Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Teresa Peacock, of Syracuse, uses new self-checkout station at the Davis County Library as her son Eli, 5, waits.

SYRACUSE — It really is as easy as one, two, three.

Scan your library card. Scan your book's bar code. Decide if you want a receipt.

As Clinton resident Jamie Van Beekum finished checking out a book at the Davis County Library's Syracuse branch recently, the only thing that stopped her from leaving the library in about 30 seconds was a reporter with a few questions.

Van Beekum had just used the branch's self-checkout station, which shares counter space with the traditional checkout system.

The $16,000 self-checkout system went live last week after a couple of weeks of tests, said Carrie Murphy, the library's branch manager.

If all goes well, Davis County Library director Chris Sanford plans to add self-checkout stations each year until all branches have them. Regular checkout will still be available.

Murphy said her branch is a great testing ground, because even though it's small, it's one of the busiest branches in Davis County. When the branch opened in 2003, it had about 30,000 items. Now, it has more than 70,000 items, which can't seem to be shelved fast enough.

From last year to this year, the branch saw a 5 percent increase in circulation, according to a library news release.

So letting patrons check out their own materials, especially when the branch is busy, will free up librarians to get items back in circulation, Murphy said.

Patrons on Friday seemed to agree with the library's approach.

Van Beekum said she's familiar with self checkout at the grocery store, which also operates with a touch-screen interface.

Linda Glass, from Clinton, said she sometimes has to stand in line at the Syracuse branch.

"(Now) you don't have to wait," she said.

And if there's a problem or a special scenario, such as checking out a DVD or CD, a librarian is always nearby to help.

Davis County moved to implement the self checkout station after observing a library branch in Salt Lake County where patrons checked out their own materials for 45 minutes without the help of a librarian. Each of Salt Lake County's 18 branches allows self checkout, said Greg Near, spokesman for Salt Lake County Library Services.

Most of the branches, 11, use radio frequency identification, and seven branches have barcode scanners. Somewhere between 95 percent and 98 percent of items checked out from Salt Lake County libraries are processed using self checkout.

Radio frequency identification allows multiple items to be checked out at one time by placing them on a special pad, Near said. The county library's 2 million items have been outfitted with special tags similar to those used as theft deterrents in stores.

"In a survey we conducted in 2008, 95 percent of respondents were 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with the self-checkout system," Near said.

Radio frequency identification will also be installed in the Weber County Library's new Pleasant Valley Branch, which opens April 25, said library director Lynnda Wangsgard. For the past 15 years, the Weber County Library has been offering self checkout to its patrons with bar code scanners.

Davis County opted not to affix radio tags to its 647,332 items, Sanford said, because it would have been cost-prohibitive.

"I'm confident it's going to be successful," Sanford said.

E-MAIL: jdougherty@desnews.com