Palmerston North Library is in the market for new technology that will modernise the way items are checked in and out.
The council's city library and community services group has put out a request for proposals to provide the radio frequency identification (RFID) system.
The request seeks suppliers of the hardware, software and support services needed to install and commission the system.
It would enable self-checking of stacks of books and other items in one sweep, better collection management, handling and security.
The city council included $280,000 in this year's Annual Plan for replacement of its current line-of-sight barcode system.
Library content manager Shannon Simpson said with the new system people would be able to swipe their library card and check out a stack of items without having to line up the individual bar codes.
They would also be able to check out their own DVDs.
"We will be able to offer a lot more self-service options."
One of the huge time-savers for staff would be the way the system instantly recognised and checked in returns.
At the moment a staff member had to individually check in about 7000 items a day.
Simpson said the library was going through a request for proposals process rather than going out to tender directly so it had flexibility to consider the options vendors could offer.
She said while the RFID technology was standard practice in North America, only a handful of New Zealand libraries had it.
The time frame for having the system in place was "as soon as possible", which would probably mean early next year.
Simpson said it would be a huge task to put a new tag on every item in the library's collection.
She hoped that work could be carried out during the Christmas-New Year period.
Simpson said the system would enable the library to continue providing a service to traditional book lovers without putting in any more resources, while more people could be helped with digital services.
The Friends of Palmerston North Library have supported the development, which Midge Minot and Bruce Thomson described as dragging the library out of the era of the floppy disk. They said the existing system, installed in 1994, was prone to breakdowns and increasingly difficult to fix.
RFID is essentially the same technology as that used in modern passports.
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