Library Plans New Telephone Service To Provide Circulation Data To Patrons

Telecirc Will Allow Readers To Renew Books By Phone

April 21, 1997|By Jennifer Vick | Jennifer Vick,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Carroll County public library patrons should soon be able to pick up their telephone to renew books and conduct other circulation-related functions.

A new telephone-computer system called TeleCirc will enable the library to deliver electronic notices and accept calls from library users. Using a personal identification number, patrons will be able to renew overdue books, get a list of materials they've checked out, and cancel or confirm items on hold.

"[The system] is going to speed up the notification of when a book is ready for people which will add to the circulation of popular items," said Scott Reinhart, director of automation, support and technical services for the library.

The library is negotiating the purchase of the system and should have it installed next month.

Each year, the library sends out about 42,000 overdue notices at a cost of about $20,000. Library officials said the new system should reduce that number by 75 percent.

TeleCirc is expected to cost about $29,000. The cost of operating the system -- telephone lines, software and maintenance -- is about $12,000 a year.

Library officials began negotiations to acquire the TeleCirc system last fall when they learned of its success in the public libraries in Prince William County, Va.

"Its use just skyrocketed, especially during bad weather when people didn't want to go out," said Richard Murphy, director of the Prince William library, which installed the system four years ago.

Prince William operates 10 library facilities and circulates 3.5 million books. Before TeleCirc, each library had one telephone line on which renewals were made manually.

"It was really staff-intensive and a lot of people couldn't get through," Murphy said.

He said the new system's five lines have decreased the frustration of patrons and increased their sense of responsibility to return books.

Howard County Public Library has adopted a similar system. Its one line received about 70,000 renewals last year.

Carroll's system will provide two dial-in and two dial-out lines. Reinhart said the system allows for possible upgrades, such as additional lines.

"We really look forward to implementing TeleCirc," said Anne Wisner, a Carroll library spokeswoman. "We think it will be very beneficial for both the library staff and the library patrons."

Pub Date: 4/21/97

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