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What is RFID?

February 15, 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. These savings allow library staff to focus less on repetitive circulation tasks and more on patron engagement and outreach.

How RFID Works

Every library RFID system includes the following four elements:

  1. RFID tags (paper-thin adhesives with microchips containing data) are affixed to materials. RFID tags are inactive until they receive a signal from an RFID antenna.
  2. An RFID antenna emits power to a surrounding area, which activates any RFID tags that are within range. The antenna sends and receives data to/from these activated RFID tags.
  3. An RFID reader reads and writes data through the RFID antenna to/from RFID tag(s).
  4. A computer application interacts with the RFID reader and uses data to/from RFID tags to accomplish various tasks. For libraries, this most often means accomplishing various circulation and management tasks via connection with a library’s Integrated Library System (ILS).

Advantages of RFID

RFID tags do not require visual line of sight with the RFID antenna. Unlike barcode systems, an RFID antenna does not need line of sight in order to read RFID tags—the tags only need to be in range of the antenna.

RFID tags can be written with circulation and security information. Unlike barcodes, RFID tags can be written (and rewritten) to provide numerous bits of data, including item ID and security on/off settings. Security bits toggle automatically during circulation with no added steps and no magnetic strip.

RFID tags are paper thin and tamper resistant. An RFID tag is more resilient and long lasting than a barcode label and enjoys better protection from the elements when affixed onto the inside cover of an item.

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.