Introduction

The advantage of radio frequency identification (RFID) over other self service technologies used in libraries is usually seen to be its ability to combine the functions of the barcode (as a unique item identifier) and the security tag (able to indicate that an item is being removed from the library without permission), but with the added advantage of not
needing line of sight. The customer-friendly self service that this combination of features makes possible is at the heart of the attraction of RFID for most libraries. Indeed the term ‘RFID’ has become a shorthand for self-service.

The contrasts between RFID as used in retail and RFID in the library
RFID and some suppliers came from the retail supply chain – a very different market to libraries . In the fast moving world of RFID solutions appear and disappear rapidly. New tag technologies appear all the time making old ones obsolete.In retail such rapid change is welcomed. In a market where the priorities are speed of supply, greater accuracy and better margins data standards are practically non-existent and tags – and tag data – change almost as fast as the applications that use them. These solutions are not designed to be used by anyone else, Asda don’t share their RFID warehousing solutions with Tesco. So the solutions are “closed loop” – i.e. they are designed to work in a closed environment to perform a particular task. In the library world RFID tag remain in item for years and may outlast the equipment originally purchased to read them

Guide to RFID in libraries

A Librarian’s Guide to RFID Procurement. by Mick Fortune BIC & NAG (rev) 2016
"The document is in four parts.
Part One offers a sample template for the buyer to set out the scope of the project, explain how it fits within the existing ICT infrastructure, detail any future requirements that may need to be considered, give a detailed description of the existing library service and provide any additional information that will assist the supplier in making their best offer. Specific details relating to aspects of the procurement may either be included in this section or at the head of the relevant section in the main text of the specification.
Part Two sets out the key areas of concern that should be addressed by a potential supplier. It covers both the broader aspects of credibility, experience and durability one should expect from any supplier as well as specific points relating to RFID deliverables. Each section is introduced bya brief explanation of its importance and relevance followed by guidance for the librarian in providing relevant information to the supplier that should ensure mutual understanding. Finally a list of sample questions –that may need to be amended to reflect your particular circumstances –is offered for you to begin drafting your requirement.
Part Three offers an sample template for suppliers to submit costs.
Part Four offers a simple model for evaluating supplier responses."

Discussion List

RFID listserve (LIB-RFID-UK)

Library RFID website

Renamed the "Changing Libraries" web site : Mick Fortune offers advice and support to librarians and the library industry.

Book Industry Communications (BIC)

BIC support a number of RFID related initiatives and publications:-

LCF: LIBRARY COMMUNICATIONS FRAMEWORK

Published 10th January 2014
"The Library Communications Framework (LCF) is a set of library interoperability standards which defines a framework for the communication of data between self-service and other library terminal applications to and from library management systems.
This LCF standard is recommended by BIC as the best way to implement communications between systems within a library, for example between a Library Management System (LMS/ILS) and an RFID Self-Service Solution. There are various communication standards in use in the market in the UK and elsewhere including versions of SIP (Standard Interface Protocol). LCF supports the functionality in these standards but is also a framework seeking to enable systems developers to use and develop a common set of principles, variables and values to enable other standards to be developed."

RFID Privacy in Libraries

What Librarians (Public & Academic), Library Suppliers and Library Systems Vendors Need to Know BIC (Date?)
"Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) in libraries involves the tagging of library books with RFID tags and the use of self-services kiosks and other technologies to enable library customers to self-issue and self-return library books. The EU has issued two mandates for member states to encourage them to adopt measures to limit the risk to privacy from the use of RFID-tagged items. The risk has been identified as:
  • identification of the citizen's identity, lifestyle or affiliations, e.g. their sexual orientation or membership of a trades union
  • the ability to track the citizen's movements e.g. across a city
Libraries are identified as high risk within this analysis because unlike retail RFID tags which are switched off during purchase, RFID tags on library books are always available to be read so that, on their return to the library, the tags can be read as part of a self-return process"

RFID Vendors

RFID providers in the UK

Who uses what RFID system

Details from the "who uses what system" page of this (HELibTech) website-very incomplete (Jan 2018)

RFID Survey

Mick Fortune published annual survey up to 2016
2016 Library RFID Survey Results – UK
21. November 2016

RFID specification

'Tendering for RFID Systems: a core specification for libraries.' By Mark Hughes & Mick Fortune. June 2011

Case studies

Harrogate College: RFID in the library. An Excellence Gateway case study. (No Date 2010?) This case study was produced by JISC RSC (Regional Support Centres) Yorkshire & Humber on behalf of the Excellence Gateway.

'A Successful Conversion' 2CQR Case study (Lincoln University April 2012
'As part of an update of facilities and services the library management team at the University of Lincoln had proposed an upgrade of the stock management system and improved student interface with the assets.The existing EM system was close to the end of its life and the management team had been evaluating the benefits other universities had received from enhanced stock control using RFID.

IFLA special interest group


The IFLA IT Section has established an RFID working group. The role of this working group will be to review, discuss and publicise developments in RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) for Libraries. This includes:
  • Standards
  • Technological developments
  • Issues of privacy and confidentiality
  • Conference sessions in the annual IFLA congress to promote RFID discussion.
  • Application of RFID in libraries.

SIG web site

Further publications on RFID


'Guidelines for the use of RFID in libraries' By Mick Fortune. MLA. May 2010

'Learning from the Past, Looking to the Future RFID in UK Libraries'.' By Mick Fortune. Library RFID Limited. IFLA 2011
Good up to date summary covering important current issues about standards and interoperability. From the presentation:
The UK Market.
  • 97.8% of UK RFID installations buy their entire RFID solution from a single supplier*
  • There is (almost) no competition once an RFID supplier is chosen
  • New products are available –but being proprietary –cannot be used everywhere
  • Most RFID companies are committed to change this scenario –but most librarians aren’t.
Source: Annual RFID survey -run by Mick Fortune (the author)

RFID: Frequency, standards, adoption and innovation. By Matt Ward, Rob van Kranenburg & Gaynor Backhouse
JISC Technology and Standards Watch. May 2006
'This report gives an overview to RFID technology, whilst outlining the current and future uses of the technology within further and higher education. RFID acts as a technology that enables open, mobile learning experiences. RFID technology has been at the centre on much technological hype. The fragmentation of the industry has seen the proliferation of many different technologies and standards. The collection, organisation and dissemination of this vast array of information was a key part of the report, however, the real value of the work lies in the insights and ideas it gives around new applications and uses of RFID'.

'Making the most of RFID' By Martin Palmer. Facet 2009
Price: £44.95 (£35.96 to CILIP members):
ISBN: 978-1-85604-634-3
'…it is THE book to read if you want to inform yourself about the technology…highly recommended for all levels of library and information personnel and for library students and faculty alike…this is a compulsory read and a book I would strongly recommend.' LIBRARY MANAGEMENT