Originally opened in 1992, the Dollard-des-Ormeaux library was already beginning a much-awaited multi-million-dollar renovation in early 2020 when the pandemic forced libraries around the world to close their doors. The library, which had not been updated since it was built, serves 50,000 residents of Dollard-des-Ormeaux (DDO), an on-island suburb of Montreal, Quebec.
The renovation, which was designed to modernize the library and position it as a community third place, included an updated interior design, expansion of the youth area, and the addition of workspaces and a computer lab. To ensure that patrons could make the best use of their beautiful new facility, Dollard-des-Ormeaux converted its collection to RFID and began searching for the technology that would best serve patrons and staff alike.
Learning from Other libraries
With so many vendors and products to choose from, DDO staff toured several libraries to see various solutions in action.
“We knew we wanted a sorter,” says Hélène Diamond, Division Head – Library and Culture “One of the libraries we went to had a different brand of self-checkout and a Bibliotheca AMH return conveyor. The librarians said they preferred the Bibliotheca solution because of how it integrated with their way of doing things.”
Bibliotheca solutions are designed to work together seamlessly, offering maximum efficiency for library staff and a stellar user experience for patrons. To take advantage of this integration, Dollard-des-Ormeaux selected Bibliotheca’s selfCheck for self-service and the flex AMH to handle automated returns.
The flex AMH is fully modular, allowing libraries to configure the automated materials handler in the way that works best for their unique space. Dollard-des-Ormeaux put theirs front and center, surrounded by glass walls.
“Kids love to drop their books in the return, watch them move along the conveyor, and fall into the bins,” says Hélène Diamond.
The bins are easily configurable, allowing libraries to change the sorting rules as needed to get items back on the shelf as quickly as possible.
“When we installed the flex AMH, we had the bins set up in a specific way,” says Casey Scott, Section Head – Technical services and ILS. “The staff quickly took ownership of the process and came back asking to change how the materials were sorted so that books fell into different bins. We were able to reconfigure the system to suit their needs. As a result, we have a lot of staff buy-in.”
From zero to 100
Implementing self-service was an important part of Dollard-des-Ormeaux’s modernization. Even pre-pandemic, 87% of consumers preferred using self-checkout. The library knew offering patrons the ability to borrow and return their own items would not only meet modern expectations but also allow staff to focus on more meaningful interactions with the community.
The library created four self-checkout stations by incorporating selfCheck components into custom-built cabinetry that matches the aesthetic of their new space.
“We love the selfChecks. The flexibility of being able to drop the components into a custom desk was one of the things that was really appealing about the solution,” says Casey Scott. “We have a lovely wooden counter to hold patrons’ books, which makes it very convenient for those borrowing a lot of items.”
Though the library had never offered self-service before, 100% of their lending is now handled via selfCheck.
“People have been very happy,” says Hélène Diamond. “We have staff positioned nearby to help anyone who appears to be struggling, but once people have been introduced to the selfCheck, they love it. It’s very intuitive. We recently had an older patron who was nervous about checking out her own materials. It only took a moment to show her how to do it, and she was so proud. ‘Look, I did it! That was easy!’ she said.”
A new library for a new normal
Like many libraries recovering from the pandemic, Dollard-des-Ormeaux Library reopened to the public in the fall of 2021. But, unlike others, they welcomed patrons back to an entirely reimagined space complete with state-of-the-art technology. More than 20 thousand patrons visited the library in just two months.
“We offered curbside pickup during the pandemic, but we were closed anyway for construction. When we reopened, everything was brand new,” says Hélène Diamond.
Though the library has had to close and reopen as Covid has surged and waned, patrons are thrilled to be back in person and delighted with their new library.
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