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West Allis Public Library at the forefront of technology Case story | Lyngsoe Library Systems The West Allis Public Library serves a diverse community in suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The current library was built in 1989, consolidating the collections of three smaller libraries into one location. As has been the case in many public libraries, the West Allis Public Library has suffered severe budget cutbacks, resulting in reduced hours in 2004 that continue today.
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Apr 08, 2019

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Page 1: West Allis Public Librarymultimedia.3m.com/mws/media/682278O/lyngsoe-west-allis-case-study... · West Allis Public Library has suffered severe budget cutbacks, ... to manually sort

West Allis Public Libraryat the forefront of technology

Case story | Lyngsoe Library Systems

The West Allis Public Library serves a diverse community in

suburban Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The current library was built in

1989, consolidating the collections of three smaller libraries into

one location. As has been the case in many public libraries, the

West Allis Public Library has suffered severe budget cutbacks,

resulting in reduced hours in 2004 that continue today.

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2 | West Allis Public Library case story

The library participates in the Milwaukee

County Federated Library System (MCFLS),

a membership organization of fifteen pub-

lic libraries in the City of Milwaukee and

suburban Milwaukee County communities

that share resources. A daily delivery sys-

tem is coordinated through MCFLS.

THE CHALLENGE: HANDLING

COUNTYWIDE MATERIALS

The West Allis Public Library enjoys heavy

community support and has a high circu-

lation for a library its size. According to

Library Director Michael Koszalka, the chal-

lenge of managing materials efficiently

goes far beyond coping with the day-to-

day circulation of his library. “Our building

is located in a very convenient area for the

county. This means we are inundated with

materials returned to us that belong to

other libraries in the MCFLS. Our staff had

to manually sort through all those materi-

als to separate ours from other libraries in

the system.”

The task of sorting materials was not insig-

nificant. To sort, pack and get ready for the

MCFLS daily delivery service meant that

West Allis staff were handling a couple of

million items a year, more than double the

library’s own annual circulation of around

800,000. “Our library probably deals with

more items than any other library in the

system. Although we receive some recipro-

cal borrowing compensation from MCFLS,

we had to find a way to deal more effi-

ciently with all these materials, whether

they were ours or belonged to another

library in Milwaukee County,” Koszalka

said.

Given budget and staffing constraints,

Koszalka knew they needed to look to

technology for some relief and began

investigating RFID and sorting

systems. In 2005, the library

received a very generous bequest

from a grateful patron, with a

stipulation that the money be

used on services that would bene-

fit the library and the community.

The decision was made to use

some of the money to fund self-

check, RFID tags and conversion,

and a returns sorting system.

THE LYNGSOE SOLUTION

In 2006, the library had the

money to move forward with

RFID technology. They selected

3M™ as their vendor and purchased tags

in bulk by partnering with the Wauwatosa

Public Library. With the money saved they

had the funding to consider a sorting sys-

tem. “3M had a relationship with Lyngsoe

Systems (then FKI Logistex) so we felt this

was the way to go. We had a demo of the

system and were very impressed with what

it could do for us.”

Since the sorting system was going to be

installed in an existing building, significant

modifications needed to be made to the

circulation room. Koszalka said Lyngsoe

worked with them every step of the way to

figure out how to make the system work.

Koszalka said that before they imple-

mented their Lyngsoe sorting system they

relied on library pages to physically check

in all the materials and re-activate the 3M™

Tattle-Tape™ security strips. This was a

very labor intensive process to touch every

item and set aside non-West Allis materi-

als. With the sorter, items are instantly

checked in, the security is automatically

engaged and materials are sorted into five

Before the Lyngsoe sorting system was implemented, items had to be physically checked in and the security strips

re-activated. With the sorter, items are instantly checked in, the security is automatically engaged and materials

are sorted into five bins

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West Allis Public Library case story | 3

bins — children’s, media, nonfiction, adult

fiction and “dump” (non-West Allis items

as well as exceptions or reserves).

WORKFLOW CHANGES YIELD

BENEFITS FOR STAFF AND THE

COMMUNITY

According to Koszalka, the sorting sys-

tem creates huge efficiencies because

it does what they were taking valuable

staff time to do. It also eliminates repeti-

tive stress injuries, which can be an issue

when staff perform the same movements

over and over, as their pages were doing.

The Lyngsoe system has brought welcome

changes to staff workflow and better ser-

vice for patrons.

Koszalka said the community appreciates

that the library is making things easier

for busy working people and empowering

patrons to access library services when

and where it is convenient for them. “When

we received the bequest from our library

patron we wanted to use the money to

implement a system that would benefit our

patrons. With our Lyngsoe returns sorting

system, books get on the shelves faster.

When a patron comes in looking for a title,

it’s on the shelf, not in the back room. There

is no question that we made the right deci-

sion for our community.”

• Automatic and immediate check-in

of materials. With the old book drops,

items would pile up especially on holi-

days. When the library re-opened there

would be a huge backlog of materials

to check in. With Lyngsoe, items are

immediately checked in and sorted,

eliminating the backlog. And, patrons

appreciate receiving a receipt as proof

that they have returned their items.

• Improved patron service. With the

sorting system, the turnover from

when an item is returned to when it

gets on the shelf is 50% faster than

before, so items that show available

in the catalog are much more likely

to be on the shelves, not in the back

room. Before the sorting system was

installed, the circulation room was full

of book trucks and bins. It’s rare now

to find several trucks in the room at

one time.

• Streamlined work for staff. The num-

ber of items staff handle has been

greatly reduced to only what’s in the

“dump” to look for exceptions and

reserves. With the self-check machines

and returns sorting system, in just

one year the library’s circulation has

flipped from highly staff-intensive to

about 72% self-serve.

• Source of community pride. Having

an automated returns sorting system

has put the library in the forefront

of technology. The community has

embraced the changes and is proud

that their library is on the cutting

edge. The library routinely has visi-

tors from much larger libraries who

are interested in seeing their sorting

operation, establishing West Allis as a

leader in library technology.

• Scalability of the system. Koszalka said

the library has two RFID return chutes

that are not linked to the sorting sys-

tem. As budget becomes available he

plans to add more sorts and link those

two chutes to add to the efficiency of

the system.

• Customer-focused service and sup-

port. From the beginning Lyngsoe

worked closely with West Allis staff to

configure the system to work in their

setting and stayed onsite for training

for almost a week to ensure all staff

were comfortable with the system.

Koszalka appreciates the 24/7 hot-

line technical support and Lyngsoe’s

ability to access the library’s system

remotely for diagnostics and testing.

“They stand behind their product and

do what it takes to fix the problem,

sometimes at considerable time and

expense to them.”

KOSZALKA POINTS TO THE FOLLOWING BENEFITS THAT ANY SIZE LIBRARY CAN REALIZE WITH A LYNGSOE SYSTEM

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