City Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Rockaway Beach) gave the gift of 21st-century technology Tuesday to the Howard Beach Library, where he presented Queens Library Director Thomas Galante a $465,000 check to pay for self-service book checkouts, building repairs and other improvements.
Included in the city budget, the funds are part of $46.5 million allocation to upgrade the city’s libraries.
Ulrich said when he looked at infrastructure in his district that was deserving of city funds, libraries were one of his top funding priorities.
He said the Howard Beach Library, at 92-05 156th Ave., represented “a dire need for capital improvement to the existing structure.”
“The roof is in terrible disrepair,” Ulrich said, explaining that the funding would also go toward renovating the library’s 30-year-old roof.
“The councilman definitely stood up,” Galante said of Ulrich’s ability to secure funding for the library.
Galante said self-service checkout kiosks, which will help library customers to take out books without the assistance of library employees, are quicker, easier and more efficient than the current method.
The kiosks will also provide benefits to the library’s workers, Galante said.
“It gives them more time to do programming, to do individual service,” he said.
That system “automates the repetitive work so [employees] could do more professional work in the libraries,” Galante said.
The $465,000 will also pay for a new self-check-in that customers can use 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Galante said the system works much like how ATM machines are accessed at banks. A library card will activate the check-in box.
Galante said such a system provides freer access to the library for customers and will encourage more people to borrow because of the convenience.
“It just makes borrowing money easier if you know you can return [materials] any time,” he said, noting customers receive a receipt as proof of a return in case of a clerical error.
The library director said he expected both services to be available at the Howard Beach Library in 2010.
Ulrich also allocated $460,000 for the Ozone Park Library and $100,000 to the Broad Channel Library.
Galante said the funds secured for the Ozone Park Library will go toward self-service technology while the $100,000 for the Broad Channel Library will be spent on an exterior self-service check-in unit.
Ulrich said the money will also be used to replace the heating and air conditioning system at the Ozone Park Library.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2009 Community News Group
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