Originally Published: July 24, 2009 10:02 p.m.
When the new Prescott Valley Public Library opens Sept. 12 next to the Civic Center, it will feature the latest in high-tech equipment for patrons checking out materials and for staffers tasked with sorting through myriad returned items.
The Town Council Thursday voted 6-1, with Councilman Mike Flannery dissenting, to approve spending $267,000 on an electronic system that will speed up the circulation of books and videos streaming in and out of the complex.
Library Director Stuart Mattson said his staff began researching the technology for the system, called Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, several years ago. With RFID, a patron can set a stack of five or six books marked with RFID tags on a machine and check them out all at once.
"There will be less waiting in lines," he said. "At the new facility, we expect triple the traffic (than the current library in the Civic Center)."
To pay for the system, Mattson said the library is using $85,000 from a state grant, $159,000 from the Yavapai County Free Library District and $23,000 from the Prescott Valley Library's book budget.
In addition, the RFID will be compatible with the Yavapai County Library District, which has taken the lead to ensure that libraries in the county employ the same technology.
Mattson said within the next year, Prescott Public Library plans to tag its collection with RFID and install a bin sorter, with more to come.
"Currently, on the patron side at our library, each item is scanned individually, and many families will check out 20 or more items," Mattson said. "On the staff and volunteer side, they currently spend seven to eight hours checking in items on two stations."
PV's new library will have a five-bin sorter, with the potential for future expansion, and visitors can return books indoors or at an outside drive-up drop box.
Once placed in the drop, items travel on a conveyor belt inside the library and meet at a central point where they are automatically checked in and sorted into five categories.
With $760,000 in donations and $32,500 left over in the library budget, Mattson said the library will open with about 40,000 new items.
While most council members, including Fran Schumacher and Patty Lasker, said they were excited about the checkout and sorting technology, Flannery expressed mixed emotions.
"I really appreciate the hard work that you have done in terms of coming up with an ingenious way of paying for it," Flannery said to Mattson. "I would rather see more books out there and get the sorter at a later date."
But Mayor Harvey Skoog disagreed, saying, "I certainly agree with the concept. I think you're doing the right thing at the right time."
In other business, the council:
Approved a contract with Tony and Billie Caputo of Giovanni's Pizzeria, 8930 E. Valley Road, to operate and manage the café/coffee bar concession in the lobby of the new library.
Town staffers say the Caputos will provide the highest percentage of gross sales fees, or 21.5 percent, back to the town in exchange for a free location and utilities.
Honored Town Manager Larry Tarkowski for his 20 years of service to the Town of Prescott Valley with a plaque and a gift certificate.