Lexington, MA, a northwestern suburb of Boston, is well known as the site of the first battle of the Revolutionary War and the “shot heard round the world.” Today, Cary Memorial Library (CML) in Lexington is the third busiest in the state. It serves a diverse population of nearly 35,000 residents from one central branch with an annual circulation of over one million.
During its 2015 renovation, Cary Memorial Library replaced its existing self-service system with five 3M 420 selfChecks, a legacy Bibliotheca solution. The new self-service solution was extremely popular, and the library saw its self-checkout rate rise to nearly 80% of total transactions.
However, technology changes quickly, and in early 2020, Microsoft stopped supporting Windows 7, the operating system required to run the selfChecks.
“We had some real security concerns about continuing to run Windows 7 based machines,” says Kate Lepannen, Head of Technology and Training, Cary Memorial Library. “The cost/benefit of replacing the computers wasn’t there, so we began looking at replacing the selfChecks.”
A new purchasing model makes upgrading easier
CML began searching for a new solution, but as every library knows, equipment is a significant investment, and securing the funds for an upgrade is a lengthy and often arduous undertaking.
“We’re very lucky. Lexington is a wealthy town. People here support their library very enthusiastically, but even so, securing tens of thousands of dollars for new equipment was going to be a struggle,” says Lepannen. “We were going to have to submit for capital funding through the town, which is quite the process.” And this was not planned until the summer of 2023
Bibliotheca’s Solution as a Service purchasing model offered an affordable answer that expedited the process. Instead of requiring an upfront capital investment, the SaaS model allows libraries to subscribe to a solution for a stable annual fee. The subscription includes all maintenance, updates, and support for the contract duration, ensuring that library equipment is always up-to-date. At the end of the contract, libraries can choose to renew with upgraded equipment. All older solutions are removed and recycled.
“The selfChecks are great machines and we’ve always been very happy with the service from Bibliotheca – they promptly respond to all tickets. So, we were very excited to hear about this easier, more affordable way to upgrade and continue the relationship,” says Lepannen.
Because Solution as a Service does not require an upfront purchase of the equipment, libraries are able to use funds from their operating expenses budget instead of engaging in a lengthy, risky bid for capital funds. This can cut the time from idea to implementation significantly. That was certainly the case for CML – just seven weeks after receiving a proposal, the library secured a SaaS agreement.
Solution as a Service is a new idea for many libraries, but Lepannen says moving to this purchasing model was hassle-free and definitely the way to go .
“The process was pretty straightforward. We were able to use the existing funds we’d budgeted for service and support of the old selfChecks. Then we moved some funds around to increase our software licensing budget and cover the cost,” she says. “The town was very amenable to it because it makes for a much more stable budgeting process and eliminates the need to plan for a major capital request every five to seven years.”
Better purchasing options mean better library service
The new pricing model not only allowed CML to get new their new selfChecks faster, but it also allowed the library to get more of them. They replaced their five legacy selfCheck 420s with six new selfCheck 500s. The additional kiosk, placed in the Teen section, has been a boon to patrons.
“The selfCheck in the children’s section has always been popular. Kids love to check out their own materials and the adjustable height makes it easy for them to use. We serve a diverse population and have a large Chinese collection, and the kids love being able to change the language on the interface,” says Lepannen. “With the new pricing, we were able to afford to give the teen section its own selfCheck, and the teens love it. They can check out adult books and maintain their privacy which is really important to them. That additional selfCheck has really allowed us to improve our service to our younger patrons.”
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