MONTCLAIR, NJ - The Montclair Public Library (MPL) opened this morning offering coffee, donuts, and a new radio frequency ID system (RFID). During a ribbon cutting ceremony at MPL on Tuesday, a new RFID self-checkout system was unveiled to the public.
David Hinkley, director of MPL, said a few words as they inaugurated the new self-checkout system, made possible with a matching gift from the Josh and Judy Weston Foundation. The system uses the same technology used in E-Z Pass tags which allows for security, tracking, and speed. It improves inventory control, which also aids in searching for returned items.
Library officials express that the RFID is simple and efficient and the staff is not going away, but will still be there to help. Standing in line for checkout will continue to be an option and there is no need to update library cards. Nothing changed for patrons, other than a quicker mechanism is being offered for checking items in and out.
The indoor return machine is also new. There is a conveyor belt to scan, recognize, and separate books as they glide into the correct return bin. Additionally, patrons can print out a receipt when they return their books.
The first person to use the machine was a young man named Steven Choi, who sped through his checkout. When asked if he liked it, Choi replied, "It’s fast. Although I agree it's very convenient I happen to be a conventionalist. I disagree with having more machines, because these days it's another thing that can take librarians’ jobs. I feel that technology is limiting job opportunities."
When asked what his take was on Choi's opinion, Hinkley said "I believe the new system actually frees people up to be human. The robotic action of the return is freed up. They will be more available to interact as people."
Leigh Pallante was returning her book on her way to work. She not only enjoyed the convenience of the quick return, but also the proof she received in hand. Pallante said, “I like the machine because there have been errors when I returned to my books in the past, and now you print out a receipt and can prove you returned it, and that makes me happy."
Walter Clark, staff member, was very happy with the new system. When asked if he thought machines could cost staff jobs, he smiled and said, “Absolutely not. I will be out on the floor more than I am behind the desk. If anything I will be free to help and interact in a more dynamic way, as opposed to doing a mechanical job behind the desk.”