RFID in Libraries


CA RFID survey results released

Filed under: — Laura @ 11:20 am

Lori Ayre of Infopeople has released the results from the survey she conducted on behalf of the Information Technology section of the California Library Association.

Interestingly, respondents who used RFID do so for security purposes rather than inventory. IMHO, the inventory benefits are much greater. Security is no better or worse than current magnetic-based systems. Price was the biggest concern of those librarians not considering RFID. Privacy concerns ranked the lowest, which is a bit dissapointing, but keep in mind that most librarians still don’t know enough about RFID in general to even know what threats to privacy issues are posed.


KDL update

Filed under: — Laura @ 4:38 pm

Kent District PL in MI got their funding approved for RFID. Libraryrfid.net has been following them since last August. They put their RFP out on their website when they went out to bid this past October, which was a great model for other librarians to adopt. The RFP is no longer up, unfortunately.


Tagsys announces new tag

Filed under: — Laura @ 8:35 am

Straight from RFID Journal:

RFID hardware supplier Tagsys has announced the release of its FOLIO 320 tag, designed for use with library applications for theft prevention, inventory control, the check-in/check-out of library materials and sorting returned items. The tag has a 256-bit memory capacity and comes with an adhesive backing for insertion inside books or onto other library items such as CDs. The FOLIO 320 meets ISO/IER DTR 18047-3, the conformance test for the ISO 18000-3 interoperability standard. Tagsys, which has its U.S. headquarters in Doylestown, Pa., recommends the use of its tags and readers with a data management system that fully complies with American Library Association and National Information Standards Organization recommendations for assuring patron privacy. The FOLIO 320 tag is available immediately; pricing information was not released.

Note the mention of the ALA privacy guidelines.


Checkpoint CD/DVD tag

Filed under: — Laura @ 3:53 pm

Checkpoint has announced a “one-case” CD/DVD circulation solution which is compatible with RFID. It’s a case-based answer, unlike Bibliotecha’s approach of using a tag on the media itself. Case unlocking units make it possible for patrons to self-check and for staff to easily re-secure returned items. They will even offer cases with the RFID tags embedded, saving additional labor.

Checkpoint’s press release & product information.


C&RL article is out

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:59 am

My article, “Considering RFID: Benefits, limitations and best practices” has been published in the January College & Research Library News. Only ALA members will be able to use the link.



Filed under: — Laura @ 9:25 am

I’ll be speaking on RFID at the California Library Association conference on 11/13 as part of the Intellectual Freedcom Committee’s Issue’s and Updates panel at 2:15 PM .

Other programs on RFID:

11/13 3:45 PM. Understanding RFID: The Vendors Address the Tough Questions. This panel is moderated by Lori Bowen Ayre. Remember her? The vendors on the panel:
Oleg Boyarsky, Library Automation Technologies
Daniel Denault, VTLS
Emmet Erwin, Bibliotheca
Chris Harris,Vernon Library Systems
Douglas Karp, Checkpoint Systems
Frank Mussche, Libramation
Art Leoncio, 3M

I know I want to hear them talk about standards, standards, standards. Oh. And why there haven’t been many security/privacy solutions proposed or much uptake on the encryption API released by Library Automation Technologies. As Eric Ipsen, their Director of Business Development, is fond of telling me, there has been a lot of press on the issues with RFID but not a lot of focus on emerging solutions, I suspect the solutions will get more coverage once they are more widely implemented. Right now, there are still people who don’t believe the risks exist or, if they do, that they are not substantial.

11/15 9:00 AM. RFID Policy & Planning Lessons: Three Libraries Share Their Experiences in Planning for New Technology.

Folks from San Francisco Public, Berekely Public and Fresno County Public will be there. Should be good.


