Library countdown: Volunteers help ready books for the moveWritten by Becky Johnson
Good things come to those who wait.
It’s an adage Jackson County library users will need to bear in mind this spring during a month-long closure of the Sylva branch during the massive move into its brand-new, first-class digs.
Librarians face the daunting task of packing up 35,000 books in circulation at the current library and arranging them in their new home. It can’t be done while continuing to keep the doors of the library open, according to Betty Screven, public relations chair with Friends of the Jackson County Library.
Volunteers with Friends of the Library are lining up to help with the operation. In fact, they’ve already started.
They have been combing the stacks of the Sylva library outfitting each book with a special radio-frequency identification tag. The new tags will take the place of the traditional barcodes used to check out books today.
Radio-frequency tags allow entire piles of books to be scanned at once, not only making it easier to check books in and out but also to keep track of collections. Librarians can inventory of a whole shelf in seconds without ever taking a book off. Library users will even be able to check out their own books.
The technology is considered cutting edge, but making the transition to the radio-frequency tags is too expensive and time consuming for most libraries to tackle.
The new library, which was constructed as an enormous wing on the back of the historic courthouse, will be more than three times bigger than the current one. The county is spending $8 million to build the library and restore the historic courthouse.
Jackson County Friends of the Library raised $1.8 million to furnish the library — from shelving to armchairs to desks — with $400,000 of that devoted to buying new books and materials. Newly purchased library items will come already equipped with the radio-frequency identification tags.
The new library will have a soft opening sometime in May with a grand opening planned for Saturday, June 11.