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Mar 31, 2014
If you are designing a new building, you shouldn’t be considering automated materials handling (AMH). You should be planning for it.
\When we talk about AMH, we are usually referring to two components: a self-check-in machine and a sorter. With prices well under $30,000 to get a 3-bin AMH unit, nearly every library can afford one – budget-wise and space-wise. They cost less than one FTE and can take up as little as 8’x10’ in floor space meaning it costs less than the FTE it saves. And your AMH unit will never have any ergonomic injuries no matter how many returns it checks in every hour.
A 3-bin AMH is the smallest size that makes sense. It allows you to get items checked in immediately-which patrons really appreciate. And, it separates the material that needs staff attention from material that can go right back up on the shelves-which staff really appreciate. I usually recommend that the third bin be used for sorting out the returns that need to “go home” so they can easily be moved to delivery bins.
The most common size sorters fall in the 5-bin to 9-bin range. It turns out that there is a point of diminishing returns (no pun intended) when it comes to sorter sizes and these 5-9 bin sorters hit some kind of sweet spot. They are available for under $200,000 and can do the work of 2-3 FTE. They eliminate numerous steps from the materials handling workflow, and improve services to customers (instant check-in, better turnaround of library material). Every new library being built should assume they’ll have one -- and libraries that don’t have one now, should be looking into buying one.
And, in fact, many libraries are getting AMH systems for their libraries. Vendors report installing 3-4 systems per month. But, something is going wrong with many of these installations and I don’t think it is the AMH equipment that is at fault. It has everything to do with whether or not you and your staff are on the same page with the reason you’ve introduced an AMH system into the mix, and whether you've effectively planned for the changes that are required to leverage the new technology. So, what’s going wrong?
Mar 25, 2014
The folks at NOBLE, who are part of an Evergreen consortium, have put together a nice, clear YouTube video showing their users how to manage their Holds including how to Suspend and Activate Holds without losing your place in the Queue.
Everyone needs this video for their users! Check it out:
Feb 19, 2014
Yo! California Libraries! We're going to be crowdsourcing the vote for the proposals for CLA Conference 2014 in Oakland. Last year, we submitted only a small portion to the crowd vote but this year, our plan is to submit most of them to you to decide. So, don't you want to know if what you have to contribute is just what people want to hear??? You've got to submit a proposal to find out!
Conference is in fabulous Oakland, CA November 7-9, 2014. Info at https://conference.cla-net.org/2014/.Deadline for submissions is March 14 at 5pm PST.Submit your proposal here: https://conference.cla-net.org/2014/call-for-proposals/
Jan 27, 2014
To successfully roll out RFID, it is critical to establish a clear set of priorities for doing so and to continually make choices based on those priorities. Decisions must be made about how the system will be configured to suit the workflow you want to use. Remodeling may be required to locate equipment where it will be most effective. Signage and patron assistance will be required. Oftentimes, circulation policies need to be modified or materials security strategies need to change.
Jan 8, 2014
I'll be doing another webinar for Infopeople soon. This one is Optimizing Materials Handling on the Cheap: How to Lean Your Workflow. I hope you'll attend! More info below...
Date: Thursday, January 30th, 2014
Start Time: 12 Noon Pacific
- Is your backroom overrun with book carts full of in-process material?
- Does it take more than a couple hours to get your incoming delivery processed?
- Does it take three days to catch up after a holiday closure?
- Does it take more than four people to get a new acquisition into circulation?
- Can you easily determine the age and status of items on every book cart?
As much as we love our book carts, they have helped us develop some very bad habits, and Lean will help us reduce or eliminate some of these bad habits. Lean is a management philosophy designed to identify and eliminate “waste” in a workflow. Waste can be any number of things including waiting, unnecessary handling or transport, duplicating steps, processing that doesn’t provide any benefit to the customer, and unnecessary hand-offs. By eliminating these wastes, we can find an optimal workflow that will get items to our customers faster and reduce our costs.
Nov 7, 2013
I just came back from the California Library Association Annual Conference (which was a big hit, by the way!). As usual, I made my way through the exhibits talking with the vendors about ongoing projects and how things are going. This time, I came away a bit frustrated because it seemed like so many AMH and RFID projects appeared to be going a bit awry.
The thing is, projects can go wrong very quickly when libraries pursue complex technology implementations without retaining the connection to the "why" of the project. In order to successfully roll out a capital-intensive technology project, it is critical to establish a clear objective, or set of priorities, for doing so. And to continually make choices based on those priorities.
Oct 22, 2013
Another issue of Collaborative Librarianship is out and my Technology Matters column is about radio wave technologies and where the biggest privacy concerns really are. Some people refer to RFID chips as "tiny trackers" and that certainly makes them sound creepy. But it could be that the creepiest "tracker" out there is our beloved smartphone!
Here's an excerpt:
It is easy to jump onto the Big Brother bandwagon and wrap everything in tin foil but the fact is that a lot of these technologies improve our lives, even save lives. Also, more and more people appreciate the convenience provided by these various technologies more than they worry about the implications for privacy. It is important, therefore, for librarians to help our patrons become educated consumers so they can make choices that strike the right balance of privacy and convenience for themselves.
Sep 8, 2013
Is someone looking into the idea of using the Apple "Complete my Album" idea for enticing readers to buy e-books? If so, I haven't seen it yet but there's a LOT of ebooks stuff to read if you are really trying to stay on top of the issue. You could start with "68 essential resources for eBooks in libraries by Ellyssa Kroski." And I confess I'm not following the topic as closely as some others do.
Jun 20, 2013
Attached is a nice little article from CIO magazine about King County Library System's move from Innovative to Evergreen, their challenges, and the solutions they've employed. Here's the article.
Catalyst is interested in doing more work with libraries and now that they have some experience with Evergreen doing development and support, I imagine they'd like to get more customers on that platform.
Jun 9, 2013
I'll be at the New Berlin Public Library June 26th to talk about RFID. AFter the morning session, described below, we'll have a few hours in the afternoon for open discussion. Members of the Waukesha County Federated Library System, Eastern Shores Library System, Kenosha County Library System, Lakeshores Library System, Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System, Milwaukee County Federated Library System, and also UW-Milwaukee SOIS are invited!