More articles & BISG/ALA best practices

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:05 am

CNET weighs in on library RFID. It’s mostly the same old, same old. Of note: they mention the BISG and ALA RFID best practices, saying they have been released. I hadn’t yet seen this anywhere, although I did mention it in my 7/2/2004 post with a promise to scan and post my print copy. I didn’t do it. I’m horrible. A thousand lashes with a wet noodle for me.

I did a bit of poking around on the BISG site and found a ccompleted draft had been posted. On August 18. I wonder why ALA hasn’t made any big noises about it. It may have been announced on their Intellectual Freedom email list, but I’m not a subscriber (soon to be rectified, you can be assured dear reader). It hasn’t been mentioned on the Office of Intellectual Freedom’s RFID page nor has it garnered a link on the ALA RFID Fact Sheet. Perhaps we’ll hear something when the guidelines are ratified.

The other noteworthy part of the CNET article is the goals attributed to Vinod Chachra of VTLS

The real shakeup could come many years from now, when RFID completely transforms the way libraries operate, if you buy into Chachra’s grand plan. He envisions a day when libraries completely do away with the time-tested Dewey Decimal classification system, opting instead for a sort of organized chaos governed by the vigilant and unblinking eye of RFID.

Never going to happen. Somebody please explain the priciples of serendipity and collocation to this man!

RFID Survey

Filed under: — Laura @ 8:26 am

The Packaging Program and Robert E. Kennedy Library at Cal Poly State
University, San Luis Obispo, California, cooperatively developed an
online survey designed to collect information with regards to the
implementation of RFID systems in libraries. This survey is aimed to
draw information with regards to the performance of such systems
already in place and expectations from those being planned. For the
success of this survey, we would like to get as many libraries to
respond as possible. The survey is located at
http://www.zoomerang.com/survey.zgi?p=WEB223U6TM8Z7D . You are
qualified to partake in this survey if you have been or are involved
with any aspect of the RFID based technology at your library.

Please follow the above link and take the survey. A copy of the survey

results will be sent to all participating libraries, RFID listserv, and

LITA-L listserv. For any questions, comments or concerns relating to
this survey or topic, please contact Dr. Jay Singh, Assistant
Professor, at jasingh@calpoly.edu.



RFID Journal weighs in on NBD|Biblion tagging

Filed under: — Laura @ 1:34 pm

RFID Journal has a detailed article about the Dutch publisher NBD|Biblion’s decision to tag every book it produces.

Note how they are supplied by two vendors. Redundancy to ensure interoperability.

The article also mentions two tag manufacturers that I wasn’t familiar with: UPM Rafsec and Smartag.

It also mentions the Dutch Library Association’s set of Generic Set of Requirements RFID for Public Libraries, now known as International Generic Set of RFID Requirements for Libraries.

I’m familiar with this requirements document. I even thought I posted it on the original incarnation of this blog. It seems like that post is M.I.A., however.

It’s just as well. The requirements were last updated on August 17 – so now you have a link to the most recent information.

EPC Global Consumer Info Page

Filed under: — Laura @ 10:43 am

The title says it all. EPC Global, the Uniform Code Council body working on standards and adoption of RFID, has a new consumer information page.

Bear in mind their bias towards widespread RFID acceptance.


RFID-IP Conference

Filed under: — Laura @ 4:22 pm

An interesting looking conference on intellectual property and RFID is coming up in October. [thanks Mary]


Infopeople surveying CA librarians

Filed under: — Laura @ 2:58 pm

Infopeople and the California Library Association are surveying California librarians about RFID use.


One to watch - possible patent infringement on tags

Filed under: — Laura @ 12:23 pm

Intermec Technologies is suing tag manufacturer Matrics over patent infringement according to this article from Line56.com.

If the suit is successful, then this could drive up the price of tags.


Official SFPL PR

Filed under: — Laura @ 10:34 am

The SFPL press release on RFID is available in the extended post.

Slides up from ALA presentation

Filed under: — Laura @ 8:53 am

Peter Murray’s slides from the ALA Tips & Trends presentatation are up – thanks Peter!


