RFID in Libraries


SFPL downsizes plans

Filed under: — Laura @ 11:12 am

Library Journal reports that San Francisco Public Library administrators are reevalutating their implementation plans for RFID.

They are postponing implementation at one branch and combining implementation schedules for the main library and 6 other branches. The funding for RFID has still not been finalized but will be discussed at their Board of Supervisors meeting in late spring/early summer.

EFF continues opposition to RFID

Filed under: — Laura @ 11:11 am

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has updated its RFID information page providing links to recent developments in the library world and a report on the RFID panel at CLA.

Heads up to those of you in the vincinity of Berkeley, CA: The EFF is encouraging attendence at the Berkeley City Council meeting today and the Board of Library Trustees tomorrow so that community members may demand an investigation of a proposed restructuring plan and the budgetary implications of the RFID purchase. They provide a link to a flyer created by Berkeleyans Organizing for Library Defense.

BOLDs’ flyer is fairly extreme. In its unnuanced view of the implications of RFID it implies that RFID self-check machines will result in longer lines. It also ties the staff layoffs to the purchase of the technology – which has not been documented in any report I’ve seen. It’s entirely possible that the layoffs would have occured anyway given California’s current fiscal environment.
The language it uses (ex. “Director Griffen is sinking her talons into your civil liberties") is inflammatory. Jackie Griffen has a stellar reputation for upholding civil liberties in her work with the Intellectual Freedom Committee of the California Library Association.

I’m thinking some public education programs and discussion forums will be in Berkeley PL’s future.


SFPL saga continues

Filed under: — Laura @ 4:27 pm

San Francisco Public Library’s quest to install RFID is once again in the news. Local radio reports that the $300,000 plan to pilot RFID is currently on hold. The SF Board of Supervisors will revisit the issue in January.

All of the familiar players are quoted. Expect another contentious board meeting in the near future.


RFID RFP online

Filed under: — Laura @ 8:39 am

The Kent District Public Library has posted their RFP for RFID (scroll down past the fold).

Speaking of the RFP process, there is a new tool in the works which may make this task a bit easier for libraries. openrfp.com has an automatic RFP generator which is free to libraries. From their mission statement:

We do this by developing and maintaining a database of functional descriptors for library operations and technical processing, linking them to vendor product capabilities using a structured vocabulary. Libraries can examine vendor software capabilities against their specific needs.

The say they’re vendor neutral. OpenRFP makes its profit by taking a percentage of any signed contract. They currently don’t have many vendors participating, however. It’s one to watch as it may prove useful once it reaches critical mass.


More on the Sept. SF protest

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:12 am

Another article on the 9/19 protest held outside of the San Francisco public library. It provides more detail on what the city could do with the $300,000 it’s holding for the library’s RFID project while the library prepares its analysis. Once again, it’s not much news. It does provide a bit more perspective on the public relations issues that face SFPL.


Blurb on Warren Newport PL’s sorter

Filed under: — Laura @ 7:44 am

A wee comment about an Illionois library with an RFID sorter. They like it.


More protests in SF

Filed under: — Laura @ 8:21 am

The San Francisco Examiner reports that SF public library was the site of a protest over RFID last Sunday.


Kent District Lib Plans Raise Eyebrows

Filed under: — Laura @ 4:19 pm

More coverage of Kent District Library (MI) plans to purchase RFID. The Grand Rapids Press reports that some members of the library board are hesitant to spend cash on new tech when hours are being reduced and book budgets are shrinking.


Kent District Library considers RFID

Filed under: — Laura @ 8:33 am

The board of trustees for the Kent District Library in Michigan will be considering RFID at their next meeting. Library director Martha Smart (no relation) says they will be used to “hold the line” on staff costs. This is another good way of thinking about ROI – the number of staff you don’t have to hire.


Japanese library goes moblie

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:38 am

RFID in Japan writes that the patrons at the library at Roppoing Hills, Tokyo can use their cell phones to retrieve RFID tagged books.

It makes me think about Roy Tennent advocating that libraries start delivering content to handhelds. Based on my observation of undergraduates, I’d say he’s right, at least for academic libraries. Every kid coming through the door has a cell phone attached to his ear. I once even had one answer a call and walk away during a reference interview.

One of the biggest complaints at my library is that folks can’t locate materials on the shelf. What if their cell phone could provide them with a map, and when they get near the item their RFID enabled phone could indicate that they were within range?


