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Security grant of $10,000 for Ogdensburg library

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OGDENSBURG — Ogdensburg Public Library has received a $10,000 grant to get a start on setting up a security system to safeguard its circulated inventory of 75,000 books, DVDs, tapes and other learning materials.

“This will get us started,” library Director Wayne L. Miller said Monday of the grant from the Northern New York Library Network for a so-called Radio Frequency Identification system.

“We have been developing plans for RFID for about two years,” Mr. Miller said. “This involves affixing a small chip to each book, DVD and so on. Then that chip with its unique identifying footprint is connected electronically to the digital record in the database we use for our catalog and circulation. Once this happens, the item can be checked out and back in more efficiently and self-checkout will also become easily possible.”

The next step, Mr. Miller said, is to solicit proposals from firms that make RFID systems; for this project that includes three circulation desk workstations.

“We have to make sure the system we choose works seamlessly with our circulation system and fits our limited budget,” he said. “I expect the beginnings of the system will be in place in the next six months. The full conversion will take longer as every item in our collections will need to be tagged.”

The entire project will cost $75,000 and take 12 to 18 months to do the tagging.

“The initial phase will take between seven and nine months, two months for the final vendor selection, delivery, and installation, one month for staff training and the remainder of the time for tagging our existing collection,” Mr. Miller said.

The $10,000 will pay for two workstations for the circulation desk and 13,000 tags for the most heavily used books. An additional $4,500 is committed for a third work station and tags for nonfiction materials. And the library’s 2014 budget request to the city includes $12,000 for security gates.

“The security gates are an essential part of the system as RFID is both a tool to speed circulation and improve security,” Mr. Miller said. “The gates will also be connected to the database and will know if each item passing through them has been checked out or not.”

An upgrade is supposedly long overdue.

“The security system previously in place wore out before I became director five years ago,” Mr. Miller said. “Theft of any materials is a problem. While we do not have exact numbers, we know that the problem has been growing as awareness that our security system is defunct has become more widespread.”

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