RFID in Libraries

7/2/2004

ALA Round-up

Filed under: — Laura @ 2:17 pm

I’ve finally got my thoughts about ALA organized – and I have many. I’ll put them into the extended post to help those of you who prefer shorter summaries in your aggegregator. ALA was a whirlwind of information regarding RFID. It includes: new privacy guidelines from affiliated orgizations, the debut of encryption solutions, best implementation practices, and a few vendor pronouncements.

Links featured in this post:
BISG RFID info
My notes on the Tips & Trends session

My overall impression is that most vendors are nonplussed by the privacy issues while librarians remain split in their feelings. Where they stand seems to be related directly to their level of knowledge about the tags. The more they know, the more skeptical they are. This is just my opinion, so take it heavily salted. I didn’t talk to a controlled sample of librarians.

I’ve already given you the news about Library Automation Technology’s release of the encryption API. My other big discovery was learning that that Book Industry Study Group (BISG) has a draft of RFID privacy principles. I found a copy on one of the seats during the Monday 6/28 LITA session “Tips & Trends for Implementing RFID.” I’ll try to get my copy scanned so folks can see it (but excuse my scribbled notes on it). The draft is notable for its proactive stance on privacy. They state, “these guidelines represent the approach our industries and organizations will take to reduce the potential for misuse of personal information and to avoid the loss of trust of consumers and library users.” I think this is a healthy attitude. No matter if you believe the privacy risks are minimal – the point is to know your customers and address their concerns. Some of the more dismissive vendors could take the example.

When I returned to work one of my sources sent me a copy of a letter that the chair of the BISG New Technology committee sent to the San Francisco city & county Board of Supervisors (remember they are deliberating today about SFPL’s RFID plans). It says that BISG has teamed with ALA and NISO to convene a RFID privacy task force. This is really big news to me – I didn’t see any press releases from any of these organizations nor did I hear anything at ALA, although I notice that they have added a link to the BISG RFID resources on their fact sheet. I presume they announced it at the Sunday 6/27 “Tiny Trackers” session. BTW, I’m still searching for a summary or a link about that session.

Speaking of LITA sessions, here are my links from the Monday 6/28 “Tips & Trends for Implementing” program:

  • my notes
  • slides from session presenter Peter Murray (pending - watch this link)
  • handouts from session moderator Maurice York (also pending on the LITA Emerging Technologies Interest Group web site

I’ll let my notes provide the details. This was one of the most useful sessions I’ve ever attended at ALA. Best practices for implementation include: using temp staff rather than students for reconversion (less error), timing implementation for building renovation projects (helps with electrical wiring), monitoring software upgrades to the ILS (any change will affect your RFID interface), and getting your community involved in the process from the beginning. Innovations in the retail sector will benefit libraries. Most of all, watch the ISO tag standards – interoperability will be a possiblity in the future.

I wasn’t able to get to every vendor booth, but I was able to visit 3M, VTLS, Vernon, Checkpoint, Crisplant, ID Systems, & Sentech EAS.

3M has already done 9 installations of their new RFID only solution – this is pretty good considering they only announced it at PLA.

VTLS has several new contracts.

Vernon provided me with a demo of their inventory wand – this is the lightest one I’ve encountered and they swear by the years of ergonomic testing during development.

Checkpoint announced the latest release of ILS 2.0 (which I already mentioned in this forum).

Crisplant’s sorter has a sweet book truck attachement that allows you to take books to the shelf more easily.

Sentech EAS is just getting into the library market but they are not new to RFID having been in the manufacturing and distribution of electronic article survellience equipment for the past 14 years. They only supply tags at this point, not readers.

All in all, ALA left me saturated with new RFID knowledge. I’m looking forward to seeing what emerges from the best practices and privacy task forces.

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