30 May 2024

Auckland Libraries introduces paperless holds system

8:53 am on 30 May 2024
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Auckland Libraries has now changed its hold pick-up process to an anonymised collections system. File photo. Photo: Google Maps

Auckland Libraries will no longer print identifiable names on paper slips due to privacy concerns.

The largest library network in the country changed its hold pick-up process to an anonymised collections system this week.

Holds are now placed on numbered shelves in the pick-up area of every Auckland library. Customers will still be notified when their item is ready.

Head of library and learning services Catherine Leonard said last year they were alerted that showing customer names breached the requirements of the Privacy Act 2020; Privacy Principle 11, disclosure of personal information.

"The issue is not high on our agenda, but that does not mean it does not exist, and there is a need to address it."

The move was part of Auckland Libraries transition to an an Intelligent Material Management System, which Leonard said was used by most libraries in Denmark, and was starting to be used across libraries in Scandanavia, the UK and the US.

Leonard said the new technology will help staff manage the 2.65 million physical items and more than 550,000 digital items in its collection, and free up time to focus on customer queries.

"The driver of this initiative has never been about cutting staff costs. It is about automating manual processes to enable staff to have more time to work with customers on more impactful service.

"The libraries that have introduced it have the same challenges around manual handling, balancing their collections across a network of multiple community libraries, and compliance with privacy regulations."

She said algorithms behind the system will mean items become available more quickly and collections can be easily adapted to local preferences.

They also anticipated less occupational safety and health issues for staff.

Auckland is the first library network in Australasia to introduce a paperless holds system, which Leonard said will have environmental benefits as well as cost savings.

Auckland Libraries would not disclose the cost of the upgrades and told RNZ costs related to the new software are commercially sensitive.

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