Automation helps a small Australian library do big things.

Ruth Faulkner Belmont library logo
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Challenge
Ruth Faulkner Public Library needed to free up staff time in order to deliver on their mission of early literacy and community education.
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Solution
The library converted its collection to RFID and took advantage of self-checkout and intelligent shelving to automate returns and clear space and time for programming.
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Result
Library staff are now able to offer assistance where and when it is needed, as well as host a full range additional of programmes for children and adults.

RFID: Making the most of space and staff

Situated in Faulkner Park Civic Precinct in the heart of the City of Belmont, Ruth Faulkner Public Library is a vibrant and welcoming library offering the community an extensive book collection and a wide variety of programmes and events. In addition to standard library offerings, Ruth Faulkner Public Library is also the home of the Belmont Museum, which hosts displays, talks and workshops relating Belmont’s history.

How does one small library offer so much?

In 2015, Ruth Faulkner Public Library converted its collection to RFID, freeing up both staff time and building space. The conversion, handled entirely by library staff, was completed in just 16 weeks.

Goodbye, circulation desk

Moving to RFID allowed the library to cut down the size of the circulation desk dramatically. After an extensive weeding project, they realigned the shelves, and the space created is now used for programming and open meeting areas.

Patrons now use one of the three selfCheck 1000s to borrow their materials. Items can be put into the RFID reader en masse, eliminating the need to scan individual materials and saving patrons time. The selfCheck kiosks, which can be configured to receive cash, coin and credit card payment, and offer instant access to cloudLibrary digital content, are compact, sleek, and extremely easy to use.

A smartShelf now handles all returns at Ruth Faulkner Public Library. The smartShelf is just as compact as ordinary library shelves but offers much more. To return items, patrons simply place their materials on the RFID enabled shelves that automatically check them in. A confirmation screen assures patrons that their returns have been processed. The smartShelf is a perfect solution for smaller libraries looking to automate their returns process without dedicating space for a large flex AMH sorter.

Ruth Faulkner Public Library also installed RFID premium gates with staffConnect gate software. When the gates detect material that has not been unsecured, staff immediately receive a message identifying the item.

City of Belmont Chief Executive Officer John Christie said the city was the first library in Western Australia to introduce the technology-based lending system.

Hello, programming

Moving to RFID and installing the selfChecks and smartShelf freed up more than just floor space.

“It has enabled our Library staff to provide more assistance to community members and offer more services, taking full advantage of the talents of our employees,” Mr Christie said.
“In addition, any issues related to loan material are now able to be identified and resolved more quickly,” he said.

Staff are able to circulate through zones of the library, chatting with patrons and offering assistance when and where it is needed, without having to dedicate hours to checking materials in and out manually.

The library has expanded its programmes to include book clubs, a Lego Club, regular programmes for home-school families, additional early literacy sessions, expanded primary school-aged programming, and a series of events called Curator Conversations which are offered in conjunction with the Museum.

Staff are now able to focus on the library’s main objectives – early literacy and community education. Ruth Faulkner Public Library is the creator of a programme now popular across Western Australian libraries called LETS – Learning English Through Storytime, which brings together parents and children to learn English together through specific books and lessons. Furthermore, school-age students that need free tutoring can attend Homework Club for help with assignments and studying. This programme is very popular and nearly always full.

“We pride ourselves on being a loud library,” Mr Christie said. “We offer high-quality programmes and work hard to make sure they are all well attended.”

A Bigger Future for Ruth Faulkner Public Library

In 2020, Ruth Faulkner Public Library got a new home. The City of Belmont created a new multi-purpose cross-generational Community Centre in Faulkner Park Civic Precinct which includes the library, Museum, senior citizens centre, office space for community service providers, crèche, and café.

Throughout the planning and building process, the library reviewed and enhanced its programme and event offerings, along with self-service and return solutions, to ensure they met community needs and expectations.

What can be assured is that all staff on the floor at Ruth Faulkner Public Library will continue to deliver the high-quality programming and patron service and engagement, for which they have become known.

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