Forsyth County’s next library will have a machine to handle most returns.
The library board on Tuesday approved the purchase of an automated materials handling system for the Post Road branch, expected to open in July.
The system, which costs about $173,000, will reduce the number of staff members needed to check in and sort returned materials, said Jon McDaniel, library director.
Staff at the library visited the two low bidders for the system and recommended Bibliotheca, which overall seemed more “user friendly” and had the ability to handle the variety of materials in Forsyth’s branches, McDaniel said.
“Basically, you’ll feed the books in and it will automatically check them in and sort them,” he said.
Books or other materials are inserted one at a time and the machine checks in the item and sorts it into a bin by scanning the radio frequency identification tag.
Each item takes a few seconds to be inserted into the machine.
Board member Jean Bowline recalled seeing the system at another library, where two mothers with stacks of children’s books started inserting them one at a time.
“But it was fast,” Bowline said. “I was very impressed.”
McDaniel said other libraries interviewed as part of the bid process recommended putting a window or a TV screen by the material handling system.
“Young people really love to sit there and watch all of that going through,” he said.
Other benefits to the automated system include books being checked in and made available immediately and the ability for cardholders to get a receipt as proof that they returned their materials, McDaniel said.
The branch will have an outside drive-up station and two intakes inside the library lobby that use the automated system, he said.
The desk staff will still be available to check in materials.
The branch at Post and Kelly Mill roads remains on schedule and is “progressing very well,” said Carla Beasley, assistant director for planning and facilities.
The deceleration lane is near completion and the slab for the building has been laid, Beasley said.
The trees and large shrubs have been planted and the parking lot topped, she said, which has drawn positive comments from neighbors.