Minor update

Filed under: — Laura @ 3:53 pm

The BISG draft guidelines were indeed distributed at the Sunday “Tiny Trackers” session.


Update to draft article

Filed under: — Laura @ 5:01 pm

I’ve made some minor revisions to the draft article on Library RFID. Thank you to all of the folks who commented – it really was a great help and your suggestions made the article better.


Another draft article for comment

Filed under: — Laura @ 3:05 pm

I’ve just completed a draft of an article which I hope to submit to an academic librarian publication. It explains the pros and cons of RFID technology (with a big tip of the hand to David Molnar for bringing me up-to-speed on the technical cons) and the current state of library best practices.

Comments, criticisms, etc. gratefully accepted via email to ljsmart at csupomona dot edu. It’s quite a struggle to explain this issue succinctly and I’m not quite sure I’ve succeeded. Running the draft by a few eyes can only help.


RFID @ JCDL keynote

Filed under: — Laura @ 1:53 pm

Apparently Vint Cerf talked about RFID during the keynote speech at the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries. [thanks digital librarian]


Outside the Supply Chain

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:38 am

I wrote “Outside the Supply Chain” for RFID News.

Some of the nuances of my original piece were lost in the editing process. For example, it’s not clear in the paragraph regarding infringement scenarios and unauthorized data gathering that automated library systems (ALS) do not have the ability to track patrons movements. It’s the RFID readers that can potentially do the tracking. ALS only keeps patron contact info and borrowing habits. The borrowing info is rarely retained. I’ve put that section as I originally wrote it in the extended section of this post. If anybody wants to see the whole unedited piece, let me know and I’ll email you a copy.

RFID News is moving to a subscription model, but for a limited time you can subscribe for free. Act now if you’re interested.


ALA Posts RFID bibliography

Filed under: — Laura @ 5:40 pm

I didn’t notice this when it was posted in March, but ALA has a fact sheet on RFID that outlines the history of articles in the library literature. It’s pretty consistent with my as-yet-unposted personal bibliography of RFID articles (see the blog to-do list). I don’t know of any article in the librarian journals that ALA missed.


SFPL Approves RFID

Filed under: — Laura @ 1:54 pm

Everybody has probably heard this already, but, the SFPL Library Commission approved going forward with plans for RFID at their meeting last night. I’m sorry I’m late posting the information. I’ve touring a RFID installation at Oakland Public Library. I’ll post a roundup of articles discussing the SFPL decision after I return to Los Angeles.


California Connected Salon on RFID

Filed under: — Laura @ 12:18 pm

The online bulletin board for the California Connected episode on RFID is up and running. See Discussions :: CaliforniaConnected - RFID: Privacy vs. Efficiency.


Details from the SFPL Commission meeting

Filed under: — Laura @ 5:21 pm

Independent consultant Eric Ipsen scanned in the minutes and handouts from the 3/4/04 meeting of the San Francisco Public Library Commission. BTW, I kept refering to them as the Library board in my previous posts. I stand corrected.

Many thanks to Eric! The handouts include some great information, including the Berkeley PL best practices policies, a description of SFPL’s anticipated operational benefits, a nice page on repetitive stress injuries, and some general pricing info. I haven’t yet read them in detail, but will post my comments (if any) when I take a closer look. And yes, I’m also still working on the generic reqs from the Netherlands. I do have a job and a family life…

The minutes package.
The policy docs.

And the winner is….

Filed under: — Laura @ 3:35 pm

Cal Poly has decided to postpone its decision on which RFID solution to take. Our dean has charged us with gathering some more details. This means a rapid road-trip. I suspect it also means we won’t be announcing anything until after ALA annual. Sorry to dissapoint, but better safe than sorry when you’re going to be spending this kind of cash.

