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RFID in Libraries


Robot Librarian?

Introduction of RFID

RFID means Radio frequency identification, which is a new technology that uses radio waves to automatically identify items. Due to the many advantages of RFID in libraries, It is using its services. Modern libraries are having millions of books; periodicals, CDs, DVDs, and other electronic materials which is not easy to organize manually. Since the 1970s RFID in Libraries is the latest technology to become a smart library.

The goal of the RFID system is to read data from transponders or tags and to retrieve data, by machine-readable scanners. This is the technology being used by both industry and academic institutions.

  Types of Tags

A tag is a small device that stores information. Tags are three types, active, semi-passive, and passive. Passive tags don’t have internal batteries. RFID reader or Scanner is a device that can receive and transmit a radio signal.  Active and semi-passive RFID tags are used for tracking. These tags are costly. The passive RFID tags are used for library management systems.

How RFID works  in Libraries

RFID library management system consists of documents, each inserted with an RFID tag,  Reader or Scanner, Computer network, and Software. Library staff uses Scanner for issuing and returning of books, using RFID tags. Library staff locates library books attached to RFID tags easily. The application of this technology in libraries saves both user and staff’s time.

An institution that implements RFID library management saves users precious time, as he has to wait for his turn in a queue for issuing or returning a book. Traditional library staff’s time is spent in recording information on incoming and outgoing books.

Transaction of books at the Circulation Section in the Library becomes fully automatic with the help of self-check-in and Check-out systems. This system involves the installation of special Library software having RFID module, for example, Libsys Software. The library can be opened with few or no staff s.

With the help of RFID in Libraries, Users who wants to borrow books, go to the bookshelf and then Self Issue Counter where he keeps book at RFID Reader, his book gets issued and when he wants to return, he goes to the library, keeps at RFID Reader and it gets automatically returned. Then the user takes that book and puts it in DropBox. The Book Dropbox is located near the RFID reader where users issue and return books in the Library.

Read Related Article – RFID Library Technology 

There are two types of drop boxes. One is done manually. This box has a rock shock absorber system at the bottom of the box so that book spine binding does not damage. Another is you insert the book and it has a hydraulics belt that takes it inside and drops in a box automatically.

These facility helps users 24/7 visit library and take its service. If any user takes the book without issuing the book, Alarm rings at the entrance of the library, a surveillance gate is installed there.

The Security personnel will catch him. Thus from a security point of view RFID technology is equipped for the Library. RFID Surveillance Gates is the anti-theft part of the Library RFID Management System, which is using the same RFID tags embedded in the library items.

Gate is able to track items from 1 meter and would trigger the alarm system when an un-borrowed item passed through them. The alarm will sound and lights on the gate will flash as the user passes through with the un-borrowed library material and security will get hold of him.

Wichita Falls Public Library Staff Member, Jana, explains RFID

Components of RFID System

  1. RFID tags / transponder
  2. Readers or Sensors
  3. Antenna.
  4. The server on which the software of integrated library software is loaded.
  5. RFID Label Printer
  6. Handheld Reader
  7. Self Check Unit
  8. Drop Down Box
  9. Anti Theft Surveillance  Gate

Advantages of RFID in Libraries

  • Automatic  Transaction
  • Automatic materials handling
  • Automated sorting of books on return
  • Easy book identification for shelving
  • Easy stock verification
  • Allow accuracy in book collection management
  • Faster Circulation
  • Faster inventory process.
  • Helping in  tracing  of book location
  • High level of security
  • Improved tracking of high-value items
  • Improves customer service
  • Improves staff productivity
  • Inventory check with ease.
  • Inventory visibility accuracy and efficiency
  • The longevity of Tag life
  • Misshelve easy identification
  • More than one item can be checked out or checked in at the same time.
  • Reduce materials cost and handling
  • reducing duplication work processes
  • Reduction in workplace injuries
  • Reliability
  •  RFID is better than barcodes
  • Self Check-in and Check Out
  • Streamlined Inventory Management.
  • Theft reduction
  • RFID improves library services
  • RFID tags are very simple to fix·

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Disadvantages of RFID in Libraries

  • High Cost
  • Chances of removal of exposed tags
  • exit gate sensor problems
  • User Privacy concern
  • Tag collision
  • Interoperability


The RFID tag contains identifying information. This Tag acts as a security device. The books and membership cards are fitted with an RFID tag. The cost of technology is the main problem as Libraries don’t have much budget. This technology is very effective, convenient, and cost-efficient technology in the library.

This technology has replaced the traditional bar-code on library items. RFID reader, which replaced the standard barcode reader which used to be the library’s circulation desk.


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