New Automated Materials Handling System at Cedar Rapids Public Library Changes Service

The implementation of a new automated materials handling system at the Cedar Rapids Public Library (CRPL) is redefining the way items are processed and reducing the amount of time it takes for materials to get into the hands of the customers.

“We continue to test and fine-tune systems and operations to make ourselves as efficient and organized as possible as we prepare for our new downtown destination library.” said Library Public Information Officer Amber Mussman. “This new system will allow us to spend more of our staff time focused on our mission – serving people and impacting our community through literacy and learning,”

When an item is dropped into the item return at the CRPL West, it lands on a conveyor belt. This conveyor system uses Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to decipher where the item belongs and distributes it in the appropriate bin. In other libraries, systems such as these have been shown to reduce the time it takes for an item to return to the shelf from a mean of 50 hours to two.

Not only will this system speed up the shelving process, but it will also reduce the number of repetitive motion injuries to staff and increase the amount of time staff spend planning and facilitating programs, doing reference and research, and working with customers.

The CRPL received a $500,000 grant from the federal government in 2009 to replace the RFID system that was destroyed in the 2008 flood.

The Cedar Rapids Public Library circulated more than 700,000 items last year. In a comparison with all library facilities in Iowa’s six largest cities, the library at Westdale now ranks #2 – second only to Iowa City for circulation.  Library demand continues to increase by double-digit figures each month.

For more information, contact the Cedar Rapids Library at (319) 398-5123 or visit www.crlibrary.org.

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