2 Dec 2012

Is RFID the saviour of the small library?

I've been doing some research into Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and whether it can assist the small library in meeting the challenges of everyday operation. Investigating whether self-service machines with RFID can assist small teams - and does it increase security? We are in a period of increasingly tight or non-existent budgets, and decreasing staff numbers, but we also face increased patron demands coupled with requests for extended opening hours. So in order to ensure an effective service delivery, do we seek a technical solution? 

CILIP recently ran another one day conference on the use of RFID within libraries, (the eighth that it has held). I've found the available presentations and the subsequent blogs and tweets from the conference helpful in working through the issues around RFID. Reading through the relevant literature is one thing, but the 'real world' feedback from the information professionals and librarians who are already working with and utilising RFID, is a little bit more enlightening.

As a new member of a small library team, I'm focused on what aspects RFID or other technologies can assist us in delivering a better overall service to our patrons. From testimonials on some vendor websites, it does appear that RFID provides the required self-service delivery. As a student, I personally preferred using the self-service kiosks and if I had been able to pay fines at the same time as check in/out books, it would have been a huge bonus. (Mea maxima culpa - I admit it, I did accrue fines!)

So where does all this pondering leave me? I welcome technology that assists our role and provides added value, whilst enhancing patron experience. I've been seeking a solution that incorporates RFID within a self-service kiosk that includes payment of fines, a one-stop-library-shop so to speak. Thankfully, our profession is one that encourages the use and implementation of technology to augment our service delivery. If only we had limitless budgets to fund all our ideas to enhance our patrons experience.


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