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What is RFID and how does it benefit libraries?

February 28, 2024

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.


Every library RFID system includes the following four elements:

  1. RFID TAGS...are paper-thin adhesives with microchips containing data. These tags are affixed to items and 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 and sends/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. Computer Software...uses data to/from RFID tags to accomplish various tasks. For libraries, the most often means connecting with the library's ILS to accomplish tasks.


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 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 within the inside cover of an item.


Enjoy streamlined conversion, circulation, and security.
A single RFID tag can house circulation and security information. With Tech Logic’s conversion hardware and software, programming is as easy as placing the tag on the antenna, scanning the item’s existing barcode to write the barcode to the tag, and affixing the tag to the inside cover of the item.

Manage shelved items in real time, with no more manual inventories.
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.

Reduce time, effort, and repetitive motion for staff.
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 systems add
efficiencies to any workflow. Staff’s interaction will be with your ILS interface, as it is now.

Empower patrons with streamlined 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 required. Many Tech Logic partner libraries have achieved over 90% self-checkout (some have achieved over 97% self checkout) so staff can invest their talents into more impactful services and outreach.

Simplify item 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. If a gate alarms, library staff can see at a glance which item(s) are triggering the alarm and the system will keep a log of item titles and other statistics for replacement management and other insights.

Launch the next level of automated materials handling (AMH).
Using Tech Logic’s totalAMH system, patrons or staff simply place handful-sized stacks of items into the system. Immediately, our 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.

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.