Automated self-service kiosks improve library efficiencies
One of the most frustrating aspects of libraries is not being able to find things when they are not where they should be. For library staff, sorting out a massive number of books one by one can be a time-consuming task. For many modern library operators, the prospect of keeping librarians behind desks to handle the check-in/check-out items poses a burden.
By leveraging cutting-edge technology, librarians can now be freed up from time-consuming repetitive workloads by adopting self-service kiosks to smarten up their loans/returns processes and collection management. This means library staff have more time and autonomy to devote themselves to higher value library services for their patrons.
A supplier of RFID-based automation products for libraries now compliments their wide array of library focused products with self-loan stations, which integrate:
- A borrower card or identity certificate reader
- A payment system
- A receipt printer
- A touch screen monitor providing simple steps for users to borrow or return library items
Each kiosk is connected to the library management system via an IoT network, so that local check-in/check-out records remain synchronised with the central database. Additionally, inter-library loans can be implemented and reservation services can be offered across the library network.
The self-service kiosks can be connected to other automatic equipment in the library too, such as smart bins, automated sorters, conveyors and automated shelves. This enables library users to retrieve items they want to borrow from automated pick-up points, or have their returns instantly checked in, sorted, re-shelved or placed in a holding area without human intervention.
In addition to key features requested by the customer, it was also deemed advantageous to integrate a digital camera to provide video surveillance.
Furthermore, as the library might deploy other automation products in the future, the computer embedded in the kiosk should provide multiple I/O support to connect all interior components as well as exterior equipment in a highly integrated manner.
The Advantech solution
Versatile I/O functionality and aesthetic looks usually don’t coexist when the need for a small-sized embedded computer is required. However, Advantech’s exclusive fanless computer offering made it an easy problem to solve.
Advantech’s ARK-1124 is a fanless palm-sized embedded computer providing multiple I/O support within a highly compact mechanical design with an optional dual layer ARK-Plus module and iDoor I/O expansion module.
Benefits of selecting the ARK-1124
- A full-sized mini PCIe slot with a SIM holder which can be used to enable WIFI/3G/LTE wireless communications
- Multiple serial communication ports
- USB ports for connecting with other components inside the kiosk installations
- ARK-Plus to expand storage and I/O capabilities
- An iDoor I/O expansion module, so that this mini-sized computer can support connection with a greater number of devices and cater for future application needs
Integrated IoT device management
In terms of software support, the ARK-1124 is preinstalled with Advantech’s IoT device management platform WISE-PaaS/RMM, which provides support for most communication protocols so that the system can easily connect with the customer’s other library automation products or other third-party products in an integrated IoT network.
This would provide the library with remote monitoring functions such as remote system diagnosis and library management. It would even allow for cloud applications such as inter-library data exchanges or reservation services.
The WISE-PaaS/RMM suite contains an easy-to-use dashboard development tool for system integrates, allowing the design of customised dashboards for data display and remote monitoring needs. The system also supports Windows 10, providing convenient options for Microsoft IoT development and management services to integrate and orchestrate a large number of device types with greater ease.