Radio Frequency Identification [RFID] has overtaken bar codes for cataloging and processing library materials.
As the Shipping & Receiving Supervisor, I've been keeping statistics of daily deliveries for many years.
I can confirm that circulation of library materials has increased over the years and I believe that there has also been a change in seasonal circulation.
In past years circulation drops off during the summer months but it remained high this past summer.
The Library books are transferred between branches packed in reusable gray plastic bins. The Book Returns come at an average of 50 bins per day and the "Holds" average 25 bins per day.
They were being unpacked at an average rate of roughly 45 boxes of returns and 20 boxes of "Holds" per day and a back log would accumulate until there were upwards of 200 boxes of returns and 100 boxes of "Holds" waiting to be unpacked and processed.
At this point, extra staff were required to blitz the back log and catch up.
With the introduction of RFID technology at the Toronto Public Library the back logs have disappeared.
Instead of scanning one bar code at a time, a half dozen books can have their RFID tags scanned at once.
Now, after many years, the Circulation Department has gone from slowly getting buried in work to whizzing through it in record time and new efficiencies have been realized.
The tables have been turned on me: Before; it was a matter of informing the Circulation Department to pick up the pace in order to clear the back log and make room for more delivery: Now the Circulation Department is demanding that the delivery come earlier.
But it doesn't end there!
So, this brings me around to the title 'Library "Minority Report"'.
The introduction of RFID technology in the Library allows for further automation.
Sorting machines are being introduced that will receive materials on a conveyor belt, scan and sort them into boxes reducing human involvement in the process.
The masking tape on the floor is like the chalk marks outlining the victim at a crime scene.
The "Minority Report" refers to a crime that has not happened yet, but this is the place where it will happen soon.
The sorting machine is outlined by the masking tape and it is the sorting machine that is going to MURDER jobs.
Before the Ford Brothers' Circus came to town, it was understood that staff would be redeployed to other tasks, like getting out and assisting more patrons...
Additionally; over the past several years the Library Executive and Board have been considering keeping the Library open until Midnight!
This plan would keep the lower seniority, part-time and predominantly Female staff at work until the wee hours instead of closing at 8:30pm. The staff that are being displaced by machines would be spread thinner to cover more hours of operation.
Now that the Ford Brothers' Circus have come to town, Branch Closures and reduction of hours are being discussed.
According to the report from the Library Executive and Board regarding cutting costs and finding new efficiencies, the new book scanning / sorting machines will eliminate Three Full-Time Equivalent Jobs [FTE].
That's up to SIX Part-Time Jobs Murdered by each Sorting Machine....
End of Minority Report.