On RFID in Library books 2

June 03, 2004

Librarian Laura Smart has written a thorough, balanced piece on use of RFID in Libraries for the RFID News website called "Outside the Supply Chain":

Most libraries currently use barcodes to manage materials flow and electromagnetic strips for security, but of course RFID can be used for both functions. Tags may be affixed to items as they are received or pre-applied by book sellers. Unlike barcode self-check systems, RFID systems can read multiple items simultaneously. This can decrease lines and increase the number of customers using self-check, in turn reducing the staff necessary at the circulation desk. Personnel can be reallocated to other public service functions. Other benefits of the technology include high-speed inventory, shelving accuracy, the automated processing of returned materials and decreased reshelving time.


Library systems run the risk of an unauthorized third-party creating a database of tag information. Individuals are subject to undetectable identification by anyone with an appropriate RFID reader. For instance law enforcement agencies might monitor the movement of local copies of religious materials. On a broader scope, a dragnet of unobtrusive readers could be cross-referenced with ALS records to track patronís movements.

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