The Bradley County Commission Finance Committee has approved a move to help the Cleveland Bradley County Public Library utilize 21st century technology, and maybe even save money in the process.
The committee Wednesday unanimously approved moving $20,000 from the library’s “committed for cultural” line item to that of “other capital outlay.”
The funds will be added to the $55,000 the library has already saved through personnel moves over the last two years.
Andrew Hunt, library director, said the city of Cleveland has voiced its willingness to allow a fund transfer within the city’s portion of the library’s budget similar to the one the county committee made in the same amount.
That total of $95,000 will be used to install a radio frequency ID system that will, according to Hunt, more accurately and efficiently keep track of the library’s inventory of more that 150,000 items.
Hunt presented the request, which was approved by the Library Board last week, along with Board Chairman John Hagler.
The centerpiece of the new technology design will be three free-standing kiosks patrons of the library will be able to use to check out materials without assistance, although Hunt said library staff and volunteers would remain available to help patrons through the process.
“I want you to know the board has been looking at this system for a long time and never felt the benefits outweighed the cost in the past,” Hagler said.
He said the board had observed other libraries having problems with their own systems.
“Now, we think that’s no longer true,” Hagler said. “The costs have come down tremendously over the years, and the benefits have actually increased.”
He explained the new technology offers a wider range of services than in the past.
“We think this is the time to move to keep the Cleveland Bradley County Library abreast of what’s going on in the library world,” Hagler said.
He said the key benefit of the system is it would help customers check out materials much faster.
In a document presented by Hunt, the director said the new system would also reduce the potential of repetitive motion injuries for the staff.
It would also offer the potential to automate other manual tasks that would free up staff time from transactional-based activities, “so they can add value in other areas,” Hunt said.
The fund transfer is expected to be approved by the full County Commission as well as receive an approval from the Cleveland City Council.
Hunt was not specific as to when the system might be operational, but suggested the library would “have a big rollout” once it is in place.