Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the use of an object (typically referred to as an RFID tag) applied to or incorporated into a product for the purpose of identification and tracking using radio waves. While we can ask this question today, we may be facing RFID in our future regardless, especially if RFID becomes the successor technology to barcodes. What libraries don’t tell their users, and none of us should probably say very loudly, is that library RFID tag can be shielded by a thick layer of Mylar, a few sheets of aluminum foil, or even an aluminum gum wrapper, so they won’t be detected by the reading device. In addition, today’s RFID library tag are not hidden in the spine of the book, like security tape, but are often found on the inside of the book cover, barely concealed by a library label, and can be removed.
This is not a condemnation of the technology nor even a reason not to use it in the library security system; the reality is that library security has never provided more than a modicum of security for library items. The reason to use CXJ RFID library tag for security is not because it is especially good for it, but because it is no worse than other security technologies. The library saves some time in processing new items because it only has to affix one technology to the item. Laura Smart’s Library Journal article on RFID 14 lists fourteen areas of library operations where one might measure gains in time and materials costs.
Some future-positive thinkers in the library world see the potential to have a combined exit-gate/check-out station that allows patrons to walk about of the library with their books in hand and their library card in their pocket. The increase in circulation, which is often one of the few quantitative measures that libraries have to show that RFID has made their operations more efficient, has to be balanced against the cost of re-shelving more items.
On the other hand, the act of running patron cards and library items through a check-out station for hours at a time is mind-numbingly dull, and probably not the best use of staff time. Items with odd shapes and metal components, such as CDs and DVDs, are stretching the creativity of vendors of RFID systems for libraries. But discs with an extra thick metal layer can still block the reading of the tags. On the other hand, this does free staff to work primarily on tagging, which shortens the process.
Tiny RFID library tag can store detailed information about an item, which is then sent via radio waves to a reading device – either a handheld or fixed unit. The RFID technology is used for tracking the movement of goods in the retail industry, but it is making inroads in other areas, such as library management systems. During the past year, the library has tagged 50,000 of the 120,000 volumes in its public reading rooms.