Sunday, February 14, 2010
This week our library team was trained in the use of the RFID devices and technology that was installed in our library 18 months ago when it was built.
Each resource has an electronic tag, and we have security gates to let us know if the resources have or have not been desensitised or borrowed. We have just been working with this basic part of the technology, mainly because the vendor had a representative who was not interested in customer service - he wouldn't answer his phone, or emails or do anything. To get any service I had to complain to his line manager - this had to happen a number of times. Not surprisingly he was replaced, and thankfully the new guy on the block is proactive in helping us to get the most out of this very expensive technology.
We were shown how to do stocktake and shelf check with the handheld device, which not only records what it is scanning, but indicates if the book has not been returned correctly, and the order it should be on the shelf. It also finds lost books - you type in the barcode number and scan the shelves and it will locate resources that are missing in action! All this was quite easy to learn, (we now have a manual too!) and will be integrated into what we do regularly - we can check the shelves once a month to find incorrectly returned books. (Some students still, after many pleas, feel it is their duty to return books to the shelves, and only when they get an overdue notice do they tell us they have returned it!)
The new guy on the block also gave me a bill for 'maintenance and servicing'- it was equivalent to 10% of the total cost of the system - which was equivalent to about 20% of the annual library budget. I told him I wasn't going to pay for this 'insurance' when the system was basically static and docile, and if it does break, there is no way the cost of repair would come even close to the cost of the insurance, especially over a few years. He was a bit surprised that I wasn't prepared to hand over that much money. If the company needed that much for maintenance and service then the product is not worth purchasing and I would prefer to get resources into the hands of students than have to pay for ongoing technology insurance.
So now I look forward to moving forward in using this technology to improve management of the resources, and not paying the service fee!
I am also on a weeks holiday ... and for once I did not bring any work home to do ...