RFID in Libraries


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]


  1. Maybe libraries would prefer to spend their money elsewhere–books, reference, etc?

    Comment by K.G. Schneider — 4/29/2004 @ 11:42 am

  2. Although I am a bit biased towards self-checkout systems, the issue of staff effects shouldn’t be ignored. True, the initial thrust of any automation is personnel reduction/replacement/elimination. But, if that is the only reason for installing self-checkout, or any type of automation, then whoever decided this hasn’t done due dilligence. The true purpose of automation is to provide enhanced service (be able to do more), better experience, faster response, less theft …etc. not to directly reduce staff.. Often, libraries take a passive role to self-checkout, thinking that once they install, patrons will automatically be drawn to it…not so. Libraries must actively promote and encourage any kind of radical change of this nature..my 2 cents :)

    Comment by Oleg Boyarsky — 5/21/2004 @ 6:06 pm

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