[Videolib] RE: RFID: Which problems does it solve (and which does it

Melissa Riley (mriley@sfpl.org)
Wed, 4 Aug 2004 10:20:19 -0700

My own quick definitions! Caveat emptor!
RSI Repetitive Stress Injuries: Carpal tunnel and any other kinds of physical problems caused by awkward repeated motions.

RFID= Radio Frequently Idenitifcation
This has been in use for many years in a variety of circumstances: Our library IDs have RFID tags on them which let us unlock doors at the Main Library.
Stores are moving into using them for tracking all inventory, I think.
In question here are systems for checkout and security.
As used by libraries, RFID security and checkout systems usually have a tag containing a chip and an antenna which is placed (currently) near the spine of a book in the back. This tag replaces both the barcode and security strip.The security signal is automatically turned off when the book is checked out.
These tags can be read many at a time in a stack of items, unless the items (like CDs and DVDs) are too thin! And the tag reader can be approached from more than one direction--it's les fussy than a barcode reader.
To protect patron privacy, at best, the tag does not use the ISBN or some other universally recognized number. Tag numbers should be meaningless unless one has access to the library database. Library RFID systems currently require the security gates or tag reader to be within a few feet of the item.
Melissa Riley
415 355-5796