Healey Library celebrates grand opening of self-checkout station

Interim Dean of the Library Joanne Riley cutting the ribbon off of the newly installed self-checkout station.

On Tuesday Nov. 2, Healey Library celebrated the grand opening of their self checkout station with a ribbon cutting ceremony. 

Following the ceremony, refreshments were served, and attendees were urged to check out the National University of Mexico’s Day of the Dead display behind the counter. The first twenty people who checked out a book using the self-checkout station received a free Healey Library face mask.

“It occurs to me that this [ribbon] cutting has two meanings,” said Interim Dean of the Library, Joanne Riley, as she cut the ribbon. “It has the meaning of the library wanting and being totally committed to cutting through the red tape and cutting through any barriers that stand in the way of our faculty and students getting whatever they need [ . . . ] The second thing that this ribbon cutting is about [is] wrapping [up] a project that has been months in the making.”

Roxann Harvey, a Senior Library Coordinator in Access Services, spoke to the project’s origin.

“It was COVID that catapulted it into existence, because obviously there was some federal money that became available to add resources, and it did allow us to have a contactless feature,” said Harvey.

Many departments worked on this project, including the library’s Circulation and Systems staff, their business office, as well as external departments such as IT and the loading dock team.

Harvey spoke to the library’s Access Team’s role in the project.

“[It] was really figuring out what is something that could benefit everyone here that we could get that would make things contactless, that could also reduce lines and be more self-sufficient,” said Harvey.

Louisa Choy, an Electronic Resources Librarian, also played a large part in bringing the project to fruition. She describes her role as that of a project manager, who oversaw the endeavor and corralled the group.  

The self-checkout systems allow anyone to check a book out from the library using their BeaconCard. The station demagnetizes the book, emails the patron a receipt, allows individuals to check their library accounts, and displays promotional fliers for services being offered at the library.

“It also helps free our circulation staff to handle more in-depth questions,” said Choy. “So, if you need to do a quick transaction you can use the self-checkout; if you want to take a little bit longer to discuss something with our circulation staff, you can go to the desk.” 

“It also allows people to be independent,” said Riley via Zoom interview. “If people at our desk are tied up, you don’t have to wait in line. It factors into and supports what we know—students at UMass Boston are always moving fast, they have a lot of places to be and things to do, and we try as much as we can to streamline things so there’s as little waiting as possible.”

Harvey and Benjamín Juárez Echenique, Director for the Center for Mexican Studies of UNAM-Boston, were able to clarify the connection between the self-checkout station ribbon cutting and UNAM’s Day of the Dead display. 

Each year, UNAM-Boston—which is located on the eighth floor of Healey Library—constructs a display in the library to honor those from UMass Boston and from the National University of Mexico who have departed that year. According to Harvey, the library staff wanted to maintain this tradition. The timing of Day of the Dead coincided with the grand opening of the self-checkout machine, so the ribbon cutting was a celebration of both features of the library.

UNAM has also constructed a larger Day of the Dead display in the Campus Center this year. Echenique spoke to the importance of constructing the display.

“In the middle of the pandemic, this becomes very important,” said Echenique via Zoom interview. “It’s a way of healing.”

In addition to the self-checkout station, the library offers contactless curbside pickup of books outside the ISC, as well as a 24/7 dropbox for returning library materials located outside the ISC. 

Riley also mentioned a browser extension called LeanLibrary, which students and faculty can use to access online materials that the library pays for. 

Harvey emphasized the importance of informing the student population about the library’s services.

“It’s really about bringing that information to our students and to everyone so they know: this is here for you,” said Harvey. “If you like it or if you want to see other things, please let us know, because we are here to service you and make things better for all of our students.”

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