Photo IDs meant to make it easier for library patrons

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 17, 2012

By Mark Wineka
SALISBURY — If you’ve gone to the public library lately in Rowan County, you may have been asked to smile — for the camera.
No, this isn’t the Department of Motor Vehicles. And new library cards aren’t coming with photos like driver licenses.
But when Rowan Public Library customers check out materials these days, they likely are being asked to pose for a mug shot.
Suzanne White, public services manager for Rowan Public Library and manager of the South and East branches, says the photo-taking is meant as a convenience for library users. She emphasizes that having your photograph taken is not mandatory.
The biggest convenience — for customers and staff — is that by having a photograph in the library’s computer system, you could still check out materials if you happened to forget your card.
All the library employees have to do is compare the person in front of them with the photograph linked to that account on their computers.
The photo capability was a new feature of a computer software upgrade done for the library about a year ago, White says.
“It’s almost seamless,” she says of the process.
White says a “web cam” sits at the circulation counters of all the branches, and staff members ask if the library patron would like a picture of him or her to go with their account. The photo is taken at the counter where the patron is doing his transaction. No special room or curtain is needed.
“It is really simple and quick,” White says. “Kids like it especially. … We’re all about making it simple and easy for folks.”
Again, the photograph is stored with a person’s account on the library computer system. You do not receive a photo-ID library card.
White says adding the photo identification component as information on a person’s account is a common trend among public libraries.
Under usual circumstances, when a person requests a library card, he is asked to provide a photo identification. A driver’s license is used typically, or an identification card from the state or military.
If the address on the identification card is current, nothing else is needed. If proof of a current address is required, the patron might be asked to bring in something such as a utility bill with the correct address.
As of Friday, Rowan Public Library had 74,748 registered users over all of its locations.
The new photo identification has a side benefit of prohibiting some theft from the library.
Say a person stole a library card and tried to check out materials in that name. If the person’s account on the library computer happened to have a photograph attached, the staff member could compare the photo to the person at the counter.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.