Our Journey Down the Self-Check Road
What is a self check out?
A decision was made to purchase the machine
A self check out machine enables library users to issue
library materials without going to the circulation staff.
What is a Self – Check (S.C) Machine?
A Self-Check Machine is a self-service machine that enables library
clients to check out and check in items without going to the
circulation or lending desk.
Although self-checkout technology has been around for about 15
year s, library workers have not yet needed to worry about being
rendered obsolete. Many libraries have added self-check
technology, but library personnel has to be stationed in the area
to help with the problems.
In this presentation I will discuss the University of Johannesburg
library’s journey down the self-check road share lessons learned
along the way and offer tips for making such an experience more
The University of Johannesburg have
four Campus Libraries
- They are:
• Kingsway Campus Library (APK)
• Doornfontein Campus Library (DFC)
• Bunting Road Campus Library (APB)
• And Soweto Campus Library (SWC)
We first tried this technology in 2003 by purchasing a 3M self-check
system, which was compatible with our security gate technology.
Criteria needed to use the S.C.
• The machine allows you to check out the library materials without
going to the Circulation desk.
• You first need to be a registered student of the University of
• Your record information need to be uploaded to our Millennium
• You need to have a “clean” Library record.
Using the S.C Machine to Checkout
• Swipe your student card/staff card at the right hand corner of the
• The machine displays your information.
• Place your book on the machine with the barcode of the book
facing the upwards towards the machine’s laser light
• Scan your item towards the laser light
• Then you press the “done” button.
• Wait for the machine to print the return date slip.
S.C Machine and Staff
•Generally staff felt threatened by this ‘machine’ – they
feared their presence will be seen as redundant and this
will result in them losing their jobs.
•Staff needed to be assured that this was part of embracing
the new innovation in the library environment.
•They needed to be assured that this will is part of enabling
them to multi skill.
•It ensure that we are on par with the latest professional
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Self-
Check out Machine
• Promotes Multi skilling to the Circulation staff
• Time saving for our clients
• It is very convenient
• Promotes “clean” record for our clients
• Has a built in statistics
• Compatible with the library security system
• “Technology shy” users are reluctant to use the machine
• Barcodes wear out with the constant usage
• Barcode positioning on an item
• Sometimes clients lose the due date slips
• The machine is not cheap.
• A proper budgeting is needed and a good motivation by the library
management to the University financial committee.
• You need to have a separate Power point, a separate Data Line
• There must be a budget for repair and maintenance.
•Like any automated systems, if the power or the network
is down it does not have a backup system
•You need an extra Data and power point
•Barcodes wear out. And the machine is unable to read it
•If the positioning of the barcode is not in the correct place
the machine is unable to read it.
•If the paper roll is finished the patron will not be issued
with the slip information him/her of the due date.
Tips for anyone who will want to
purchase the Machine in future
• Proper planning
• Make sure that you provide adequate information/training to your
• Have a good marketing strategy to your clients
• Have a dedicated staff member to help with any query.
• Make sure that next to the machine you have clear instructions for
the students to follow in using the machine
• Embrace new technology.
Implication to the Circulation statistics
*Productivity: A Team Leader or Circulation Head must monitor the
usage and the monthly statistics
• Control: the person that is assigned to supervise the usage must
maintain proper control.
• Work load: The work load must be monitored
• Interaction with the library clients: there must be constant
interaction with the clients in order the be able to see if the
machine is adding an value to the provision of a better and an