ENCINITAS – We stay in touch with our humanity – that’s what we do at the library, Director of San Diego County Libraries Jose Aponte, said.
And now, with some newly installed technology at the Encinitas Library, volunteers and library staff will have more time, too, to stay in touch with and better serve the library’s numerous patrons.
On Friday, Aponte, with city officials, library staff, County Supervisor for District Three Dave Roberts, and members of the Friends of the Encinitas Library helped to celebrate the library’s first electronic book sorter.
Chelsie Harris, community relations librarian with the Encinitas Library said the need for the new sorting machine became obvious as they were getting busier and busier over the past few years with more customers coming in and more materials going out.
“We wanted to increase efficiency, and help our staff spend more time out on the floor helping customers and less time back here checking items in and out,” Harris said.
“Libraries are busier than we’ve ever been,” Aponte said. “All things being equal, funding has remained flat. So we have to find new ways to do the work that we’re charged to do with the citizens. Increasing demand, flat resources – so we ask our staff and citizens to work with us to think outside the box, and that’s where technology fits in.
“Technology helps us to work, to use a catchphrase, ‘smarter not necessarily harder,’” said Aponte.
With the Encinitas Library being the fourth or fifth busiest in the county’s library system, and with a full-time staff of 12 or 13 employees, Aponte said integrating technology only helps staffing levels.
The more than $120,000 piece of equipment that was installed on June 9 came from several sources, including a $35,000 grant that was unanimously approved by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, and $7,000 raised by the Friends of the Encinitas Library.
The fundraising efforts began about 14 months ago, said Kathleen Warren, president of the Friends of the Encinitas Library.
“It took a long time,” Warren said. “Part of it was just the complications of it – it’s the city-owned building, the county-run system and then we’re also dealing with a grant from the supervisors – so we had all of these different governmental entities…it was just a little bit complicated.”
The library picked up the remaining cost.
“Before we had the machine, we literally would have more than 20 carts, between 20 and 30 carts full of materials ready to be checked in and go out,” said Warren. “Plus we’d have two or three of our librarians in the back doing that, check in by hand….
“It’s made a huge difference,” Warren added.
Sheila Crosby, who joined the Encinitas Library as branch manager six months ago, said they’ve already seen some immediate changes, especially with the exterior book drops, which would get so filled every hour.
“Enough that it would take us almost the entire hour to process those materials before we’d go check it again,” Crosby said. “Now with the sorter we can skip an hour and even when we do go out there it’s a much smaller drop,” she said.
For the next two weeks, the library will also be hosting a contest to find a name for the new sorter. People are encouraged to submit names in a suggestion box at the library.