Aussie NL releases RFID RFP

Filed under: — Laura @ 4:16 pm

The Australian National Library has issued a request for proposals to replace their current bar-code system and they would rather it be RFID. [Australian IT News]

Vendors out there – the RFP closes on August 13.

Not much new in the article but it does mention that the Australian Parliament Library uses RFID, as do the city libraries in Adelaide.


SFPL moves ahead with RFID

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:19 am

A contact at the San Francisco Public Library brought me up to date about last Friday’s County Board of Supervisor’s Budget Committee meeting. The library has the ok to continue pursuing RFID. The committee put SFPL’s $300,000 budget request on reserve for six months. While it is in escrow, the library is expected to work with outside organizations to develop at Request For Proposal which addresses all of the concerns.

There will be an official press release today.


SFPL New Privacy Policy

Filed under: — Laura @ 12:54 pm

I’m still editing my detailed notes from the session, “The Radio Frequency Revolution: Tips & Trends for Implementing RFID Systems in Libraries” but some of the information is time dependent so I’m posting it now. San Francisco Public Library chief Susan Hildreth gave an update on the status of RFID implementation in her library.

The SFPL Library Commission sent their proposed budget to the city mayor’s office. Gavin Newsome approved it and it went to the county board of supervisors. The county board reviewed it on June 19 and again on the 24th. According to Hildreth, out of the three board members, one is opposed, one is neutral and one is relatively supportive. The vote was tabled until July 2 – so stay tuned for updates tomorrow.

Hildreth says that SFPL will be spending $2.8 million over 8 years to implement RFID. $1.5 million will come from the operating budget and $3 million will come from private funds – I know this doesn’t add up, but that’s what I wrote down. Consider those figures ballpark.

I went to the SFPL website today and noticed that their revised privacy policy is posted and it does include RFID. They will limit information on tags to barcode number, they won’t use smart patron cards and they will comply with the law in regards to gathering information. They have also posted their RFID bibliography and their proposed plan of action in a more publically accessible place.

Of the controversy, Hildreth says she was surprised at the public’s lack of concern regarding the repetitive strain injuries suffered by library staff. She thought there would be more support for creating a safer workplace. She recommended that other libraries know their communities well prior to considering the technology.


Checkpoint gets NZ library contract

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:28 am

Botany Downs library in South Aukland becomes first library in New Zealand to use RFID. They choose Checkpoint as their vendor.


Japanese library gets RFID

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:22 am

A library in Yuki city is using RFID on their 100,000 item collection.

LAPL using RFID on media

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:16 am

Jack Stephens noticed that the Los Angeles Business Journal says LA Public Library has been using RFID at its media center for the past 2 years. BTW, it’s 3 bucks to view the article


SFPL Round-up

Filed under: — Laura @ 9:53 am

As promised, a listing of the articles and resources about SFPL’s decision.

The SFPL implementation plan is particularly good. They have an understanding of the tag hardware specifications and seem very aware of the security flaws inherent at the chip level. They plan to work with vendors to develop tag encryption and better communications protocols between RFID tags and readers. They even encourage the development of environmentally friendly tags. Go SFPL!

David Molnar is quoted in the American Libraries piece. David is a Berkeley doctoral student in electrical engineering. He specializes in library RFID architectures. He has presented at the SFPL Library Commission meetings and it’s obvious they have paid attention. He currently has a scholarly article under review which details the technical security flaws in library RFID architectures. I’ll post a citation & summary as soon as I can.

I’m glad SFPL will attempt to work with the industry to improve chip security. Although libraries don’t have the purchasing clout of a Wal-Mart, we do have an activist tradition and the general respect of the public for keeping their interests at heart. Implementation plans such as SFPL’s and Berkeley’s best practices are a good start. It won’t be long before national-level best standards are available. The PLA Office of Intellectual Freedom is currently working on such a reccomendation.


New Zealand Library going RFID

Filed under: — Laura @ 3:03 pm

Mankau Libraries is accepting bids from RFID vendors. [via LISnews and Stuff NZ]


Update on SFPL status

Filed under: — Laura @ 1:49 pm

David Dodd from SFPL tells me that, depite what they say in the Senate Committee, the SFPL Library has definately not made a decision regarding RFID> They will be meeting next week, Thursday, May 6, to discuss it again. Take note: SFPL has updated its draft privacy policy. The most recent version supercedes the draft scanned in by Eric Ipsen. I’ll post a link to the policy once it is approved.

I’ll be in the Bay area on business 5/6 & 5/7, so I’ll try to attend the hearing.

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