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What's New With RFID for Libraries?

Posted By RFID Journal, 08.28.2013

Are there any recent innovations in this field with regard to radio frequency identification?

—Name withheld


I'm not sure there is an awful lot that is new, as RFID has been used in libraries for more than a decade now. Perhaps one new development is the use of ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) technology. Last year, the Grand Rapids Public Library launched an RFID solution consisting of fixed and handheld readers, tags on all media, and software designed by the library's IT department, in order to manage RFID read data and integrate it with the existing library-management system (see Grand Rapids Library Adopts UHF RFID Technology).

Most libraries deploy shorter-range high-frequency (HF) systems. Grand Rapids is believed to be the first library in North America to use UHF RFID, though some in Latin America had already adopted the technology. The main advantage is a longer read range, which helps when seeking a particular book on shelves. Given that the vast majority of libraries are employing HF RFID, it is unclear whether the use of passive UHF will become a trend or remain an anomaly.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal


Mick Fortune 2013-08-29 02:10:30 PM
The biggest change has probably been the establishment of data standards for library RFID with ISO 28560-2 being recommended by both the American National Information Standards Organisation and Britain's Book Industry Communication. Australia too elected to use the same standard. With the International Standards Organisation now working on a version for UHF (ISO 28560-4) we may reasonably anticipate that more library applications - based on ISO 28560 - will begin appearing over the next few years. The UK is already seeing this happen in areas like stock management and ILL. Another change that is likely to have some impact is the advent of NFC - which enables smartphones and tablets to interact directly with stock. Self-issue by smartphone is already in use in some global markets. I will be talking more about this - and the 2013 survey of RFID use in libraries at conferences in York (UK) and Berlin (Germany) over the next two weeks.
Lori Ayre 2013-08-29 08:07:24 PM
Actually, Grand Rapids is the second US library to use UHF. The first is a small library in Minnesota that is the test site for 3M. After establishing that library as test site, they decided it wasn't a direction they wanted to go. But things keep changing so who knows! Some of the more interesting things happening in libraries around RFID have to do with "smart shelves" that enable libraries to know where items are at all times because readers are embedded in the shelves, using RFID in acquisitions workflows (e.g. receiving a box full of books into the system rather than scanning each one individually), and perhaps someday there will be some interesting integrations with patron smartphones. But so far, most of this stuff is in a very early adopter phase at best.

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