When Port Talbot Library became due for refurbishment the Council and its library team saw a bigger opportunity than just adding a cosmetic look to the Aberafan site.
On top of a complete face-lift this site was also to be a testing ground for a move to RFID technology, a first for the seventeen libraries under the Council’s control.
The overused word “challenging” was entirely appropriate in this situation as the library was gutted, rewired, carpeted, redecorated, filled with new furniture and moved to new RFID security, stock management and self-issue. Not only all within a six-week time frame but with a deadline in the week before Christmas.
The library management team felt it was important to reopen with the RFID technology working from day one, a desire 2CQR, their chosen RFID specialists were 100% behind, as it would encourage borrowers to see the new equipment as part of the fresh, stimulating library environment.
Although value for money was important in the tender process the librarians’ also needed a company who, not only providing to the demanding specifications but could anticipating problems, think ahead, check and ensure the technology would meet the objectives.
Bethan Lee, the Cultural Support Officer was impressed with the help provided by 2CQR’s team “Colin Thomas, our main contact, really knows his stuff and supported us through what was a challenging time” She was similarly pleased with the way unexpected problems were dealt with. “Linking to our LMS proved an issue with some items but 2CQR helped us both during and following the implementation of the project”.
The library has a massively friendly, community ethos and manages to blend modern facilities like apple mac and pc training suites, i-pad and smartboard assisted workshops with child-focused play areas and literacy-learning features.
And how has the RFID technology been received?
Hillary Smith, Senior Branch Librarian was enthusiastic “Customers reaction has been very good…in particularly children and young people like the Totem, self- service units. The youngest are fascinated and when we show the school groups how to use both issue and return and they say it is it “cool”.
Interestingly some older users have shown concern it may put staff out of a job! Hillary has explained that is not the case and that it enables staff to help with other issues giving them time to develop new initiatives like the exciting literacy programmes now on offer. But as Hillary accepts “Some of the older customer still prefer to use the desk, usually out of habit but also for the opportunity of an “informal discussion”!”. Alongside the feel-good factor the self-service units are proving themselves invaluable in the busy lunchtime period when library staff are juggling their breaks just as the local office staff are popping in.
Despite all the hard work the whole project has been a great success.
Bethan concludes “Of course we have learnt a lot and will look forward to using this experience should we convert other sites. Most importantly we have see that with good planning, hard work by our staff and support from our chosen partners we have been able to make a real difference to the library offering in Aberafan!”