November 7, 1996

Check this out

Arts students Karim Bardeesy (right) and John Provart (sitting) recently test-drove one of the University's new SelfCheck units. Four of McGill's libraries--Education, Health Sciences, McLennan and Physical Sciences & Engineering--are now equipped with these machines which enable library users to check out books without visiting the libraries' circulation desks. The machines were produced by 3M.

The Arts Undergraduate Society (where Bardeesy and Provart serve as executives) bought one of the units for the University, while 3M (with some gentle nudging from the Faculty of Engineering) donated another machine to McGill.

Library staff say the units are easy to use--like bank machines, the units use on-screen prompts to guide users through the different steps involved in checking out a book.

The unit reads the bar codes on library cards, records the transaction, prints out a date-due slip and desensitizes the book so that it can be safely transported past the security gates near the libraries' exits.

"I think the machines will really come in handy during the busy times of the year," says McLennan librarian Maggie Monks. "Students can just go to the machines--they won't have to wait in long line-ups as much."

The units will also permit students to take out library books even when the circulation desks are closed. "This should also free up our circulation staff so that they can spend more time answering questions and providing good customer service," says Monks.