November 20, 2003

RFID at 11-2003 Program

Mairi McFall's talk on RFID, from the November 17 IF Issues Update. Great talk!

RFID – Ten things to consider:

1. Educate yourself about RFID technology. Don’t depend on what a vendor may tell you, although vendors can be good sources of information. A few useful web sites are:

a. Has official information on Radio Frequency health issues.
b. A browsable glossary of terms related to radio frequency.
c. A partnership between almost 100 companies and five research universities groups working on implementing radio frequency identification.
d. CASPIAN: Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbers. An organization concerned with privacy issues of commercial RFID use. Some of these issues are applicable to library RFID use.
e. Reports/TechNotes/Tech_Notes.htm The TechNotes site has a brief paper on RFID with links to other information.
f. A list of libraries that have bought various technology products including RFID and from whom. Links to the acquisition process are included.
g. Searching on “RFID libraries” in Google will produce a continually changing set of links, including vendors, libraries that are adopting RFID and other information.

2. Someone on your staff should be prepared to understand how the systems actually work. The more information you have about what actually happens in the transactions, the more you will be able to ask questions and answer those asked by your stakeholders, patrons, the press, staff, etc, etc.

3. When looking at issues around RFID, concentrate on those that are realistic. There are issues users may raise about RFID that we may not be able to solve. These include health concerns about the radio waves, since not enough is know about this topic at this time and how it applies to the low frequency radio waves used in RFID.

4. Many concerns about RFID are related to retail use, not library use. Retail use includes detailed information about the product and sometimes about the owner. When looking at RFID, make sure that information about your items and patrons is not on the tag.

5. Consider the choice between read only and read/write. Some part of the tag should be read only, to protect the barcode, but what information would you be putting in a read/write section?

6. Look into having some kind of minimal level of security on the RFID system. Vendors that work with libraries should and are coming up with security measures to protect patron privacy.

7. Only the barcode on the tag. If other information is on the tag, it should not identify patron or item information.

8. Examine the difference between proprietary tags and tags that follow an industry standard, which are not yet completely developed. Retail scanners might easily read tags that follow industry standard for retail. If tags follow an industry standard, make sure that steps are taken to make the tag information unreadable to scanners in public locations.

9. Continue to educate yourself, as things will continue to change.

10. Make sure there is a concerted effort to not sacrifice patron security for staff efficiency and the great benefit that RFID offers libraries. One talking point to remember is that RFID can actually increase a users privacy because self-check and automatic check-in removes staff from the process.

Posted by kgs at November 20, 2003 08:12 PM
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