RFID in Libraries


Dilbert gets in on RFID

Filed under: — Laura @ 8:56 am

The 11/30 Dilbert strip mentions RFID. Can increasing consumer awareness be far behind??


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.


Archive of California Connected

Filed under: — Laura @ 10:30 am

The 5/6/2004 episode of California Connected is archived. You can view the video segment discussing RFID. Also included: a transcript of a web salon discussion and an interactive feature involving a “promiscous chip.” [scroll down to view]


Fall LJ netConnect on RFID

Filed under: — Laura @ 10:15 am

The fall 2004 Library Journal netConnect supplement is out. The focus this quarter is on RFID. Yours truly wrote a couple of articles. I’ll have another article coming out soon in College & Research Library News.

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!


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.


Another Senator calls for Fed regulation

Filed under: — Laura @ 8:55 am

Sonia Arrison writes a commentary for TechNewsWorld in which she discusses Senator Byron Dorgan’s (D-North Dakota) call for federal government to get involved with RFID development.

Arrison comes out against legislating the technology since “there is no current harm taking place as a result of RFID.”

I don’t think this is a very strong argument. Do you wait for a burglery before you lock your house up? Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel. I think industry proponents should be proactive in developing best practices if they don’t want legislators to intervene. The privacy issue is a political issue and politicians will make hay from it as protests like San Francisco’s continue.

I don’t know whether there should be intervention or not, but I’d like to see more developed arguments on both sides of the issue.


Chronicle gets wind of library RFID debate

Filed under: — Laura @ 10:54 am

I’m a bit sad that I was away and missed Scott Carlson’s call while he was writing this article for the Chronicle of Higher Education. He did leave a nice voice mail, however. Thanks Scott for thinking of this blog.

The best feature of this piece is the hard figures attached to ROI. Carlson writes:

The University of Nevada libraries found more than 500 lost items after officials tagged 600,000 items in its collection – which saved the library $40,000 in replacement costs. The library does inventories more frequently now. At the University of Connecticut, RFID tags have allowed the library to set up self-checkout stations. That has freed up staff members, whose salaries total about $120,000, for other tasks around the library.

Now I’m not entirely certain that staff salaries can be considered ROI. Unless staff was laid off you would have to pay those salaries anyway. The benefit here is not one of savings but opportunity-cost. By reassigning staff you have more opportunity to serve users. A study of user satisfaction or tracking of reference transactions might provide some quantification of the benefits. I’m not saying that the freeing up of staff isn’t a benefit. Surely it is. I only question where the ROI is being applied. Connecticut and UNLV are on the right track with their examination of benefits. I hope we see more publications from these institutions regarding it.


Salon.com article

Filed under: — Laura @ 4:08 pm

So. A week ago Salon.com published an article on RFID in Libraries (btw, you need to view an ad or have a subscription in order to read it).

Katherine Mieszkowski does a fairly balanced job or portraying the privacy debate. She says, “The (tag) numbers used aren’t interoperable between libraries now, but does that mean they will never be?”

If we ever hope to use the RFID tag during interlibrary loan they will be.

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