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>> News >> RFID Technology for Libraries


How to use rfid technology in the library?



RFID can be used library circulation operations and theft detection systems. RFID-based systems move beyond security to become tracking systems that combine security with more efficient tracking of materials throughout the library.

This technology helps librarians reduce valuable staff time spent scanning Barcodes while charging and discharging items. RFID is a combination of radio -frequency-based technology and microchip technology. The information contained on microchips in the tags affixed to library materials is read using radio frequency technology, regardless of item orientation or alignment. The RFID gates at the library exit(s) can be as wide as four feet because the tags can be read at a distance of up to two feet by each of two parallel exit gate sensors.

Readers in RFID library are used in the following ways:
Conversion station: where library data is written to the tag
Staff workstation at circulation: used to charge and discharge library materials
Self check-out station: used to check out library materials without staff assistance
Self check-in station: used to check in library materials without staff assistance
Exit sensors: to verify that all material leaving the library has been checked out
Book-drop reader: used to automatically discharge library materials and reactivate security
Sorter and conveyor: automated system for returning material to proper area of library
Hand-held reader: used for inventorying and verifying that material is shelved correctly.

Key Features of RFID in Libraries
The reliability of the system, its ease of operation, and the flexibility of tagging all kinds of media easily, are important criteria in choosing an RFID system. The main aim for today's libraries in adopting RFID is the need to increase efficiency and reduce cost. Automation and self-service can help libraries of all sizes achieve these aims, and RFID has the added advantage that it can also provide security for the range of different media offered in libraries. The technology can also improve circulation and inventory control, which helps allocate human and financial resources. This means that libraries can relieve their professional employees of routine work and operational tasks.

All of the tags used in RFID technology for libraries are "passive." The power to read the tags comes from the reader or exit sensor (reader), rather than from a battery within the tag. A few libraries use "smart" card, which is an RFID card with additional encryption, is an alternative to merely adding an RFID tag on staff and user identification cards. Not only does that identify users for issue and return of library materials, but also for access to restricted areas or services. This would make it possible to make it into a "debit" card, with value added upon pre-payment to the library and value subtracted when a user used a photocopier, printer, or other fee-based device, or wished to pay fines or fees.

Best Practices for Libraries
As libraries are implementing RFID systems, it is important to develop best practices guidelines to utilize the technology in best way and to keep the privacy concern away. The following may be the best practices guidelines for library RFID use.

* The Library should be open about its use of RFID technology including providing publicly available documents stating the rational for using RFID, objectives of its use and associated policies and procedure and who to contact with questions.
* Signs should be pasted at all facilities using RFID. The signs should inform the public that RFID technology is in use, the types of usage and a statement of protection of privacy and how this technology differs from other information collection methods.
* Only authorized personnel should have access to the RFID system.
* No personal information should be stored on the RFID tag.
* Information describing the tagged item should be encrypted on the tag even if the data is limited to a serial number.
* No static information should be contained on the tag (bar code, manufacturer number) that can be read by unauthorised readers.
* All communication between tag and reader should be encrypted via a unique encryption key.
* All RFID readers in the library should be clearly marked.
* ISO 18000 mode-2 tags should be used rather than ISO 15693.

RFID Security in Libraries
By using read/write tags in combination with exit readers, libraries will be able to use the RFID system for theft detection. The security bit can be deactivated at checkout. Then, the exit readers will not react to the security bit. If the bit is active, because the item was not checked out, the item will set off the alarm at the exit sensors. Some libraries use a surveillance system that is triggered by this alarm so the person taking the item though the exit will be caught on video. When the item is returned to the library, this security bit is reversed.

 
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