Click on photos to enlarge and see captions.
By Elena Kadvany
Special to the Almanac
A small crowd waited, books in arm, for the main Menlo Park library to re-open on Tuesday (June 19).
After four weeks of renovations, the library at 800 Alma St. re-opened with new carpeting, new radio frequency identification (RFID) scanning technology, and a remodeled lobby with a new front desk and skylight.
"I'm amazed at how it's opened up the lobby," said library director Susan Holmer. "It's brighter, more welcoming, more intuitive."
There are many benefits to the remodel, according to library staff, who say the four new RFID machines should be more efficient than the previous self-checkout machines. Instead of the one-by-one barcode reader, the new machines automatically read the RFID tags installed in the books so they can read more material at a time, explained Ms. Holmer. Patrons can check out up to three books simultaneously.
The RFID tags, installed over the past four weeks in the over 80,000 items in the library's collection, are also more secure than the previous "tattle tape" magnetic system used to prevent theft, according to library staff member Nick Szegda.
With the implementation of the RFID technology at the Menlo Park branch, all of the libraries in San Mateo County are officially converted to this system.
Library users now also have the option to pay fines with a credit or debit card at the library, rather than the previous options of paying with cash there or with a card on the library website at home.
The rectangular slot in the wall that serves as the book return drop has been moved around the corner in anticipation of an automated materials handling system, or an automatic returns machine, that will eventually take its place. It is expected to be installed in 2013.
There are also giant red and green circles on the new carpet in the main area of the library. The circles help people find their way around the library.
"It's a real updating that the building needed," said Ms. Holmer.
The construction for the remodel cost $90,000. The RFID technology was allocated separately at $147,000. The funding came from three sources: the city's capital improvement fund for the carpet; a library bond measure for the circulation area; and the public library fund and general fund for the RFID equipment and software.