In September 2012, Herrick District Library installed self-check machines at the check-out desk and youth services desk of the main library, allowing patrons to check out library materials using a new technology called RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). Library staff members continue to be present at the check-out desk to help patrons with the self-check process, as well as to answer circulation questions.
RFID has been in place at the Herrick District Library North Branch for over one year, and library users have responded positively. The check-out process has sped up considerably at the North Branch due to the implementation of RFID technology. Herrick District Library is excited to now offer RFID technology at the main library as well.
What is RFID and how does it work?
- RFID is a method of remotely storing and retrieving data using devices called RFID tags that can be attached to a product.
How will Herrick District Library use RFID?
- HDL places RFID tags in each library item (book, CD, DVD, etc.).
- The tags are used to check materials out without the need to search for a barcode on each item.
What are the benefits of RFID?
- Easier checkout for patrons. Many library patrons prefer the speed, convenience and privacy of checking out their own materials. The latest RFID-enabled checkout machines allow users to renew materials, check the status of holds and pay charges on their accounts.
- Improved theft prevention and collection management. RFID technology makes it easier to locate items that are on hold, missing or misshelved.
- Speedier processing of library materials—and healthier staff. With RFID, items move faster through the system, and are made available to patrons more quickly. This also lowers the incidence of repetitive stress injury (such as hand, wrist or shoulder pain) among the workers who handle library materials daily.
Has (or will) the conversion to RFID caused any staff to lose their jobs?
- The intent with RFID is not to cut staffing levels; rather it is to gain efficiencies and improve processes in such a way that we are able to effectively manage workload with the staffing levels we currently have.
- RFID will also free up more HDL staff members to answer patron questions and provide more personalized customer service.
Are there any health effects associated with RFID?
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has conducted extensive research on the potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields. At the frequency used by the library’s RFID systems (13.56 MHz), there is no evidence of adverse effects to general health or pregnancy. Nor is there any record of interference with medical devices such as pacemakers.
- Since the RFID tags placed in library items are passive, they do not produce electromagnetic fields except when in proximity to a powered transmitter, such as those used in the library’s checkout stations and security gates. Patrons may be assured that a library book or DVD does not produce an electromagnetic field on its own.
How is my privacy protected with RFID?
- Herrick District Library remains committed to the privacy of patron information under the Library Privacy Act of Michigan. The library’s RFID tags will carry only barcode information. No title, author, patron name or use pattern can be found by reading an RFID tag.
Will there be an RFID tag in my library card?
- Herrick District Library does not plan to use RFID-enabled library cards at this time.
For more information: