Libraries mostly have large amount of inventory which consist of books, CDs and other printed materials. RFID systems are most suitable for library management system. Currently old technologies like bar-codes are currently employed by most of the daily circulation activities.
RFID is the latest technology as compared to bar-code. That can store much more data inside and does not have to in line of sight to be read. It can even be embedded into object like book cover, or the cardboard. A library equipped with RFID technology can save a lot of time, money and energy to it’s staff and workers.
Why Asset tracking in libraries is different
The library is different from warehouses or retail stores in the sense that in warehouses the tags attached to the product are thrown away after the sales. But, the book and other library’s material are used for thousands of time or more. This makes the use of RFID different than other industries, because RFID tags are used for a very long time.
The working of RFID in libraries
Typically following book processing are carried out at the library:
- Check-in of items: When an item is returned back by the patron to the library, it must be confirmed by the library database, that the item is available for future check out. A receipt is also issued to the the patron, for confirming he/she have returned the item on given date.
- Check-out of items: If a patron borrow a library item, it must be confirmed by the library information system, that the item is being borrowed. The data of return can also be registered with the system.
- Prevent thefts: during the check-out and after the check-in of items, the security must be turned on to prevent the unnecessary theft of the library’s items. In the case of theft attempt, an alarm gets activated.
- Shelving returned items: first, the received items need to be sorted based on their shelf address for convenience and time saving. Then, these must be shelved to the predetermined address, so that a patron can find it for check-out.
- Inventory check and counting: In an conventional library information system, the items in the collection are being counted usually once a year, to determine any missing items. In old systems with the bar-code tags, are located inside of the books, this takes up lots of labor and time of staff.
- Inter-library loan service (ILL): Thorough this process, a user of one library can borrow books that are owned by other libraries
- Classification and cataloging new items: The new items added to library collection must be cataloged before placing them in library. It must be given a unique ID number and it must defined inside the library information system.
Putting returned items in shelves, check in and check out related tasks are done on a daily basis. Depending upon the size of collection of items and number of patrons, this work requires large amount of time.
Benefits of RFID Library systems
The costs are saved in terms of labor and theft/missing items. The time of patrons is also saved when using RFID systems in the library:
- Some libraries implemented self-check-in and self-check-out with installation of extra hardware. By putting this system into use, the library could provide twenty-four hour book circulation services to the patrons, and the staff is relieved of the routine repetitive tasks. This motivates the library staff to work for more user-oriented and value-added services.
- The RFID system also decrease the occurrences of theft and missing items. Installing RFID security gates will ensure nothing gets out without being registered with library information system. With the help of RFID technology, missing items, can be found easily. This provides some savings to the library.
- Savings by reduced waiting times. During busy periods of the libraries, patrons accumulate through the waiting lines, in front of the circulation desk.
With the RFID technology, not only the cost decreases with reduced theft and less human labor, it also gives flexibility to the patrons. Now the patrons can borrow the books anytime without the intervention of humans.