PALMDALE — It's not easy putting stickers--one at a time--on the covers of tens of thousands of books. But that's what they call progress at the Palmdale City Library.
The stickers are among the changes occurring as the library introduces modern technology to its checkout system, replacing a manual system as old as the library.
The task of sticking more than 100,000 bar-code stickers on books, magazines and other items that can be borrowed will force the city to close the library for the month of October, the longest the facility has ever been closed.
Already four other public libraries in the Antelope Valley, all run by Los Angeles County, have drastically reduced their hours due to budget cuts.
"I'm going to cry," said Orion Lippert, a longtime regular at the Palmdale City Library who said he browses the shelves for reading material as often as five times a week.
The monthlong closing begins Sept. 30.
When the library reopens Nov. 1 it will have replaced its cumbersome checkout system, in operation since the late 1970s, and its limited computerized catalogue with a state-of-the-art, on-line automated system.
City Librarian Linda Storsteen described the new system as nothing short of heaven.
Palmdale is spending about $230,000 for the system, which Storsteen said will save thousands of hours of staff time and more than $40,000 annually in operating expenses.
The new system will allow patrons to check out bar-coded books in a few seconds. It now takes about 30 seconds per item for the nearly 450,000 items checked out annually.
Using an on-line catalogue system, people will also be able to find out if a book is available or checked out and when it's due. Eventually Storsteen said people will be able to peruse the library's holdings, and even reserve an item, from their home computers.
And for patrons who have not visited the Palmdale City Library for a while because they have an overdue book, the library is offering amnesty on fines during September in preparation for the bar-coding.