Library Doing Major Technology and Service Upgrade (Will Temporarily Close Branches on Rolling Basis)

The Kansas City Public Library will begin temporarily closing its branches in early November 2016 to upgrade its checkout system. The staggered closures will allow staffers to install new Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags on books and other materials available to patrons. The process will last into early 2017.
RFID tags allow the library to:
  • Enhance the customer experience: Checkouts will be faster and more streamlined. Patrons can check out multiple items with a single swipe.
  • Make better use of staff time: RFID tags will reduce the amount of time it takes for staff to scan materials, allowing librarians to spend more time serving customers.
  • Implement a more effective inventory control system: RFID tags enhance our data collection efforts and with that, help us to be better informed in selecting new materials.

All told, some 800,000 items must be tagged. During this time, patrons may see a delay with their library holds, but all e-books and other digital materials will still be available. Patrons will not have to change anything about their account once the changes are in place.
“We really do hate closing Library branches for any amount of time, but leaving branches open would prolong a process that now takes only a few weeks to a few months or would cost us more by hiring temporary staff to complete the tagging,” says Joel Jones, Deputy Director of Library Services. “It is important to remember that we are only closing one location at time and even if a patron’s home branch is closed for a few days other KCPL branches will be open and ready to serve.”

During this time, Library staff will also be evaluating, updating and refreshing collections at all locations. Expect to see new titles, better organized shelves and updated, topical selections when libraries re-open.
Tagging will be completed in early March. The Central Library will not completely close; instead staff will close individual sections for brief periods of time while they tag materials.

These dates for location closures are subject to change:

Branch Location Closing Dates
Irene H. Ruiz Branch
2017 West Pennway St.
November 1 - 3 - completed!
Sugar Creek
102 South Sterling
Sugar Creek
January 11-12 (branch will not close) - completed!
Westport Branch
118 Westport Rd.
January 17 – 19 - completed!
Plaza Branch
4801 Main St.
January 23 – 29 - completed!
Waldo Branch
201 East 75th St.
January 31 – February 4 - completed!
Trails West
11401 East 23rd St.
February 7 - 11 - completed!
Lucile H. Bluford Branch
3050 Prospect
February 14 – 16 - completed!
North-East Branch
6000 Wilson Rd.
February 21 – 24 - completed!

The Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., will remain open during the tagging period from November 8 – January 6, however, sections of the building will be closed to the public for brief intervals. The children’s section will be closed December 12 -14, and the AV section will be closed January 2 – 6.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. What are RFID tags?
A: Radio Frequency IDentification is a combination of radio frequency-based technology and microchip technology. The information contained on microchips in the tags affixed to library materials is read using radio frequency technology regardless of item orientation or alignment.
2. Why are you moving to this new system?
A. Besides the increased efficiency and speed, RFID tags last longer than barcodes because nothing comes in contact with them.
3. Do I have to change my account log in or get a new library card?
A. No. Your account information will stay the same with the new technology.
4. Will I still be able to access my library holds during the shutdown?
A. During this time, patrons may experience delays with items placed on hold. Pickup times will be extended in line with locations’ closing periods.
5. Why can’t my branch be closed at a different time of year?
A: Our Library Services team examined our checkout data, and we tend to have the lowest amount of physical materials checked out from our branch locations during the cold weather months.
6. Do other libraries have this same technology?
A. RFID tags are used in many libraries across the country, including Johnson County Library, Mid-Continent Public Library, and Kansas City, KS Public Library. By having the same technology, RFID opens up opportunities for increased cooperation and material sharing between these library systems.