RFID Tags and their relationships to libraries

         RFID tags is really something I only learnt last week, which is interesting enough to myself because I’ve seen them a lot. RFID tags look like this, or at least that’s the one I know I’ve seen but RFID tags can also look like this, that’s an RFID tag next to a grain of rice (spoilers for people who looked at the image and not clicked on the link. I always wondered, whenever I went to a library they have self-service borrowing stations (I think they implemented this because of the traffic to the borrowing desk, but most libraries I’ve visited at least has one of these stations; so whenever I went into a library, got some books to look at to borrow I would go up to these stations and borrow and it’d borrow them all in a zap. Thank you whoever invited these, because you at least made my anxiety, moderately calm.

          This blog posts talks about what are the uses of RFID tags in a library, and well, I explained one reason but there are multiple reasons as to why libraries and RFID tags co-exist. The Belconnen Library’s video showcases how RFID tags are put into place, and it looks really simple, scan the barcode, print a sticker off, slap said sticker on and hey ho presto Bob’s your uncle. But here are seven advantages of RFID tagging in libraries.

  1. Easier and faster way of scanning through the books, rather then scanning just the barcode.
  2. Simplified patron check out, this makes it that the patron checks out the books and make it easy for them instead of a librarians job.
  3. 100% read detection rate, there is no sense that there’d be any fault.
  4. 50% to 75% drop in false alarm, the barcode has a high false alarm rate, whereas RFID tags hardly go off.
  5. High speed inventory.
  6. Automated return and sorting of items, they’re faster and efficient to scan back into the system.
  7. Longer lifespan then barcodes, they fade away after so many scans whereas RFID would take a thousand or more scans before it broke down.

However, there comes some disadvantages:

  1. Higher price cost then barcodes, barcodes are quick and cheap to print off; whereas RFID tags you’re looking at up to $50+ dollars to spend.
  2. Many people believe it’ll block other radio frequencies.
  3. Exit sensor fields aren’t 100% (but everything isn’t 100%, let’s be real).
  4. There are no international standards set in place.

These all come from Scott Cadoo who wrote it for ALIA, the Australia Library and Information Association’s report on ‘RFID’s use within libraries: an Australian perspective‘. All these advantages and disadvantages come from 2003, over 10 years ago (in fact this was 13 years ago… whoa). RFID tags have a valuable place in libraries, they’re easy and quick, and they help people like with social anxiety to not want to talk to people (not that we don’t like people, I just can’t talk to new people that’s all). I like RFID tags, they offer a great resource. They can be used for self-check out, check in/out services, tagging, anti-theft detection, book drops and shelf management. They’re wonderful!



One thought on “RFID Tags and their relationships to libraries

  1. Paul chartier says:

    Hi Melissa,
    One of my ongoing searches picked up your blog about RFID and libraries. You make some interesting points. I am not sure where you got your price details from, but the tags are now costing about 10 cents US.

    Thee are international standards for RFID of libraries. One is called ISO 28560-2, for which I am co-Project Editor with an Australian library expert, Allan Butters of Sybis. You can see details if the standard here: http://www.iso.org/iso/home/search.htm?qt=28560-2&sort=rel&type=simple&published=on and Alan here: http://www.sybis.com.au/

    Alan operates an RFID compliance testing service using our software.

    Keep up the good work.

    Paul Chartier
    Managing Director, Convergent Software Ltd


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