6. Libraries from 2011

Self-service booking items in and out

Recently 'RFID' technology has been introduced to allow you to take out books, return then and pay for any overdue fees. All from one terminal.

RFID is a radio based electronic tagging technology. Any number of items can be scanned and

rfid device
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

identified at the same time - unlike the barcode which has to be individually scanned by a laser. The photo opposite shows a RFID device next to a grain of rice. They are tiny.

Replacing the tradition booking desk with a self-service terminal offers benefits to both the public and the library staff

  • Fast - public places all their books / items in the booth and they are all read in one go
  • Easy - public can follow instructions on a touch-screen to pay overdue fees or to keep items for another period
  • Easier Filing - if a book has been reserved, the system automatically detects this and asks the person to place that book in a 'reserve' shelf alongside the terminal - otherwise they place the books in a shelf on the other side. Less sorting out by the librarian
  • Added value - library staff can spend more time helping the public rather than the mundane task of booking items in and out.
  • Better reporting. The system allows staff to see which items are popular and which are not. Just like a normal shop, they can then decide which items to 'stock' and which to archive or sell on.

Every book still has a barcode inside as well as an RFID tag. Staff prepare a new book by attaching a tag and then scan it in a special scanner - the tag ID is then automatically linked in the database to the barcode.

We also have a more detailed introduction to RFID here

Challenge see if you can find out one extra fact on this topic that we haven't already told you

Click on this link: RFID technology