Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Efficient Solutions for Time-Consuming Jobs in the Library: New Technology Can Be the Answer to Creating Efficiency for Libraries

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Efficient Solutions for Time-Consuming Jobs in the Library: New Technology Can Be the Answer to Creating Efficiency for Libraries

Article excerpt

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Two of the most time-consuming jobs in the library are taking inventory and keeping track of in-house uses of library material. Librarians have long been searching for more efficient solutions for these two activities. New technology can be the answer to creating efficiency for libraries. In fact, if you are a SirsiDynix library, there is an easy solution--the PocketCirc. A PocketCirc is a handheld device run through a PDA (not currently available through smartphones).

Canadian University College (CUC), a small private university in Alberta, Canada, has a small staff and has to be proactive in finding ways to streamline library projects. As a technical services/systems librarian at CUC, part of my job is to provide information on emerging technologies that will help us meet this goal. As a result, I came across the PocketCirc that SirsiDynix offers. SirsiDynix states that the PocketCirc provides "Easy online or offline access to key circulation and inventory functions. Support for various Windows Mobile and Windows CE-supported devices. Freedom to roam, so staff can get out from behind the circulation desk and into the stacks to help users, conduct daily circ procedures or large inventory projects." The PocketCirc lives up to its advertising; however, the human element needs to be added to the equation.

CUC Tackles In-House Usage

CUC is part of a consortium called NEOS libraries. (Historically, NEOS has stood for Networking Edmonton's Online Systems, but in 1995 it was changed to just NEOS). NEOS is a 17 library consortium that includes central and northern Alberta libraries.

CUC was the first library in the NEOS consortium to purchase a PocketCirc. CUC library's first use of the PocketCirc was to conduct in-house daily usage statistics during the 2010-2011 school year. The purpose of conducting in-house use for the library was to discover what areas of the library were being used by the element of the student population that did not check out library materials. This would enable the library to track what materials were in use by the students within the library. The CUC library found that the PocketCirc provided a solution to the problem.

Each day the shelver was to take the PocketCirc and scan in all books that were out on the shelving, tables, and carrels. As the year progressed, however, it became evident that the shelver was not scanning every area of the library on every day. This caused the statistics to be higher in some areas of the library than in other areas. In addition, because the shelver was not shelving all of the books as they were scanned, it was difficult to keep track of which books were scanned and which were not. This resulted in statistics that were inaccurate and unreliable. Reassessing the problem led the library to two conclusions. First, the tasks needed to be organized in a way that made it easier to keep track of which areas had been scanned. Second, it became evident that it was important to hire and carefully train the right individual to do the shelving.

Although the statistics were not completely accurate, it became apparent that the statistics could still provide useful information. These statistics could provide the library with important information about how the collection was being used. For the October 2010-April 2011 school year, 2,497 items in CUC's collection were scanned (see Figure 1). The most used collection was the curriculum collection, with a total of 1,522 curriculum-collection items scanned. This number tells us that our education students are using this collection a fair amount in the library. We could tell this by the amount of books that always needed to be reshelved, but now with the use of Directors Station, which is another SirsiDynix product we adopted, we can know exactly which items in the collection patrons are using in the library. Directors Station is a powerful tool that, according to SirsiDynix's website, provides your library with the means to "make informed, data-driven decisions by providing a unique customized view of your institution's activities and operations. …

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