RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) which is a combination of radio-frequency-based technology and microchip technology is being hailed as one of the most important application inevery field nowadays including librarianship. RFID is a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify people or objects (Singh, Brar & Fong 2006). The idea of this technology is to enhance library security for all and sundry.
Even though RFID is relatively a new technology in libraries, the adoption of it has resulted in a solution that could make it possible to inventory hundreds of thousands of items in their collections in days instead of months. In addition, it allows patrons to check out and return library collection automatically at any time of the day. Besides speeding up checkouts, keeping collections in better order and alleviating repetitive strain injuries among librarians, RFID promises to provide better control on theft, non-returns and misfiling of a library’s assets.
How RFID System works in the Library
The RFID technology works through flexible, paper-thin RFID tags, which can be placed inside the cover of each and every document. Complete information about each document is entered into the Library Management Software like KOHA. Whenever a user brings a document for issue-return purpose, the RFID reader from the tag reads the information pertaining to that book and transmits the data into the software and document is issued in a few seconds without the assistance of the library staff. As the user takes the document outside the library, the antenna placed at the exit gate automatically reads the information contained on the RFID tag to verify whether the document is properly issued or not. In case, it is not issued to the user as per library norms or it is being stolen from the library, the antenna senses it and gives an instant alert. Thus, it results in a successful theft reduction of documents.
Equally, Narayanan, Sanjay & Somasekharan (2005) in their own classical thinking noted some advantages of RFID in libraries, which includes issuing multiple books at a time; simplified self-charging/discharging; reduction in queue at circulation desk /counter; more hours of circulation; saving time of the library staff while issue/return of document; allow library staff to provide other users’ centric service; reduction of staff at circulation desk; increased issue/return of library documents; security of library collection, etc. However, Skyline University Nigeria Library been the first International Private University in the Northern part of Nigeria implemented this current technology so as to go with the current trend of librarianship.
Librarians are always known as early adopters of technology and they have started using RFID to provide more effective and efficient library services as well as for the security of library collections. Although the use of RFID by libraries over the last few years has grown dramatically, yet the major barriers of RFID technology adoption by more libraries is its cost factor, non-availability of standards and user privacy. As far as the cost constraints are concerned, once the libraries implement such a technology, it's benefits can be realized in terms of "Return On Investments" as it will speed up the circulation process and the staff can perform other user-centric services. It is also very important to protect user privacy, libraries should follow standard guidelines and store no personal information on RFID tags. Whether the libraries are using RFID technology today or not, they cannot avoid it as nowadays the book distributors have started selling books which are already tagged without any extra cost.
Narayanan A., Sanjay Singh, & Somasekharan M. (2005). Implementing RFID in Library: Methodologies, Advantages and Disadvantages. Paper presented at the Conference on Recent Advances in Information Technology, IGCAR – Kalpakkam, July 14-15, Kalpakkam. Retrieved from http://www.igcar.gov.in/igc2004/sird/readit2005.pdf#page=282
Sandhu, G., & Ukwoma, S. (2012). Awaking Stock taking practice in academic libraries; The Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 12th annual conference on Nigerian Library Association @ 50: driving home the transformation agenda, Enugu, Nigeria. Retrieved from http://roar.u el.ac.uk/1771/1/Awaking%20Stocktaking%20practices.pdf
Singh, J., Brar, N., & Fong, C. (2006). The State of RFID Applications in Libraries. Information Technology and Libraries, 25(1), 24-32. doi: 10.6017/ital.v25i1.3326.
Vasishta, Seema (2009). Roadmap for RFID Implementation in Central library, PEC University of Technology. Paper presented in the International Conference on Academic Libraries, Delhi. Retrieved from http://eprints.rclis.org/17693/1/ical-49_196_414_1_RV.pdf
Mr. Kabiru Danladi Garba, CLN, is a Librarian at Skyline University Nigeria. He has an MSc in Library and Information Sciences from Bayero University Kano, Nigeria.
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