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Efficient asset tracking and control in public libraries




Public libraries are often the target of theft and book mutilation, especially in fast-growing areas that inherently increase their traffic circulation. In addition, these learning and cultural spaces are vulnerable due to the very nature of their business. They are open to the public and their assets are facilitated to large groups of people daily. Inevitably, libraries provide criminals with plenty of opportunities to steal or damage valuable resources. However, by implementing modern security technologies, library materials can be protected to ensure they remain accessible, and in perfect condition, for the community.

Many public libraries have found in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) the answer to stop recurrent criminal activity. This technology works with tags that are attached to an object. Radio waves can then track the tag and object, improving asset tracking and asset control and optimizing the speed and circulation of users — as collections are back on the shelves faster. Customer service can be benefited from this since public functionaries will be able to dedicate more time to directly serve visitors.

Bringing up to speed libraries with standard library practices and advanced technologies is critical to effectively protect assets, make it easier and quicker for users to check out materials, and provide a more pleasant experience to those who visit these facilities. With RFID, resources can be moved faster through the library system, from shelf to checkout, as multiple books can be scanned at one single time, reducing transaction and visiting periods.

Minimizing unnecessary repetitive tasks by employees also decreases their risk of injuries and makes them more productive and inclined to provide better customer service. Further, RFID facilitates their job by automatically auditing physical inventory of collections in real-time, without having them go to the central desk to check items in their computer. Basically, RFID collects accurate data, reduces human effort and error, and enables efficient inventory, security, and circulation operations.

These are other benefits:

  • Optimization of circulation times: Since more than one tag can be read at a time and the complete inventory of the library can be done with a wand reader, employees will have extra time to devote to other duties, including participation in community programs and more direct assistance to patrons.
  • Fewer injuries: Iterative motions may cause personnel repetitive stress injuries, which can be an expensive liability for municipalities.
  • Highly secure: RFID technologies do not pose any threat in terms of privacy and security to patrons. Data is encrypted and only pieces of the library collection, such as books, DVDs, and other resources are tagged.
  • RFID can read data from long distances.
  • Tags are reusable.

Although a revolutionary and efficacious technology, it is important for public libraries to continue with a strong commitment to securing bibliographic and user databases. Reviewing and updating privacy policies and being transparent with the community on why RFID is the ideal solution for a library is vital to have a successful implementation and to protect user privacy and confidentiality.