Local News

Friday, Jan 03 2014 06:35 PM

Self-checkout comes to Beale Library

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    New scanners at Beale Memorial Library are letting people check out their books on their own. The service premiered in December and is scheduled to be added at other county libraries over the course of the year.

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Seventy-one-year old Forrest Saulsbury uses one of the new scanners at Beale Memorial Library that allow people check out books on their own. Veronica Watson, an office assistant clerk at the library, is ready to help Saulsbury with the new process should he need it.

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BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

Sally Pollock didn't even blink at the bar code scanner and touchscreen on the counter at Beale Memorial Library Friday afternoon.

She simply scanned her library card, waved a copy of Statistics for Dummies under the scan wand and checked the book out.

No line. No librarian. No problem.

Pollock, who recently moved to Kern County from the San Fernando Valley, was making her first visit to Beale.

Checking out her own library book with a scanner was nothing new to her.

"They have them all over down there," she said.

But self-checkout stations are definitely new in Kern County.

Kern County Library Director Sherry Gomez said the scanners and touchscreens went in at Beale in December and, over the course of 2014, will be added to other library branches around Kern County.

She said the systems give librarians a break and allow them to dedicate more time to other duties.

While library staff have been helping people learn how to use the system, the basic operation is simple.

A patron scans his or her library card in a barcode wand mounted on the checkout counter at the library.

A screen showing the person's account details pops up, and with a quick swipe of a book or two, the person is heading for the door with his or her selections and a borrowing receipt.

And there are still library staff around to answer questions or offer a quick tutorial for the curious.

Rodger Grass has already used the scanners a number of times and likes them.

"It's a really good system," he said. "Staff were really good at explaining it the first time I used it."

Library workers said that about half of the patrons are using the new screens.

Alma Jaimes, who spent some time with library staff after using the touchscreen, said she prefers the personal touch she gets from a librarian.

"It's better with the people," she said.

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