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Ask The Experts Forum
Should Library Workers Worry About Being Shelved?
In public libraries, there are concerns among staff members that deploying RFID technology will result in job losses. For example, employees who check out books could be replaced by self-checkout machines that use RFID technology. How do you respond to this very real issue?
I certainly understand the concern. New technologies, with their promise of greater efficiencies, often lead to fears regarding job losses. Those concerns are sometimes well-founded, and sometimes not.
In the case of radio frequency identification's use in libraries, I don't think there is much cause for alarm. In most of the articles we've written about libraries using RFID (click here), the benefits have not been in the area of labor savings. Rather, they have involved improving inventory-management processes and reducing the amount of time librarians spend on that task, thereby increasing the time available for them to serve patrons—which would not require layoffs.
I would encourage libraries that have implemented RFID technologies to comment below on whether they have had to terminate any employees as a result of their deployments. My guess is that very few have—but it would be nice to hear from the libraries themselves.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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