BUFFALO - The Erie County Legislature approved a grant totaling more than $1 million that will be used to complete the installation of a self checkout system that improves efficiency in the Buffalo and Erie County Public Libraries. The implementation of this system will save $500,000 annually.
During its Oct. 14 session, the Legislature accepted the grant, released by the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority, to complete the implementation of a Radio Frequency Identification System. Already in use at the Central Branch and other Buffalo Branches, the RFID System allows patrons to check out materials without the assistance of a library employee. ID chips will be placed on all loaned materials, including books, DVDs and music CDs. The ID chip replaces the antiquated system of scanning a barcode.
The Republican Caucus, which has been working diligently to implement proficient operational practices, supports the use of this grant to greatly improve customer service and efficiency. The efficiencies enabled by RFID will help to mitigate a portion of the impact of the potential budget reductions proposed for 2011.
"This new checkout system will allow library employees to spend more time assisting patrons who are looking for materials or who need help. With proposed spending reductions in the County, we must look at ways to do more with less, and this is a perfect example of how one change will produce cost-saving results," said Republican Caucus Minority Leader John J. Mills, District 13.
According to the grant application, adopting RFID technology allows the Library to significantly decrease the amount of time spent on materials handling at each of the locations.
"The system is up and running at the Frank E. Merriweather, Jr. Library in Buffalo and 80 percent of visitors use the self check out system. It reduces operating costs and is extremely efficient. This system is a great benefit for the staff and patrons," said Legislator Lynne Dixon, District 12.
The RFID project began in 2009 with a $1.7 million grant, which was followed by additional grants totaling $444,000. All 37 branches will be equipped with the RFID system by the end of 2012.