Library offers faster check-out

A new self-checkout system at the USF Library has technologically updated the facility and could speed up checkout time.

“This is one of those things that have been around for years,” said Merilyn Burke, associate director of Access and Media Services. “Just about every public library has one, even the Home Depot. It’s about time the universities are starting to get them.”

With the swipe of a USF ID card and a few on-screen prompts, students can borrow media without staff aid. Dubbed “Check-a-Bull,” the system should shorten checkout lines and give students a sense of self-empowerment, Library staff said.

All state university libraries in Florida are getting self-checkout systems, but the USF Library is the second in the state to receive one.

“When UF found out we were going to be first they jumped in front of us,” Burke said.

Funding for the self-checkout system comes from the Florida Center for Library Automation, a state program used specifically to update the technologies of state university libraries.

“It didn’t come out of the Library’s direct funding, so it was basically free for us,” said John Katsifis, manager of Library Operations.

Because the system is so new — students first used it in August — it will take some time to catch on, Library staff said.

“We’ve calculated that it could handle about 30 percent of our overall checkouts,” Burke said.

In August, the Check-a-Bull system handled 15 percent of the Library’s checkouts.

Library staff said they hope these numbers will increase as more students become familiar with the system.

“The more it is used, the more it will free up staff for other things,” said Katsifis. “We’ll always need to be here, though. People always have questions.”

The checkout system received a warm reception from some students.

“If it’s free I think it’s pretty awesome,” junior engineering major Jerry Daun said. “It will save some time.”

Others hadn’t noticed the new system yet.

“Honestly, I didn’t even know it was there,” said junior mass communications major Maria Douaihy.

The new checkout system fits the Library’s vision of allowing students to use the facility with more independence, Burke said.

“Everything we are doing here is geared to giving the students a sense of self-empowerment,” she said. “You can renew books on-line, the Web site is there 24 hours a day, and now this. Students don’t need to be completely self-sufficient just yet, but giving them some control over what they are doing is important.”