Saratoga County

Library self-service stations get rolling today in Saratoga

Saratoga Springs Public Library will open a new circulation area today on the library’s first floor,

Saratoga Springs Public Library will open a new circulation area today on the library’s first floor, along with six new self-service checkout stations.

“It really looks nice,” said Julie Moore, the library’s community relations coordinator.

Since April, a temporary circulation area has been in use while the new cabinets and equipment were installed at the library at 49 Henry St. Moore said cabinet-maker David Fuller of Chatham did an excellent job.

Issac Pulver, library director, said Tuesday that the old circulation area was sometimes called “the great wall of circulation” because of its size and the height of the counters.

The new circulation area has a lower counter and is designed to be more accessible to library patrons including the handicapped and children. The new circulation desk also features three of the new, state-of-the-art self-service checkout units.

“It’s a much friendlier approach,” Pulver said.

The three other self-checkout units — the first ever used in the circa-1995 library — are in the children’s room, the adult reference desk on the second floor, and near the movie and music recordings.

Borrowers using the self-service units will be able to use them to pay their fines and fees with cash or credit cards and will have the option of emailing their date-due receipts to themselves rather than printing them.

This was the second phase of the library’s two-year modernization and renovation program that started last year.

The library’s master plan called for renovating the entire first floor in a single year. But Pulver said the library’s board of trustees decided to do the work over two budget years so library budgets and tax rates could be kept at zero growth.

The new circulation area and improvements to the library’s security and inventory systems cost nearly $470,000. Pulver said this cost was offset by a $234,903 state grant and $50,000 contributed by the Friends of Saratoga Springs Public Library.

The Friends contribution paid for three of the six self-checkout units that go online today.

Moore said the library staff has been trained how to use the new self-checkout units so they can show members of the public how to use them.

The units will help staff deal with the increasing demand for library resources, Pulver said. Circulation of books and other items at the library has increased for each of the past five years, with the 2010 circulation setting an all-time record at 825,442 items.

With the self-checkout units, the library can keep the same level of staffing in the face of the increased demand, Pulver said.

The library is also planning improvements to the library’s second floor in the coming year, including 10 more computer stations.

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