The main branch of the Gadsden Public Library will shut its doors on Monday, December 5 and will not reopen until Tuesday, January 3.
No, the staff will not be taking an extended holiday. Actually, the library is closing its doors for progress.
Through the Alabama Library System, the Gadsden Library obtained a federal grant that allows the facility to upgrade technological capabilities, which in turn allows the staff to better serve the community.
The new system, called Radio Frequency Identification, allows the staff to better monitor and control inventory, increase loss prevention and give patrons a faster check in/out process.
Librarian Craig Scott said there were 250,000 reasons why the library will stay closed for such an extended amount of time.
“We will be retagging over 250,000 items. Staff members will spend an entire month retagging books, cassettes, DVDs and any other form of media owned by the library.”
Scott said the RFID system is very popular among large libraries across the nation. Librarians from Gadsden recently visited the University of Alabama and learned about the system at the Hoole Library.
Tags will be in the items and will be linked to the GPL system. The tags carry detailed information about the items. The will be able to manage and control inventory more effectively.
“We will be able to find items instantly with the new technology,” Scott added. “New gates at the entrance foyer will be more sensitive and will help with security/prevention. Patrons will be pleased with the new system because we will be adding two new self checkout stations.”
GPL obtained the grant through the Library Services Technology Act grant. Signed in 1996, the LSTA includes expansion of buildings but targets and places special emphasis on technology.
LSTA granted GPL $80,000. In order to obtain the grant, the City of Gadsden agreed to commit 20 percent of the LSTA money.
While the main branch on College Street will be closed during the process, the East Gadsden and Alabama City branches will remain open and receive extra staff members to assist with patrons.
The GPL and the Northeast Alabama Genealogical Society GPL employee and genealogist Kevin Graves will open the historic Nichols Library Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to assist patrons who frequent the main branch for the use of the extensive microfilm collection.
Scott is confident the improvements will benefit everyone in the community.
“We are shutting down to make progress. All the big libraries have gone to this system and we are excited to follow suit. This will take us into the 21st century.”