Subcommittee approves library updates, shelves Hance Park report

Downtown’s largest park is Hance Park, located between McDowell and Roosevelt roads just east of the light rail. (Jade Carter/DD)

A city subcommittee approved two updates for Phoenix libraries on Tuesday but shelved an update on the recently approved Hance Park Sponsorship Policy.

The Phoenix Public Library requested that the subcommittee recommend City Council approval for it to develop and issue a Request for Proposal for an Automated Materials Handling System at Burton Barr Central Library. The AMHS system to is designed to streamline and expedite the processing of returned checkout materials. With this system in place, the time it takes to sort and prepare returned items is reduced from several days to just a few hours.

“It’s going to be a great efficiency for us,” City Librarian Rita Hamilton said. “It will be behind the scenes, but people will be able to turn their materials in and get automatically checked in and then presorted to get back on the shelf much faster.”

In 2013, the Phoenix Public Library installed its first AMHS system at the Mesquite Library. The AMHS being considered for the Burton Barr Central Library would be much larger in size.

“It makes our staff’s jobs a lot easier,” Public Information Officer Lee Franklin said. “Their volume can increase significantly and what they can do in a work day.”

When asked about the possibility of the AMHS replacing workers due to its extreme efficiency, Franklin assured that library workers will have nothing to fear.

Using a bagel shop as an example, Franklin explained how the advancement of cooking technology did not necessarily put the person behind the counter out of a job. Instead of preparing the bagel by hand, the worker uses the machine to help perform the job in a much more convenient fashion.

“With the machine, the bagel’s cut more efficiently, and safely, and faster, and the person can do more of them,” Franklin said. “It didn’t remove the need for the person.”

If City Council grants approval, the Phoenix Public Library will create Request for Proposals, or RFPs, which are invitations for companies to provide their concepts for the Burton Barr Central Library’s AMHS. After the concepts are collected, a panel is held to decide which plan meets the needs of the project. After one is selected, development may begin.

Another item on the meeting’s agenda was a review of the Hance Park Sponsorship Policy, which is the financial backing for the Hance Park Master Plan, a $135 million revitalization effort for Hance Park. Approved March 23 by the Parks and Recreation Board, the policy is an effort to reach out to different organizations that would be interested in funding the remodeling of the park.

Council decided to not hear the agenda item and postponed it along with several other agenda items to its next meeting on May 24.

“We had a ‘master plan’ that was unveiled several years ago,” Parks and Recreation Public Information Officer Gregg Bach said. “We revised that recently within the last year.”

One change is that anyone who donates money toward the new amenities for the park would also have naming rights for those areas.

Before the sponsorship policy was adopted, Cable One, Inc. donated $100,000 to the revitalization effort, which will be put toward erecting an amphitheater at the park. The master plan is expected to be completed over the course of a few years.

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