New hi-tec self-service at library

THE days of the librarian's stamp look to be numbered in Essex following the introduction of a £350,000 high tech self-service system for checking items out.

THE days of the librarian's stamp look to be numbered in Essex following the introduction of a £350,000 high tech self-service system for checking items out.

Colchester is the first library in the country to employ the latest technology to enable customers to checkout their own book, DVDs, CDs and spoken word cassettes themselves.

Instead of queuing at the counter with the latest John Grisham thriller or stack of Shakespeare's finest, keen readers will just have to place their library ticket under a scanner and put the books onto a plate.

Whether heavy novel or small leaflet, they do not have to be opened and the computer will automatically register the items before issuing a receipt.


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The children of North Primary School in Colchester were on hand to help test the new system and seemed pleased with what they found.

Launching the service, councillor Anthony Peel, chairman of Essex County Council, said the changes would be welcomed by readers, whatever their age.

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He said: "The new self-service system is great news for library customers in Colchester.

"It not only means they will be spending less time queuing, but staff will have more time to offer help and assistance."

People will also be able to renew books and check reservations on the system.

As part of the revolution 250,000 items in the library have had their old tags removed and new ones inserted, also putting an end to library stock setting off security alarms in the town's shops.

Items which have to be paid for, such as CDs and DVDs, can also be checked out and each customer has an account of £6 before they have to settle the balance.

For those who have a fear of finding out just how much they owe in fines, the new system will help spare their blushes, but won't help them escape payment.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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