved productivity program in Wilbraham, which developed because of the need to help funding for technology in the community.

Bergquist believes that a self checkout system at the library is quite necessary.

"We have a huge need for improvements," Bergquist said. "We are low on staff, and with this new technology, the staff would have time to work on other areas of the library. The self checkout equipment would really help staff efficiency."

The new equipment would allow workers to focus on other projects, such as the inter-library loan system. Furthermore, the technology would save 10 percent on labor costs.

Library staff are currently waiting for what the Finance Committee has to say about the possible addition to the library. The Finance Committe will deliberate about the topic in the near future.