The County of San Diego will soon be testing its 24/7 Library-To-Go kiosk system.
A 5-0 San Diego County Board of Supervisors vote Sept. 25 approved the sole-source procurement of one kiosk, which will be located at the County Operations Center and will be used as a pilot project, along with the associated software. County Library director Jose Aponte expects to make recommendations for additional locations in approximately a year. “We want to make sure they work,” Aponte said.
Aponte expects to have four to 10 kiosks throughout the county within the next decade. Based on eventual community input and feasibility studies the kiosks might be in small communities where a staffed library would not be financially feasible, and Aponte also envisions kiosks at commuter rail or light rail hubs.
“We’ll get to harder areas to reach,” Aponte said.
County Library already has a remote access system where customers can reserve books from their homes for future pickup from a branch library. “The remote access is comparable to Amazon from the home,” Aponte said.
County Library had a circulation of more than 12 million books, videos, and other materials during Fiscal Year 2011-12, and the number is expected to rise by approximately 340,000 for 2012-13. “There’s a greater need for the services,” Aponte said.
The county’s budget did not allow for increased County Library funding to cover those additional visitors; total 2012-13 County Library funding actually decreased 4.9 percent from 2011-12 although the budget for branch operations was increased and no cuts in library hours were made.
A library patron making reservations from home could reserve material either at a branch library or at a 24/7 Library-To-Go kiosk. The material would be placed in the kiosk for pickup a few days later. The kiosks would also have standing collections, although those would be smaller than those of the existing bookmobiles. The County Operations Center pilot project kiosk has a targeted circulation rate of 2,000 volumes per month.
Patrons may also check circulation materials and make reservations from the kiosks. The kiosks will also have library program information, and patrons can register for a library card at the kiosks. Materials checked out from a branch library may be returned to the kiosk while materials checked out from a kiosk can be returned to a branch library. Users may also pay fines for overdue material at the kiosks, which will accept payment by credit card.
“The model is the Redbox,” Aponte said.
The existing County Library automation utilizes the Millennium business software for its circulation management system while using Envisionware self-check machines at 25 branches and Envisionware automated book sorters at eight locations. The self-check machines account for approximately 90 percent of checkouts throughout the library system while approximately 90 percent of materials returned at the libraries with automated book sorters is returned through those sorters. County Library has approximately 1.5 million books, compact discs, digital video discs, and other materials, and Envisionware radio frequency identification tags are installed on those materials.
The 24/7 Library-To-Go system, including its software module, is compatible with Millennium. The Envisionware 24/7 Library-To-Go system has more features and functionality to the public than any other automated library checkout system on the market. Envisionware also offered the county a 50 percent discount from the original unit price for the pilot project. The sole-source approval gives the director of the county’s Department of Purchasing and Contracting the authority to enter into negotiations with Envisionware, Inc., and to award a contract for purchase, maintenance, and operation of the 24/7 Library-To-Go system upon successful negotiation of a fair and reasonable price. The director of the Department of Purchasing and Contracting also has the authority to amend the contract to reflect changes to services and funding subject to the County Library director’s approval.
The county had previously budgeted $134,797 for the 24/7 Library-To-Go system consisting of $67,373 of District Four Neighborhood Reinvestment Program funds from the budget of Supervisor Ron Roberts, $25,000 of District Five Neighborhood Reinvestment Program funds from the budget of Supervisor Bill Horn, and $42,424 from property taxes and library fees (the County Library system collects approximately $750,000 in fines each year). The estimated annual maintenance cost is $20,000.