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Library to introduce new identification system

Users of Mt. Lebanon Public Library can soon expect faster checkouts and better customer service, library officials say.

Officials will use about $40,000 of a $55,000 Friends of Mt. Lebanon Library gift for a radio frequency identification system.

“The system would allow our library to offer faster checkout, improve our inventory methods, and provide better protection against theft and allow our staff to provide better direct service to patrons,” said Friends President Greg Volitich said.

Radio frequency identification technology allows a device to read information contained in a wireless device — tag — from a distance without making physical contact or requiring a line of sight between the tag and item. When an item is scanned, the transaction will be noted on the library user’s account.

With approximately 168,000 items in its inventory, Mt. Lebanon Public Library is one of the top four libraries in circulation in Pennsylvania and will be the second public library in Allegheny County to use the system, Volitich said. Northland Public Library in McCandless installed the system in 2005.

“It eases the burden of checkout and getting materials into the system,” said Northland Public Library spokesman Frank Gilbert. “The system is multipurpose because now people won’t have to wait for someone to check them out and the staff can do other things that are needed.”

Other libraries in the county are considering the system, said Ernest Williams, manager of technology and planning for the Electronic Information Network in Oakland. The network, part of the Carnegie Library system, maintains an online catalog and provides Internet access to more than 80 library locations in Allegheny County including Baldwin, Bethel Park, Monroeville, Oakmont, Plum, Sewickley, Shaler, Scott, Wilkinsburg, and Tarentum.

“We’re looking at the feasibility of doing it,” Williams said.

No date has been set for the installation of the radio frequency identification system at Mt. Lebanon Public Library. The remainder of the Friends gift will be used to fund children’s programs and to help establish a book processing network in the future.


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