Los Alamos County Library System gets upgraded

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By Kirsten Laskey

Work to include new self -checkout stations and security gates within the Los Alamos County Library System started at least three years ago. On Wednesday the library system staff and community celebrated the fruits of that labor.


The new features were recognized with a ribbon-cutting, a presentation and a cake. Participants were introduced to the new stations and security measures at Mesa Public Library.


According to a library press release, staff members tagged all the books, CDs, DVDs and other materials with RFID labels, or Radio Frequency Identification tags. As a result, each item in the libraries has a new label that consists of a computer chip and an antenna, which can be read by the newly installed equipment.


In Mesa Public Library, there are four self-checkout stations and White Rock features one.


The benefits of the self-check system, the press release reports, include privacy for the patron and an accurate inventory for the library.  


“The self check-out stations are going to offer patient convenience and privacy,” Circulation Manager Jean Moses said.


The press release further stated that both libraries also now feature security gates, which are located at the main doors in each library.


The gates will prevent tagged items from being removed from the libraries without being checked out.


“The security and inventory are going to ensure what’s in the library catalogue matches what’s on the shelf,” Charlie Kalogeros-Chatton, library manager, said.


Moses said the staff had been practicing with the self-check stations for a week and the security stations were turned on Tuesday.


The total cost of the project was about $230,000 for equipment and tags and there were additional costs for staff training, building modifications and other factors.


Kalogeros-Chatton said the money came from leftover funds from the community services’ 2008 fiscal year budget. Community services include Los Alamos County Parks, Recreation and Library. Additionally, the Friends of Mesa Public Library contributed more than $60,000 to the project.


Although the money purchased the equipment, during the ribbon cutting, Kalogeros-Chattan recognized a few people’s work that was essential to the project.


People who were recognized included County Councilor Robert Gibson, facilities maintenance workers Keith Yeske and Allen Sherwood and Moses.


White Rock Library Branch manager Gwen Kalavaza, Debbi Croney, the library board and volunteers were also thanked for their contribution.


To the volunteers, Kalogeros-Chattan said, “It wouldn’t have happened without you.”


Seeing the self-check out and security systems set up and operating, Kalogeros-Chattan said, “I feel really grateful to all the staff and volunteers that work so ungrudgingly to get us ready.”


 She added the project was needed because, “We didn’t have the means to do a decent inventory.”


The library system did not have a good way for finding materials and would sometimes come across items that were suppose to be on the shelf, but were not. Kalogeros-Chattan said.


Moses credited the team effort for making the project so successful. “I think everybody bought into the value of this system and they were highly motivated,” she said, “because of the benefits of the services and what it would do to maintain the collection.”