News and Insights
Delivered to Your Inbox

10 Ways to Improve Results: Self-Checkout

October 26, 2023

Featured Photo: Winter Park Library, FL (Tech Logic's selfCIRC PRIME Desktop Kiosk)

Certainly, self-checkout is no longer a new technology for most libraries—in fact, libraries were on the leading edge of training patrons for self-services in society at large (think grocery stores and airports). However, having implemented self-checkout, libraries tend to become complacent about their ongoing return on investment. How can we increase adoption of self-checkout above 90%, and what happens when we do? Here are ten suggestions to improve the results of self-checkout.

  1. Locate self-checkout stations where patrons would naturally use them—on the Circulation desk, near the entrance, next to holds pick-up shelves, and in the Children’s area. And identify them with clear signage and minimal clutter.
  2. Provide enough self-checkout stations (as many as you can afford) to handle traffic during library peak use times to ensure that self-checkout is the patron’s speediest option.

  3. Design the appropriate self-checkout experience for each area. Place a cluster of stations where a single staff member can train and assist patrons to succeed; set up kiosks where patrons can be completely independent to resolve blocks and pay fines.
  4. Keep it simple. The more options and clutter on or around the screen, the longer the patron needs to navigate through a session. Watch patrons navigate to learn what needs to be easier.
  5. Improve the speed and convenience of self-checkout with RFID and the ability to stack materials on an antenna. Patrons will enthusiastically embrace self-checkout if they no longer have to figure out how to position and re-adjust materials for barcode scanning.

  6. Make sure staff encourages the self-checkout adoption by inviting and coaching patrons to use it successfully. Staff should be positive and reassure patrons that using self-checkout will enable staff to provide other library services.

  7. Remove as many barriers as possible to the patron’s successful checkout, such as low borrowing limits or fine/fee limits. Consider whether it really makes sense to keep patrons from library resources.

  8. Ensure that self-checkout stations are working and that they reliably disarm security tags. If patrons lose confidence in the system, winning them back is a steep climb. Task staff members with regularly cleaning and testing each station and the security gates.

  9. Make payment by credit card at self-checkout, the most convenient in-house option for patrons. Limit options for cash payment (it requires more equipment and staff involvement) and even consider ways to motivate patrons to pay online.

  10. Reduce staffing at the circulation desk. At least move staff to back room tasks where they can be summoned with a call button. If the above suggestions are in place, self-checkout is working for patrons, and staff should be relocated instead of waiting for patrons to checkout.

Be sure to give staff regular feedback about reaching that 90%+ adoption of self-checkout and let branches know how all of them are doing on the goal. Then, create a plan for shifting staff to new tasks, new positions, or reallocating positions from Circulation to other services. Finally, give your self-checkout vendor feedback about adopting their solution and any needed improvements.

If you have questions for Gretchen or you would like to connect, please feel free to reach out to us!

Tech Logic connects libraries with their communities through dynamic, innovative, and efficient workflow technologies—delivering unparalleled service and outstanding patron experience. Since 1997, we have worked exclusively with libraries to develop solutions that empower library patrons and staff.