8/18/12

LIBRARY ENHANCEMENT PROJECT

Our library has a long and rich tradition as an important institution in the community.  This story dates to 1891 when the first public library was established here.  Over the years, the library has evolved and changed.  Today the Pueblo City-County Library District resembles that library from the 19th century, but the differences are significant. 
In 1891 public libraries were mainly about storing and accessing books, which was a primary information media at that time.  But access came with a price.  Items were checked out to individuals who were able to afford an annual five dollar fee to belong to the library.  Today, of course, checking out books from the library is free and open to the public.  This is not the only thing that has changed about the library.  From one location, now there are many, including a main library plus several branch and satellite locations.  The modern library has moved far beyond books, too.  We now offer a variety of information formats for use, including magazines, newspapers, DVDs, CDs, eReaders, laptops, tablets, special collections and archives, and more.   The availability of public access computers and online resources are very popular and important parts of today’s library.  The modern library also provides a variety of other resources such as multi-purpose meeting rooms, which are available for complimentary use, as well as programs and events intended to connect the members of our community with opportunities for lifelong learning, the joy of reading, and the exchange of ideas.
The use of library resources has increased over the years.  It was in 1917 that the library first checked out more than 100,000 items in a year.  In 2012 our library will check-out nearly two-million books and other materials.  More than one million people will visit the library this year, around 500,000 will log-on to library computers, and some 150,000 will attend library-sponsored programs and events.  As use has increased, the library has evolved and changed to keep up with demand.
Some important new changes to the library will occur soon in order to continue our positive and popular engagement with the community.  In the coming months, the library will “re-tool” in order to increase our effectiveness.  We will implement new book tracking and management equipment at the main library and each of the branches.  This will include equipment to more efficiently check-out, check-in and sort books and other library materials.   This new technology is known as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Automated Materials Handling (AMH).  RFID and AMH equipment installed in our libraries will allow us to reduce materials handling, ease collection inventory maintenance, reduce staff time to process materials, and improve customer self-service. 
In the past year, we have worked with experts in this field to assess PCCLD’s current library material procedures in preparation for RFID and AMH implementation.  We have developed strategies for selecting and implementing an RFID and AMH solution meeting the goals and addressing various needs of the library district.  We prepared a Request for Proposal for announcement to RFID and AMH vendors and awarded contracts to the winning bidders earlier this year.  We now are acquiring the necessary hardware and software, and are beginning implementation. 
As an integral and important part of this update, we will be redesigning aspects of our libraries to best integrate the new equipment and utilize retail marketing techniques to better highlight library materials and circulation activities in an inviting and delightful manner to attract customers and continue to increase use of library materials.  We are working with an architectural and design firm to improve some aspects of the layout of the Rawlings Library, the Barkman Library, the Pueblo West Library, and the Lamb Library in order to promote use.  We are now preparing to incorporate these design recommendations as an action plan for reducing clutter, building brand awareness, offering pleasing displays, aiding the shopper, “cross selling,” and creating a positive “greeting zone” for customers. 
These changes are significant and include revising current procedures and practices to take best advantage of the new equipment and unveiling the new service model to the public by early 2013.
This library enhancement project is significant.  We believe it will better enable us to meet our mission of encouraging the joy of reading and providing free and open access to information for all.  For more than 120 years the library has been advancing in its mission to the community.  In the coming few months step this tradition of growth and improvement will continue as the Pueblo City-County Library District takes an important step into the 21st century.  

LOCAL HISTORY AT THE LIBRARY by Jon Walker

Our community enjoys a rich and diverse history.  This is the story of the people and events helping to shape the saga of this region over ...