An RFID system consists of a tag, which is made up of a microchip with an antenna; and,
An interrogator or reader with an antenna.
The reader decodes the data encoded in the tag's integrated circuit and the information is passed to the host computer for processing and/or storage.
Are there any health risks associated with RFID and radio waves?
The waves coming from readers are no more dangerous than the waves coming to your car radio.
Why is RFID better than using bar codes?
The big difference between the two is bar codes are line-of-sight technology.
Radio frequency identification, by contrast, doesn’t require line of sight. RFID tags can be read as long as they are within range of a reader.
I could tell how often you have come in the library, what times of day, what you did while you were there, what books you checked out – and you wouldn’t even know you were being scanned. Combined with other sources of information, this might be a good thing like a Reader’s Advisory service – suggesting other titles you might like. But, in the hands of unscrupulous people, you can see how damaging this kind of information might be.
Will RFID replace bar codes?
Probably not. Bar codes are inexpensive and effective for certain tasks. It is likely that RFID and bar codes will coexist for many years.
Is RFID new?
RFID is a proven technology that's been around since at least the 1970s.
If RFID has been around so long and is so great, why aren’t we all using it?
It’s a closed-loop system
It’s proprietary – Company B can’t read tags put on by Company A unless they both use the same RFID system from the same vendor.
Many of the benefits of tracking items come from tracking them as they move from one company to another and even one country to another.
Is cost a problem?
RFID readers typically cost $1,000 or more.
Companies would need thousands of readers to cover all their factories, warehouses and stores.
RFID tags are also fairly expensive – 20 cents or more – which makes them impractical for identifying millions of items that cost only a few dollars.
Library RFID tags run in the neighborhood of $.75 per tag.)
low-, high-, and ultra-high frequencies?
RFID tags and readers have to be tuned to the same frequency to communicate.
Generally the most common are low- (around 125 KHz), high- (13.56 MHz) and ultra-high frequency, or UHF (850-900 MHz).
Low-frequency tags are cheaper than ultra high frequency (UHF) tags, use less power and are better able to penetrate non-metallic substances.
Library tags are in the high frequency range
Passive vs. Active tags?
Active RFID tags have a battery, which is used to run the microchip's circuitry and to broadcast a signal to a reader.
Passive tags do not have a battery.
Passive tag read range isn't as far -- typically less than 20 feet vs. 100 feet or more for active tags.
How much information can the tag store?
Typically a tag would carry no more than 2KB of data – enough to store some basic information, like a bib record.
read-only and read-write tags
With read-write chips, you can add information to the tag or write over existing information when the tag is within range of a reader, or interrogator.
Library tags are read-write – the information can be changed.
What is reader collision?
The signal from one reader can interfere with the signal from another where coverage overlaps.
Locate the readers far enough apart so the signal doesn’t overlap.
What is tag collision?
Tag collision occurs when more than one chip reflects back a signal at the same time, confusing the reader.
Since they can be read in milliseconds, it appears that all the tags are being read simultaneously.
Different vendors have developed different systems for having the tags respond to the reader one at a time.
What is the read range for a typical RFID tag?
low-frequency tags are read from a foot or less.
High frequency tags are read from about three feet.
UHF tags are read from 10 to 20 feet.
Active tags use batteries to boost read ranges to 300 feet or more.
Who are the leading RFID vendors?
For Library purposes the two big ones are 3M and Checkpoint
Although there are many different vendors with different areas of expertise.
Go to the vendor section of RFID Journal
Thousands of companies are using RFID technology
American Library Association. Office of Intellectual Freedom RFID Issues Web Page http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/ifissues/rfid.htm RFID Discussion List: RFID_LIB Send email to To: firstname.lastname@example.org In the body, type subscribe RFID_LIB Firstname Lastname
Library Law Blog http://blog.librarylaw.com/librarylaw/2004/08 bless_you_lori.html Position Paper: RFID in Libraries. By Lori Bowen Ayre. August 19, 2004 http://galecia.com/included/docs/position_rifid_ permission.pdf
8 Ways Libraries Use RFID
1. Conversion station – Where library data is written to the tags
2. Staff workstation at circulation – Used to check-in and check-out materials
3. Patron self check-out station – Used to check-out books without staff assistance
4. Exit sensors – Verify that all books leaving the library have been checked out
5. Patron self check-in station – Used to check in books without staff assistance
6. Bookdrop reader – Checks in books when patrons drop them in the bookdrop
7. Sorter – Automated system for returning books to proper area of library
8. Portable reader – Hand-held reader for inventorying and verifying that items are shelved correctly.
Tags are unique down to the copy level
Rather than purchasing additional tags for security, a single tag can be used for identifying items and securing them
Self-check systems have become very popular with both patrons and staff.
Inventory-related tasks can be done in a fraction of the time
Sorting can be accomplished automatically
Roughly it will cost about $1.70 per item to implement a system, although costs are coming down.
Berkeley Public Library
Best Practices for RFID Technology
• Library information on the tag should be limited to the barcode.
• Patrons should not have the ability to search the catalog by barcode.
• Do not utilize wireless connections to communicate between security gates, self-checks or other RFID-reading devices and the ILS database unless more security is incorporated in these communications.
• The implementation of an RFID system only reinforces the current library duty to make sure their ILS database is as secure from unauthorized entry as possible.
• Do not implement smart-card RFID patron library cards.
• Inform patrons that your library utilizes RFID technology.
1) I wanted a theft detection system that was a one-step circulation process
2) Cut the amount of materials loss
3) Marry the circulation and theft detection processes
4) Greater use of circ staff – you can check out multiple books at the same time