3M Library Systems celebrates 40 years of innovation

Libraries are as unique as the organisations and people who create them. 3M Library Systems has made it a point to understand every customer in setting up libraries to answer their every need. From tracking of books to keeping queues short, to controlling running costs and keeping library patrons happy; no matter how big and precious the book collections are, 3M is committed to our customers’ success.

Our solutions draw upon 40 years of precious insights and inspirations from customers. It is reflected in ingenious solutions like 3M Tattle-Tape Strips, 3M SelfCheck Systems, RFID Tagging and Barcodes, Return and Sorting Systems, Digital Library Assistants, and so much more. It has been a journey in which we have discovered the common values we enjoy: quality, reliability, ingenuity, practicality, usability, and the willingness to go that extra mile. These elements and collaboration bring a truly human dimension to libraries.

To our customers and library lovers everywhere, thank you for 40 wonderful years. Keep talking to us at 3M Library Systems! Here are three case studies of 3M  being used in Singapore libraries:

Nanyang Technological University Library

The Library sought a solution to provide reliable after sales service and local support. Our Library tries to automate as much as possible to reduce manpower utilization.

We implemented the 3M security system (security strips, detection gates, loan counter book checks) in 1982. This was followed by the integration of our first Library Management System (ATLAS) by DRA Research Associates in 1988. The self-check system was introduced in 1994, the first in South East Asia. In 2006, we took up the trial offer on the new V-series self check machine and bought the first unit for the new Art, Design and Media Library. We also upgraded all the self-checks to the V-series in 2007. RFID was implemented in 2009 for books and CDs/DVDs/VCDs.

Before the implementation of RFID, books returned at the book return chutes could not be updated in real time, loan transactions took a longer time as every book had to be opened up to scan the barcode and problematic barcodes had to be keyed in manually.

3M SelfCheck at NTU Library

3M self-check machines eliminated the need for staff to check out books for users, reduced queues at the service counters and enabled us to re-deploy our staff for other tasks. With RFID, loan transactions at the self checks and service counters are done more quickly as users/library staff need not open the books to scan barcodes. 3M RFID book return chutes also cancel loans in real time and update user transactions automatically, even when the libraries are closed.

Over the next few years, we envision self-service dispensing machines for popular books, books reserved by users and media that can be located outside the library to enable users to borrow them 24/7. We can see RFID technology being integrated with our Library catalogue to get a graphical location of books on shelves using mobile devices. RFID will also allow books to be returned to remote bins around the campus. New technology will enable library seats and computers to be reserved using mobile devices, and perhaps media-on-demand mobile devices will offer selections of materials such as e-books, newspapers, magazines, and Video On Demand.

Hazel Loh
Deputy Director, Library Technology & Systems Division, Nanyang Technological University Library

Ngee Ann Polytechnic Library

We wanted to give students a total library experience that is in tune with the times. While they are young, we want to be able to encourage and promote the reading habit. Thus, we set up the Lifestyle Library which embraces a lifestyle concept that will appeal to the young. Like modern international mega bookstores, the Lifestyle Library integrates an Internet cafe, music store, board games room, etc, under one roof. This has successfully enticed students to the Library to explore, discover, read and enjoy a variety of print, electronic and multimedia resources for personal, social and recreational interests.

We have 40 staff managing a collection of 206,000 volumes of books, besides a range of media, e-resources and
databases in our 7,290 sq m library. We circulate 27,000 items per month, and we have been using 3M Library
Systems since 1995. Before getting the system, there were the usual challenges: long queues because transactions were manual and slow; lag times before the user can borrow another title as items in return bins are not immediately cancelled. There was also no confirmation receipt for returns.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic Library use of 3M

3M Library Systems were implemented to change all these. It was done in stages: (1) 3M self-service issue stations in 1995; (2) Digital Library Assistant in 2000; (3) 3M Self-Service return stations in 2001. In March 2007, we upgraded three 3M self-service issue stations to the 3M V4 series for greater efficiency, reliability, user convenience and staff productivity. Radio Frequency Identification technology (RFID) self-service was implemented for the Feature Films Collection in April 2007. 3M RFID integrates the entire library collection for better organisation besides making self-service loans and returns possible. Now that users can handle this independently, queues have been minimized. This convenience has enhanced customer service. There is also the assurance of secure transactions through receipts issued for returns. This efficiency in loan transactions also frees time for library staff to do non-routine work. We will continue to explore and implement technologies to improve operational efficiency and enhance services for our users. When we think of 3M Systems, we think of great customer service, reliability
of equipment and responsiveness to customer needs.

Caroline Loh
Director, Lien Ying Chow Library, Ngee Ann Polytechnic

Temasek Polytechnic Library

Established in 1990, the Temasek Polytechnic Library covers 11,450sqm in an 11-storey building with a collection of over 200,000 volumes. On average, we handle 250,000 loans a year. We started working with 3M from the very beginning and through the years, this close working relationship has benefited both 3M and our Library.

In the early years, we faced some challenges in our Library operations, especially in dealing with security matters and handling manual checks and processes. We chose to work with 3M to address these issues as 3M is an established company, well-known for its reliable and innovative products and systems. 3M also works closely with us to obtain feedback about their products for further improvements.

Temasek Polytechnic Library use of 3M

As we grew, our Library embarked on new identification technology. We progressed from an existing 3M Tattle-Tape EM security and barcode system to enhance productivity by adding RFID (Radio FrequencyIdentification) Tags and 3M’s RFID-based equipment to improve our services and processes. We now use the DLA (Digital Library Assistant) for inventory tracking, Smartcheck for automatic check-in and sorting, and staff workstations for faster check-ins.

3M Library Systems has facilitated faster check-in and shelving of items which has not only made these daily operations more efficient but also increased our productivity. In addition, we can now use the DLA to track inhouse usage and search for missing items.

With 3M Library Systems, self-service of loans and returns are available to our patrons. The Smartcheck makes real-time return possible, and that benefits patrons by speeding up the turnaround time of items for circulation again. This has also helps free our staff to carry out other tasks.

What do I see being implemented in the Library in 3 to 5 years? I look forward to a full RFID implementation with enhancements in the security features. Perhaps 3M can look into RFID shelves for real time inventory and item availability. Also for 3M to be more environmentally friendly and send instant loan and return confirmation via email or sms, instead of printing receipts. Lastly, it would be great to have enhanced security gates with user friendly card reader access which can also provide patron identification and log items taken out of the Library.

Esther Ong
Director, Library Information Resources Dept, Temasek Polytechnic

Contributed by 3M Library Systems