RFID on California Connected

Filed under: — Laura @ 10:45 am

California folks may want to tune into this week’s episode of California Connected. A colleague tells me that they will be discussing RFID tonight. I haven’t been able to confirm since their web site doesn’t list upcoming shows. They do, however, have online forums for ongoing discussion about issues they raise on the show and great links to additional information. Should they air something about RFID this evening, I suspect it will be worthwhile.

Self check impact on lib staff

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:25 am

While this article from the Birmingham News about self-check kiosks refers to barcode based systems rather than RFID. It does, however, raise the issue of job loss for library physical services staff. The Homewood Public Library is only getting 2% of their check-outs done via self-check – a dismally low figure. One southern Califonia library I visited is getting 62% of their checkouts via their RFID self-check (and their circulation is 1 million/year and growing). The only reason it is not higher is because they continue to process all media at the circ desk.

Vendors typically tout the reassignment of staff to other public service functions as an advantage. A library can provice more public service. But what assurances can a library staffer get (especially during this economic downturn) that their jobs won’t simply be eliminated?

Something to ponder. [via Eric, and via LISnews]


Tools for creating RFID RFP

Filed under: — Laura @ 5:10 pm

The Netherlands Association of Public Libraries has created a set of generic RFID requirements for public libraries. I found this while snooping through my referrer log. I haven’t had time yet to read it, but will post my thoughts/comments once I get caught up.


New email list

Filed under: — Laura @ 1:21 pm

Margaret Hazel from the Eugene OR public library has established an email list for discussing RFID in Libraries. Thanks Margaret! (and yes, I am a subscriber)

The list is called RFID_LIB. It is hosted by the library school at SJSU.

Send an e-mail message to the list software, which in San Jose’s case is
called, listproc.

To: listproc@listproc.sjsu.edu

Ignore the Cc, attachment, and Subject lines.

In the body, type subscribe RFID_LIB Firstname Lastname (where firstname is
your first name and lastname is your Lastname.) Do not include anything else
in the message. This is an automated command that the listproc software at
the other end recognizes

Caveats on docs

Filed under: — Laura @ 11:26 am

I would like to add some more information about handouts I mentioned yesterday. The questions our library developed do not contain many references to privacy issues. This is because our understanding of the controversy is evolving. Those documents are a snapshot in time. When we wrote them, we were of the understanding that violations of privacy within the library setting were unlikely. This was due to the limited range of RFID tag readers, the lack of links between tags and patron records, and the rarity of encountering tag readers outside of the library setting. We feel a bit differently now.

Anybody who uses these documents should add questions regarding privacy issues.


CARL Poster Handouts

Filed under: — Laura @ 5:23 pm

I’m presenting a poster “Rifling through RFID” this weekend at the California Academic & Research Librarians conference. If you’re attending CARL, be sure to pop by and say hello.

Abstract: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has been in the news as a possible threat to patron privacy a key philosophical foundation of librarianship. This poster provides a brief introduction to RFID tags and their advantages and disadvantages for libraries. Cal Poly Pomona University Library is currently reviewing the technology and has come up with a list of questions to ask RFID vendors and an evaluation checklist for reviewing implementations at other libraries.

The handouts available on my work web site. All the credit goes to the Cal Poly Pomona RFID team – they created the questions and evaluation checksheet.


Librarian speakers @ Computer Privacy Conference

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:45 am

Beth Givens (former librarian) head of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and Jackie Griffin from the Berkeley Public Library will be speaking on “RFID and Privacy” at CFP 2004 / Computer Freedom & Privacy Conference.

It’s in Berkeley on April 20-23, so local folks may want to check it out (although only students may be able to afford it).


MS Forms RFID Council

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:30 am

E-Commerce News: Wireless: Microsoft Forms RFID Council. [thanks Beth for the pointer].


Blog fine-tuning

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:24 am

I’ve had reports that the left hand column isn’t appearing for some folks - can anybody experiencing this who has not yet reported it to me please let me know?


