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Five ways that RFID works for libraries

February 25, 2022

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is widely used within the library industry because, when compared to traditional barcode and item security systems, RFID brings substantial cost and labor savings to the library workflow.

Specifically, here are five core ways that you can put RFID to work in your library:

1. Shelf Management

Imagine walking through the stacks, running a handheld RFID reader along each shelf (without having to pull items off the shelf), and detecting any items with exception statuses (for example: lost, trace, missing, claimed returned) that fall within your search parameters. This is a reality because of Tech Logic’s award-winning staffCIRC TRAK solution.

This system consists of a portable RFID antenna/reader (less than 1.35 pounds) and a ten-inch tablet that, unlike competitor systems, requires no list loading. staffCIRC TRAK uses secure WiFi to communicate in real time with the ILS via SIP2 protocol and immediately alert the user of any detected items with exception statuses.

2. Staff Workstations

Because RFID tags do not require visual line of sight with the RFID antenna, staff can process small stacks of items simultaneously by simply placing them on the antenna. Multi-item workflow is 3–4 times faster than a barcode workflow. Working with the library’s ILS, Tech Logic’s RFID staff workstations add efficiencies to the staff workflow. Staff’s interaction will be with your ILS interface, as it is now.

3. Patron Self Service

RFID self-checkout is 3–4 times faster than barcode self-checkout because patrons can process small stacks of items simultaneously on an RFID antenna. Upon checkout, the system automatically turns off the security bit within the RFID tag—no separate security steps to sensitize magnetic strips are required.

Many Tech Logic partner libraries enjoy over 95% of their onsite checkouts accomplished through self service (some have achieved 95-100% self service). This allows staff to invest their talents into more impactful services and outreach.

4. Item Identification and Security

With RFID, the same tag that contains circulation information also contains a security bit that can be toggled automatically upon check-in or checkout. This means no extra steps to activate or deactivate security when charging items. If an item causes an RFID gate to alarm, the gate can register the item's barcode via RFID, allowing library staff to see at a glance the ILS information for item(s) that are triggering the alarm. Over time, the system will compile a log of item titles and other statistics for replacement management and other insights.

5. Automated Materials Handling

Using Tech Logic’s totalAMH system, patrons or staff simply place handful-sized stacks of items into the system and then walk away. No single-item manual processing or interface is required. The totalAMH system automatically separates stacks and then uses RFID technology that is built into the conveyance to simultaneously check-in each item (communicating with the ILS via SIP2), activate security, and conduct other check-in tasks as applicable (e.g. hold slips). Lastly, the system sorts each item into bins/totes defined by ILS rules and library configurations.

Freedom to focus on patron engagement

RFID systems deliver an immediate and ongoing return on investment for libraries through powerful circulation, distribution, item security, and collection management efficiencies. Ultimately, these savings allow library staff to focus less on repetitive circulation tasks and more on the crux of the library's mission: patron engagement and outreach.

Tech Logic connects libraries with their communities through dynamic, innovative, and efficient workflow technologies—delivering unparalleled service and outstanding patron experience. Since 1997, we have worked exclusively with libraries to develop solutions that empower library patrons and staff.