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Some Clearwater libraries will use RFID chip technology

CLEARWATER — Some Clearwater public libraries will implement a high-tech tracking system that will save staff time and reduce errors when patrons return books, DVDs and other materials.

The main library will be the first to debut the Radio Frequency IDentification system, which works through computer chips embedded into books and other materials.

Largo has an older version at its library that it is updating. Tampa and St. Petersburg don't have the software.

The City Council last week approved a $582,548 contract with Bibliotheca LLC, a global company with its U.S. headquarters in Norcross, Ga., to install the system, which will also come with automatic sorting bins that will separate returned materials for the larger branches, said Barbara Pickell, Clearwater library director.

"As our budgets go down, staffing is a big issue so we look for ways that technology can help us be more effective," Pickell said.

The software should reduce errors — and erroneous late fees, she said. The system automatically checks materials back in as they pass through the slot. And patrons won't have to open their book for scanning at check-out.

The main library should have the new system in place within eight months, Pickell said.

The Countryside and East branches will get the RFID technology when their new facilities open. The Beach and North Greenwood branches — the Clearwater Library System's smallest branches — will have to wait for now, Pickell said.

The RFID system will be located in the book drops near the front desks.

Charlie Frago can be reached at or (727) 445-4159. You can follow him on Twitter @CharlieFrago.