ROI - Singapore

Filed under: — Laura @ 4:48 pm

Are we ready for radio? - ManagementFocus - theage.com.au
discusses some of the ROI that Singapore Public Library has reaped

I quote:

Libraries increase lending capacity Singapore’s island-wide network of 23 public libraries is a good example of item-level tagging in a semi-retail environment. All 10 million books and CDs in the libraries have been tagged.

The borrower drops returned items into an RFID-reader book chute. The previous system required people to queue up for up to an hour at peak times. “We can do a stock-take of 100,000 items in just four hours now,” says Wong Tack Wai, senior manager of service innovation and development at Singapore’s National Library Board. “Previously, we had to close the library for a week.”

Singapore’s public libraries have drastically increased their lending capacity as a result of using RFID. In financial 2003, the board projects that it will make 31.7 million loans and handle 31.5 million customers. In 1997, before the system was implemented, the libraries handled some 22 million loans and 12.8 million customers.

It’s not quite a hard dollars & cents justification, but at least if provides some figures.

Color Change

Filed under: — Laura @ 3:56 pm

Based on user feedback, I’ve decided to update the colors on the blog. Thanks to Beth @ privacyrights.org for the feedback. And a big warm welcome to folks linking in from there.

Do please let me know if the new look doesn’t work for you. I can keep futzing with it.


Donut tags may impede CD/DVD

Filed under: — Laura @ 10:11 am

Bagel belly reports that an RFID tag on a CD (borrowed from the East Anglia University CD library) broke the combo drive on his Mac.


Library Journal - SFPL Vote on RFID May Come April 1

Filed under: — Laura @ 10:52 am

Library Journal - SFPL Vote on RFID May Come April 1 Thanks to cj for the pointer. Looks like SFPL is working on a costs/benefits analysis. Better late than never.


Yahoo! News - No RFID for Library Books

Filed under: — Laura @ 5:19 pm

Yahoo! News - No RFID for Library Books. Thanks technobiblio for the pointer to this story by Cameron Sturdevant of eWeek.

Looks like the controversy will continue to dog SFPL.

Hello RFID Weblog

Filed under: — Laura @ 5:17 pm

I’ve been discovered by The RFID Weblog. Welcome to its readers and thanks to Anita for the reference. I’ve added her to my blogroll.

LITA Posts RFID in Midwinter Top Tech Trends

Filed under: — Laura @ 5:17 pm

I notice that LITA has finally included links to RFID material in its report on Midwinter’s Top Tech Trends. It wasn’t there last time I checked.

RFID at the Cons

Filed under: — Laura @ 5:16 pm

RFID is starting to enter “critical mass” stage. Sessions at library conferences are attracting participants. According to Eric Ipsen, writing for RFID Journal, about 375 people attended a session at the recent PLA conference in Seattle. And just yesterday I was reviewing the preliminary program for ALA Orlando and saw a couple of sessions listed.

The Intellectual Freedom Round Table is offering “Tiny Trackers: The Use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technonlogy by Libraries and Booksellers” on Sunday 1:30pm

LITA is offering “The Radio Frequency Revolution: Tips and Trends for Implementing RFID Systems in Libraries” on Monday 8:30am

Filed under: — Laura @ 5:10 pm

We’re considering RFID technology for my library. I haven’t seen a blog specific to RFID and libraries yet, so I’m jumping into the fray.

We’re still in the midst of the evaluation process so I’m neck-deep in notes. I should write up the questions that our review team created for systematically appraising the vendors. I think it would make a good newsletter article. I believe we’re at the cusp of a new library automation trend – although the current budget situation may make it difficult for many libraries to seriously consider the technology yet.

Changing Hosts

Filed under: — Laura @ 3:35 pm

I’ve decided to switch hosts for RFID in Libraries. I think TypePad will provide more useful features. I will be working to import past links and entries over the next few days.

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