Library Info

March 2010 - Posts

RFID Upgrade

Grab a partner and do the RFID do-si-do. This is what has been going on here behind our closed doors, a whole lot of dancing. Except this kind of dancing is long and tedious work. Here we see one staff member "tagging". This is the process of placing an RFID tag somewhere in the book. The other staff member turns the RFID tag on by scanning the item's barcode. This matches the barcode number to the RFID tag placed inside the book. It might sound like a simple two step, but it must be repeated nearly 180,000 times as that is the number of items in the Round Rock Public Libraries collection. This is no small task.

With almost every aisle resembling the ones you see above and below, there is simply no way that we could have done this without closing. We do appreciate the patience and understanding of our wonderful community.


What this RFID upgrade means for you, the reader and patron, is easier check-out and a more accurate check-in process.

During check-out, the first step will still be to scan your library card. The second step is what is exciting. The RFID technology will allow you to place several items at a time on a large black plate. The plate is actually an antenna that can scan for the radio frequencies being transmitted via the RFID tags. This enables several items to be checked out at once and without even having to scan a barcode!  Gone are the days of those awkward-to-use self check machines!

The check-in process will be much more efficient as well. You'll still return the books in the same book drop locations you're used to, but the books will be checked in much faster as the same simple process will work for us checking in the books.

 

Closing this week has also given us the opportunity to run new cable throughout the entire library (another job that is no small task). David Wongwai of the City of Round Rock's IT department said, "What we're doing here is upgrading all the networking to the latest standard which requires replacing all the networking cables, switches and routers. This will put us in a position to be sufficiently equipped when the time comes for further technological advancements."

 All in a week's work. We're nearly halfway there. We'll see you soon!

 Peace and Such,

 The Round Rock Public Library 

 

The Quest for Audio Books Made Easy
Sometimes all I want to do is shut my laptop, silence my smart phone, power off my iPod and read a good book. But then there are times when I need those gadgets to help me get through a good audio book so I can busy my eyes and hands on others things like the long car trip to Kansas (Oklahoma can be a killer) or while I'm completing the odious task of washing dishes. These are great times to put on an audio book. Luckily, our audio book options improve constantly.

You can, of course, being by browsing the library's collection and picking up a book on CD or checking out this list of Audie Award winners. I've taken to listening to Oscar Casares' novel Amigoland on CD while I'm getting ready in the morning, eating a meal or cleaning up.

However, as much as I hate to admit it, the library isn't the only place to find great audio books. Below I've listed a few other places you might consider before that next long road trip.

BooksShouldBeFree.com offers free, downloadable audio versions of books in the public domain (books with expired copyrights). Some of these have been recorded by groups of volunteers but most of them have been digitized by The Gutenberg Project and recorded by Libriovox . The site itself makes browsing a visual treat. It offers pictures of the cover, a short description of the book, a preview of the audio book, two options for downloading, recommendations for similar audio books, and reviews of the specific recording of the book. I especially like that the reviews take the reader into account. Sometimes a book can be phenomenally written and then read by a dud. Bummer. Check out the page for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Another Libriovox-powered site, Librophile resembles Books Should Be Free is many ways and includes many of the same titles. One exception is that Librophile allows users to listen to the book right from your browser, a handy little feature. However, I find the site to be less appealing visually and the search feature felt clunky to me. In addition to the public domain content, Librophile also sells audio versions of popular books. Unfortunately, the cost reflects publishing costs plus the cost of a professional reader. Hence, an audio-only copy of Stephen King's Under the Dome would cost you $52.50. Yowza.

If you're more interested in educational material you might consider skipping over these earlier options and trying LearnOutLoud.com. They exclusively provide copyrighted materials which means users must be charged for downloads. Based on a quick glance at the site, it looks like the cost can be as low as $5 and $20. The site doesn't have the same visual appeal as Books Should Be Free but it is also searchable and has books broken down into categories. For more non-fiction books, you might also consider The National Academies Press