RFID for Library Management: A Game-Changer For Librarians
Radio-frequency identification, or RFID, is a technology that utilises electromagnetic fields for identifying and tracking objects. RFID systems are now being used in many facilities across different industries, such as retail, automotive, health, security, education, and more. Even libraries are starting to recognise the advantages of using RFID these days. This comes as no surprise since RFID library management is effortless and convenient.
An RFID library management system consists of books attached to RFID tags, an RFID reader, and computer software and network. The technology can be used to detect books or other media that have not been checked out. It can also be utilised in an automated materials handling and returns system.
Read on to learn why an RFID library management system is a game-changer for librarians.
How does RFID work in libraries?
RFID readers release signals that search for RFID tags. When an RFID tag comes within a range, it is hit and “awakened” by the signal, which allows the tag to respond to the type of information desired by the RFID reader. For instance, if a visitor is looking into a pile of books, every tag immediately responds with its specific item ID number, which is the same as what appears on the barcodes used by many libraries.
The RFID system conveys the ID number to the library management system that recovers the title, checks out the book, and produces a receipt. If the visitor returns the book, the RFID tag responds with the ID number, and the system will credit the user’s account. If there is an automated system for materials handling in the library, it will guide the book to the proper receptacle for reshelving.
On the other hand, RFID technology is also advantageous for a librarian who scans shelves for inventory. They can use the RFID reader to improve inventory management since the device illuminates and beeps when it discovers a misplaced or missing item. The reader also prevents someone from leaving the library with an item not checked out.
When a visitor leaves the library, the RFID tag will be asked by the reader if the item has been checked out. If it answers negatively, the reader will sound an alarm to remind the visitor to check the item out or return it. An alert may also be sent to library personnel, specifying the item that causes the alarm. RFID systems have numerous potential applications in libraries, and the range of a system is customised for every application in which it is utilised.
Major benefits of RFID in libraries
1. Faster check-in and check-out
A pile of RFID-tagged items can be read and checked out by a librarian or visitor simultaneously. Since the technology is so quick and easy to use, visitors are more willing to process their transactions without asking the library staff. Check-in is also a lot faster with RFID. If the RFID system is implemented with an automated materials handling and returns system, the library’s productivity increase will undoubtedly be significant.
2. Better shelf-management
An RFID system makes identifying and locating items on the shelves relatively easy for librarians. It consists of a base station and a portable scanner. The solution is intended to cover three primary requirements – searching for specific books required, inventory checking of the entire library stock, and searching for books that are misshelved.
3. Easier tracking of items
Librarians face the enormous challenge of tracking numerous resources. They hold thousands of unique items, which can be very difficult to track. With an excellent asset tracking system like RFID, those items can be located accurately so that librarians and users can find them quickly and easily. In adopting RFID, libraries usually gain an instant benefit from recovering misplaced items that have been thought to be lost.
4. Anti-theft detection
RFID library management systems typically have an anti-theft feature that utilises the same RFID tags implanted into the library items. Every lane of RFID gates can track items of approximately one meter and will alert the alarm system when an item that is not checked out or borrowed passes through it. This feature prevents visitors from bringing unborrowed items outside the library, eliminating the possibility of theft.
5. Increased staff attention
For many people, the increased interaction with the library’s personnel is the best advantage of RFID in libraries. When library staff spend less time on routine tasks, such as overseeing the shelves and conducting regular checks and updates on database information, they can pay more attention to human interactions and ultimately improve customer experience.
Overall, the principal reason why many libraries are now turning to RFID technology is to enhance the accuracy and speed of their shelving and circulation functions, thereby freeing and enabling library personnel to provide direct service to their visitors. The technology also helps protect the library’s collection and ensures the community gets the best value. While implementing RFID is an investment, it is often recouped within just a few years, with the benefits lasting for a long time.