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City makes libraries more tech-savvy

Posted: August 20, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: August 20, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Sandy, left, and Brandon Yu, of Westridge, check out materials with new self-service kiosks at the Santa Clarita Public Library’s Valencia branch

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This isn’t your grandmother’s library anymore.

Rather, it isn’t just your grandmother’s library.

Santa Clarita Library System officials are augmenting the traditional library experience with a virtual one: ebooks available for checkout via the city’s library website; new, faster computers; open Wi-Fi; RFID technology so patrons can check out multiple books in one stack, at once; and a wandering information desk.

Having someone behind a counter can be off-putting sometimes, City Librarian Ed Kieczykowski said. So he’s experimented with having a library worker take an iPad — Apple’s tablet computer — and wander the bookstacks to answer questions and help patrons find books.

Portability and speed are very big in the new Santa Clarita Library System, which debuted July 1. The city took over the three local branches, Newhall, Valencia and Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy libraries — from the Los Angeles County Public Library System.

Computers have been important to libraries for a long time, Kieczykowski said.

“But what’s changing is that people are wanting a portable device that they can sit anywhere and use,” Kieczykowski said. “We’re trying to find a secure way of having that happen.”

George Fedor, the library system’s automation manager, said the city looks for technology that meets the needs of patrons; technology that is purpose-driven. Library workers are looking into applications that would allow patrons to view catalogs via their smartphones.

Kieczykowski said he hoped to have RFID book return soon, too.

“We can better route the materials and get books on shelves faster,” Kieczykowski said. “We hope to have some in place sometime in the next year.”

A big push in the coming year will be boosting technology available for children.

“Every 2-year-old knows what a keyboard is,” Kieczykowski said.

Despite all the changes, some things about libraries won’t be changing.

“The real book is not going away anytime soon,” Kieczykowski said.

 

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