RFID to the Rescue

May 21, 2015

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is streamlining library processes. Among RFID’s advantages, the wireless technology allows libraries to automate and expedite checkout and returns.

Smart returns

The new Smart Bin from FE Technologies uses RFID technology to speed up the returns process for patrons and staffers. The bin uses a reading algorithm that can simultaneously receive multiple items, allowing patrons to drop several items into the bin at the same time. The Smart Bin has a capacity of approximately 600 items.

The returns process includes both returning materials to the integrated library system via standard interchange protocol, as well as switching off each item’s security on RFID tags. When installed in conjunction with FE Technologies’ sort assistant, the company guarantees 100% accuracy on returns. The sort assistant uses customized color coding to determine the destination of each item in the bin. Library staffers can use the sort assistant to manually sort multiple items at once by placing them on an RFID pad, allowing returns to go back to the stack quickly and efficiently.

Placed behind a wall for security purposes, the bin can be accessed by patrons returning materials via a simple opening in the wall or by an FE Technologies secure external return chute.

The Smart Bin has an automated platform that moves up and down as required, an ergonomic design that prevents staffers from having to reach and bend to retrieve items. The bin floor rises and falls depending on whether it is being filled or emptied. The floor is controlled by an infrared sensor and an electric lift mechanism. When items are injected in the bin, a short drop distance minimizes damage.

Find more information, visit fetechgroup.com.au/smart-bin.

Tiny reader, big scope

RFID systems help move materials through the library faster. A central component of an RFID system is the reader/writer that enables communication between the transponder and your software. The devices differ from each other in frequencies as well as their communication protocols. Scemtec offers a number of RFID readers/writers. Its 13.56 MHz SIR-2010 for proximity applications is a simple yet effective model, packaged in a lightweight, ergonomic casing.

The SIR-2010 has the strong functionality needed to maintain an RFID system. It comes with an integrated antenna and provides output power of up to 400 megawatts, and LED-light operating mode indicators. Depending on transponder size, reading distances can reach up to 17 centimeters.

The SIR-2010 can be directly integrated into a library’s IT network and function as a standalone device that can take over the management of user identification numbers in library or access applications. Its power over ethernet (PoE) functionality allows it to be placed in strategic locations to optimize its effectiveness, bypassing the need for AC power.

More information on the SIR-2010 can be found at www.stt-rfid.com/SIR-2010_EN.


Case Study: D-Tech Offers Complete RFID Package

Product: RFID services from D-Tech, d-techinternational.com/technologies/rfid.

Details: RFID-enabled self-service and staff stations and security and inventory capabilities

User: Shawn D. Walsh, emerging services and technologies librarian, Madison (Ohio) Public Library

How do you use D-Tech’s RFID?

D-Tech International’s RFID system is an integral part of our library automation.

We use the D-Tech system to charge and discharge materials internally, as well as put items into transfer for other consortia systems. We also use the self-check system to charge out a majority of our materials. Prior to upgrading to RFID, we had implemented self-checks with another vendor.  At that time, we provided the hardware to the vendor specifications and used the vendor-supplied software. When we upgraded to RFID, D-Tech followed the same pattern, allowing us to use our existing hardware and simply add their software and a RFID antenna.

One of the biggest time savings with RFID is that we no longer need to open every container of media we circulate. Most often this was to verify that the appropriate number of discs were returned and in the correct case. With RFID we know if the discs are in the correct cases and if all parts are accounted for.

We are beginning to use D-Tech’s RFID wand system, and we are pleased that the D-Tech hardware integrates with our collection management software that we purchased from CollectionHQ.

How does D-Tech serve Madison Public Library’s needs?

D-Tech serves our needs well, and the company has been willing to customize the software. We have had excellent communications with support personnel and management.

What are the main benefits?

Our hope for the D-Tech system for our library is to speed up routine tasks, allowing staff to spend more time interacting with patrons.  Another benefit we hope to achieve is increased detection of items that were not checked out properly that would lead to an increase in circulation accuracy. We have already begun to see the benefit of less physical handling of materials, and fewer repetitive strain motions for staff.

In the future, we plan to add a materials-handling system powered by RFID to help further free up staff to perform more meaningful and patron-oriented tasks.

What would you like to see improved or added?

While we are quite happy with our D-Tech system, a real-time connection to the circulation software from the D-Tech wands would be helpful. Also, we’d like to see directional RFID detection on the door gates to prevent false detection from incoming items as well as integrated door counters on D-Tech P-Series gates. Finally, while the RFID software integrates well with our automation system, we do still have some instances involving routing holds internally and externally that requires us to manually tell the RFID software if we are charging or discharging an item.


Linda Braun

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Taking time to understand patron needs

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