|from flicker via angermann|
RFID is coming to the library. But what exactly does that mean? Radio frequency identification (RFID) systems use microchips and radio waves to send and receive data about objects that have been tagged. A useful analogy might be to think of RFID tags like high-tech barcodes.
In the world of retail, RFID has been used for quite some time to tag merchandise in stores and warehouses. Libraries are also experimenting with using this technology to manage their collections. RFID tags will be added to each item Langsdale owns, alongside classic types of library identification, like labels with call numbers.
What will this technology allow the library to do? According to Jeffrey Hutson, Langsdale’s associate director, “Our goal is to implement an RFID system for self-service, collection management, security, and more.”
Self-checkout of books is one very noticeable benefit of RFID technology in the library. Unlike the awkward way traditional barcodes had to be scanned by holding items in a specific position under a beam of laser light, RFID chips transmit a signal that will help ensure the self-checkout of books will be quick and easy. Check-in of returned items will be equally easy.
By storing data about the lending status of books, RFID will enhance the library’s security measures, as well. When library materials pass in and out of Langsdale’s gates, the RFID tags have the capacity to store and communicate the lending status of items, as well as alert staff to any circulation issues.
RFID chips will also make managing the library’s collection more efficient and precise. Electronic inventorying has the potential to transform the process of “shelf reading,” or verifying the physical location of items in the stacks. Collection management will further benefit from the implementation of this technology. The computerized processes that librarians use to add and remove materials from the library’s holdings will utilize RFID data to streamline processing.