Mls, regional information center for science & technology
Mls, regional information center for science & technology
RFID is used for checking out library materials, internal management, preservation, easiness of handling tasks for library staffs as well as automatic delivery of library resources in prompt and quick time.
By making use of this technology we can overcome lack of specialists, high expenditures, manual sorting of books, library thefts, long line in front of circulation desk and inventory task.
Keyword: RFID, library materials and services, inventory, preservation, thefts.
RFID works based on modulation frequency principles. RFID tags receive radio signals from reader and then send back their information to the reader again.
Tags can reflect different frequencies. Each library can adjust its items to this system, and patrons can better make use of library services. Library staffs would better serve their communities and repeated tasks would be avoided. The system is sensitive to library items and will sound an alarm when items are removed from library without being checked.
Library users can check out items automatically from circulation desks without needing library staffs help. In this system stacks of books can be scanned far away from the reader. On average 10 to 20 books on shelves are scanned in 1 second and can be compared to shelflist at the same time.
With portable RFID scanner, we can find books that are misplaced in shelves easily. Libraries use RFID for tracking library materials and reducing inventory from several days to few hours.
RFID was first introduced in the north America as an automatic process for getting access to books and library materials, and was installed at Rockefeller university library in New York in 1999. The first public library that began making use of RFID was the Farmington Community Library in Michigan, also in 1999(smart, 2004). Since then, more than three hundred libraries have, or are in the process of implementing RFID system. Today The United States, The United Kingdom and Japan libraies are among countries that widely use this technology. It is estimated that more than 35 million library items have been tagged by RFID worldwide (Young,2004). Vatican library recently has started labling RFID tags on more than twelve thousand items of its library collections. This has reduced inventory time from one month to one day. Labling two of forty million items is planned for future (libbengua, 2004).
Beside increasing the process of checking out library items, sorting books, cutting down on injuries for library staffs, RFID has provided better control of library collections by avoiding library thefts, misplacing books on shelves and…….
San Francisco public library expects RFID to make compensations for injuries of library staffs up to $265000 for the next 3 year (Alori, 2004).
In early stage of department, RFID has faced lots of unsolved problems such as privacy, lack of standardization and high costs.
Information technology development in California Libraries Associations conducted a survey resulted in that among 51% of libraries not using RFID, 58% mentioned high cost and 9% complained about lack of standardization (California Library RFID Survey, 2005).
Molnar and Wagner have discovered several serious vulnerabilities related to a library patron’s privacy, including lack of appropriate access control, the shortcomings in the collision- avoidance protocols in place today and poor key management practices (Molnar, 2004).
Brar & Singh conducted a research on 29 libraries using RFID technology in the United States. Out of these libraries, 26 were public libraries, 2 were academic and 1 was special library. Results of this survey showed that 80% of these libraries had management systems based on RFID technology. Variables that analyzed were: Circulation of library materials, inventory,
security, book return, costs and times of services. Final results reported on better circulation, inventory and cutting down on staff injuries (Singh, 2006).
RFID system has 3 parts:
1) Scanning Device (Reader):
Scanning antennas send radio waves on short distances that make RFID tags communicate through their microchips.
2) Scanning antennas
These antennas can be fixed or portable. Whenever RFID tags are moved through these antennas, they receive radio waves and become active. This make these tags to send out their saved information via their microchips to scanning antennas.
In fact antennas by sending and receiving these waves provide necessary information for identifying items.
Two types of tags are available:
Active tags that are sources of energy and can be scanned from remote distances. These tags are expensive and have shorter life.
Passive tags have smaller size and do not have energy sources, are cheaper and have long life, therefore are widely used by libraries, however they can not be scanned from remote distances.
RFID Appications in Libraies
1) Preservation of library items from theft.
Actually 3 types of theft detection systems are available:
1- Electromagnetic 2- Radio frequency (RF) 3- RFID
1. electromagnetic theft detection systems
Most theft detection systems that are installed all around the world, work based on magnetics. These system utilizing metallic security strips that needed to be desensitized- a separate action- during in normal check out in order for patrons to exit the library without setting off on alarm.
2. Radio frequency theft detection systems
These are similar to electromagnetic systems, however they work in a lower radio frequencies, special cards are used for deactivating tags by blocking radio waves. Security is the only benefit of this system.
This system makes use of radio frequency and microprocessors technology at the same time. Information on microchips inside tags are read by scanning device. Despite security, this system has the capability of tracking library materials too.
Whenever these intelligent tags not deactivate, security gates would set off an alarm.
2) Self- checkout and check- in stations
These user- friendly stations are employed by patrons for checking out or returning items at the library. Easy to understand instructions in any language are possible to assist or prompt the patron through the process.
These stations can be freestanding or counter- top, are adaptable to any existing from of patron membership card and can be customized to the library’s needs.
Return stations can be placed at a convenient location outside the library for after- hours operations. Printed receipts confirming an interaction may also be issued. Based upon the operation, These stations are also capable of activating or deactivating the security bit in the tags.
A checkout operation, for example would require that the bit be deactivated in order for the patron to leave the premises without triggering an alarm.
3) Tracking and identifying library items
By waving the RFID handheld reader along shelves inventory tasks can be done easier and much faster.
Portable reader has the ability to scan 10 to 20 items per second.
This will help scanning thousands of library items in less than a day. Missing or out of ordered items can also be found by waving portable reader along bookshelves.
4) Sorting stations.
In this system, librarians place books on sorting stations, and the system quickly distinguishes items and sorting them out.
During scanning, RFID tags get activated and books are moved into shelves. Librarians then can follow up instructions on sorting out books for different purposes such as reservation, checking out,…. This system has a strip for moving and detecting library items for sending them into their special places.
Such system has advantages as follow:
1) Decreasing staff efforts and time for sorting out books.
2) Easiness on finding books and sorting
5) management of library RFID stations
This station controls and manages all stations connected to library network..
circulation, checking out books, sorting items,...
Are all monitored by central RFID station.
6) Library staffs identification cards
These identification cards can detect presence and absence of staffs by RFID technology.
Whenever staffs enter the library, their cards activated and whenever they they go out they become deactivated. This process helps and administrators to have better control over staffs.
Advantages of RFID tags for libraries:
1) High speed in scanning items:
RFID reduces times of circulations and check out, since information in tags are read faster than traditional barcodes and stacks of items are scanned simultaneously (Library technology reports, 2003).
2) High authentication:
RFID tags are authentie. Most RFID vedors have mentioned high trust and efficiency and encouraged libraries to utilize this technology. An ordered RFID system would prevent library materials from theft and decrease errors for security gates and can track and identify patrons stolen library items from their membership cards ( Wadham, 2003).
3) Automatic sorting of library items:
Sorting and arranging library manual can be done by this system according to subjects and different categories and would reduce amount of time necessary for material sorting and shelving. Due to high costs and expensive equipments, this application is not widely used, however only 35 systems have been installed in the North America up to middle of 2003 (Library technology reports, 2003).
4) Long life of RFID tags
RFID tags have all long lives in comparison to barcodes.
Most RFID vendors have predicted one hundred thousand transactions for tags before wearing out.
Disadvantages of RFID tags:
High costs and vulnerabilities of RFID tags to metals as well as collision or overlapping two RFID tags are considered as main disadvantages of these tags.
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