I don’t think the main benefit of using RFID in a library is to enhance a library-goer’s access to information. After all, most libraries maintain sophisticated databases of the books on their shelves, enabling visitors to search by author, title or subject. Rather, the primary benefits of using RFID in a library are that it greatly improves the processes involved in managing books, CDs, DVDs and other media, and that it allows self-checkout.
Library RFID systems enable librarians to quickly locate books on shelves, track down volumes shelved in the wrong locations and quickly process patrons checking out. A librarian with an RFID wand could quickly scan the shelves and take inventory of all books located in a particular area. If books were missing, the librarian could investigate whether they were in other departments, return bins or elsewhere, and readers in the bins could alert the librarian when a book on reserve was returned.
Self checkout is a great benefit for libraries. Rather than asking a patron to scan a book’s bar code, a visitor could place a stack of books on a kiosk, and they could all be identified immediately. The library-goer could than swipe his or her mag-stripe library card, or wave an RFID-enabled library card, and the books could be linked to that individual’s card. Then, interrogators mounted at the doorway could confirm that the patron was removing only the books he or she had checked out.
Many libraries have adopted RFID systems, and librarians overwhelmingly embrace the technology. That’s because these systems make their jobs easier, by reducing the amount of time they spend locating books, and by allowing them to spend more time assisting library-goers.
—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal
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