The Northampton Arts Council works to support and nurture the arts in the city of Northampton. The Council awards grants twice each year to artists and arts groups from both state and locally-raised funds, and seeks to improve public awareness of the arts. Its' goals include maintaining and preserving the rich and diverse cultural heritage of Northampton, programming such annual events of interest to the community as First Night Northampton and Transperformance.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Self-Service at Forbes Library is Underway

Forbes Library began offering a self-service check out option at the main desk in August. To date one-third of all adult circulation transactions are being handled through the new self-service kiosks. Patrons are responding positively to the new option which has proven to be quick and easy to use. The library is anticipating a further increase in usage now that non-book formats like DVD and books-on-CD on hold for our patrons are also available on the public holds shelf which was launched at the same time. The public holds shelf utilizes a coded identity system to protect the anonymity of patrons, and items are shelved spine down when feasible to further protect privacy. Patrons have the option to request that their code be changed as well as request that items are held behind the circulation desk. You can learn more about the new service through the FAQ page available on the library’s website,

The library introduced self-service check out to provide better customer service. The library had 60,000 more visitors last year than 10 years ago and inter-library loan (ILL) is popular among the library’s patrons. Last year the library received 40,000 items from other libraries for patron holds. Circulation overall has remained strong including a 5% jump in the number of books being borrowed last year over the previous year.

The library has also expanded its services to include a larger calendar of programs for patrons of all ages, a satellite office of the Franklin Hampshire Career Center, and vastly increased the amount of community outreach it is conducting all while maintaining level staffing. This summer the library reopened on Saturdays for the first time in 10 years which is something the community asked for. “We are very proud of our ambitious service model. We have made it our mission to remain relevant by continually reevaluating our services and increasing our reach to underserved and vulnerable populations,” said director Lisa Downing.

Self-service options raise questions about work force reduction efforts. The administration assures the public that this is not the case at Forbes. “Staff time freed up through self-service will be reinvested in meeting the goals of the library’s strategic plan,” said Downing. The plan was written last year based on extensive community feedback and can be viewed on the library’s website,

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