RFID and Libraries
ALA Library Fact Sheet Number 25
What is RFID? RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification.
As explained on the Frequently Asked Questions page of the web site for the RFID Journal , Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, is “a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify individual items.” RFID has been evolving into a more effective, convenient, and cost-efficient technology since World War II. American companies, especially those in the automotive, packaging and handling, and retail industries, began to integrate RFID technology into the structure of their businesses in the late 1990s. In 2000, several libraries around the world announced their intent to integrate RFID technology into their library systems, pioneering its use for contemporary library functions, including the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Lied Library; the National University of Singapore Library; the New Hanover County Public Library of Wilmington, North Carolina; and the Santa Clara City Library of Santa Clara, California.
Like so many other technologies, RFID chips open up new opportunities and potential cost savings while opening up privacy concerns. Every community will have to make its own choice.
I personally believe that more libraries would go for RFID regardless of privacy concerns if it weren’t for the fact that you’d need to put a chip into EVERY. SINGLE. BOOK. in a collection to get the benefits of RFID. Most libraries don’t have the staff or financial resources needed to do the conversion.