More than 500 people have registered for a library card at Waunakee Public Library since the new building opened. In doing so, they’ve gained access to a service revolutionizing the information industry.
Cardholders have been given the option to check out materials autonomously.
Two self-checkout machines were unveiled during the facility’s grand opening this summer. Library Director Erick Plumb described them as the new way of doing business.
“The big difference between this library and the old library is that we don’t have a big circulation desk any longer,” Plumb said. “We essentially have four checkout stations. Two of them are staffed, and two of them are self-checkouts.”
The director said the self-service option is open to anyone with a library card.
“Anybody can use it,” Plumb said. “There are no age restrictions. You just scan your card, and then scan your items. And off you go. Because there’s no money transaction, it’s much easier to use than the self-checkout at a grocery store.”
Plumb said the purpose of the unmanned machines is to offer an alternative library experience – one that can accommodate people’s need for privacy better than the existing way of doing things.
“The idea with self-check is not to go fully automated and reduce the amount of public contact that we have as a staff,” Plumb said. “It’s more to give people choice. So if you’re one of those people who want to get in, get out and not talk to anyone, that’s your choice.”
The library director said other benefits come with the self-checkout as well.
“It also frees up staff to give attention to people who need it,” Plumb said. “And the people who don’t need assistance can take advantage of the self-service option. So I think it provides for better customer service.”
Plumb said the self-checkout feature is one of the many reasons circulation rates have improved, and why September saw 33 percent more items circulated than it did in 2018.
The director said using the self-checkout machine is a painless process.
“It takes less than a minute,” Plumb said. “But I would encourage people to get a library card, and check it out for themselves.”
Plumb recommended visiting the library website for further information.