New system at Chuckatuck Library revolutionizes library access

Published 8:41 pm Monday, January 15, 2024

The Suffolk Public Library is preparing a new project to provide more accessibility for Chuckatuck Library patrons. Following their initiatives to increase the Chuckatuck Library’s usage, the library system will introduce the new Open+ Access system, which plans to provide authorized access to the library building based on the community’s needs. Along with integrating both current library and city systems, security will also be provided for the project. Suffolk Director of Libraries Clint S. Rudy talked more about the project. 

“…With the pandemic, we have been evaluating services and trying to really determine what the community needs and to be responsive to those needs. And one of the things we’ve really tried to focus on is when and where and how do people like to access library services? And so for our Chuckatuck Library, it’s a unique opportunity to try out some new things, and one of those things is to really try to be on demand when people really need services, not necessarily dependent on when we are actually open,” Rudy said. 

Rudy explained that one of their ideas was to provide access to the building outside of business hours with staff not present.

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“And so we did research and we were able to find out other libraries who provide access to their facilities, usually through an authorized means and that people can access it when they need to,” he said. “And so we found a product through a vendor that we use for our radio frequency identification technology, our ID, and so we haven’t officially purchased it from them yet. We have to go through procurement, but we’re hoping to use them and that it will integrate with our current system.”

Since his arrival to the Suffolk Library system 10 years ago, Rudy says that the Chuckatuck Library has been an area he and his team focused on making responsive to the community.

“As many people know we have three libraries in the city and Chuckatuck is our smallest at approximately 2,000 square feet. So it provides a unique space in that community and we really want to try to make it as responsive as possible,” Rudy said. “Currently, we provide access to that building [from] 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., only on Mondays and so we’d like to think about ways we can expand access in the most economic way possible, and technology we feel is one way we can do that.”

Rudy detailed the new keypad system that will be part of the Open+ Access system. 

“…We plan to do a heavy marketing plan where we communicate specifically with the Chuckatuck community, but with all of Suffolk in that this is going to be available and building up to when it’s going to go live and that it will be a reservation basis first. So people will be able to reserve the use of the library in Chuckatuck just like they do for our meeting spaces in Chuckatuck, but also at the Morgan Memorial and North Suffolk libraries and that will all be done online,” Rudy said. “But people can also call and reserve and then, when they arrive to the building, we’re also going to have signage there as well to instruct people. But they will just need to have their library card, enter the number or scan the barcode on their library card, and then everyone has a four digit or more pin number that they choose on their library account and that will grant them authorized access.”

Rudy also detailed that security and safety measures will be implemented for the project, also noting that all three library locations have security cameras “inside and outside” with Chuckatuck being the newest of the three locations to have them.

“And so every part of the library inside and then most of the parts outside will be covered by cameras. Staff will be able to observe them from the other two locations,” Rudy said. “And those will provide recording [of] everything that happens, and then the keypad will provide only authorized access for those who have scheduled the appointment and then have been granted access to enter the facility and the doors will be locked otherwise, unless you have that barcode and your PIN number.”

Regarding when residents can expect the launch of Open+ Access, Rudy said his goal is to have it during National Library Week in April.

“I think that would be a great time for us to make sure that we’re getting all of the policies and procedures together talking with the police department, our city’s Risk Management Department and making sure staff are trained and then we will have be able to test it and implement it and my goal would be April 1,” he said.

Likewise, on any plans to incorporate Open+ Access to both Morgan Memorial and North Suffolk libraries, Rudy notes that Chuckatuck will likely be the only one using the project.

“The way Chuckatuck is configured, it really only works for that facility, just the way it’s designed. But our hope is to incorporate some of these elements for the new Downtown Library, which we hope will have our groundbreaking ceremony in just a few months,” he said.

Lastly, Rudy expressed his hopes for patrons to use the project following its launch as well as stopping by the Chuckatuck Library.

“Explore it if you have not already been there,” Rudy said. “And also take advantage of the other services and programs and classes and events that we offer at all three locations.”