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RFID in Libraries Guide

A technology that was originally developed for the military during World War II, and has now encompassed all walks of life by making its foray into retail, medical, education, automotives, fast food, travel industry, and so on, is RFID or Radio Frequency Identification.

RFID is basically one of the automatic identification systems like bar codes, smart cards, etc. which helps machines in identifying objects. It consists of a transponder or a tag which has an embedded integrated circuit and an antenna. The IC is encrypted with a unique electronic product code. The antenna allows the tag to receive and respond to radio frequency queries from an RFID transceiver. It thus, transmits the data stored in its IC to the receiver which in turn sends it to a central computer for processing.

New uses of RFID are being discovered every day. Using them in libraries is just one among them. Currently, approximately 120 million media and books in about 500 libraries worldwide are already attached with RFID labels, and this number is still progressing. With the introduction of RFID, the management of libraries is improving drastically. In libraries RFID plays a crucial role in checking the catalogues and allowing the customers to pass by card readers that automatically updates the computer system by synchronizing the ID information on patron’s library card with the book and indicating that the book has been checked out. Thus, it ensures higher degree of accuracy in record keeping which is a very significant aspect of library management.

Moreover, it is expected that the new technology will help in reducing the costs and improve the tracking of library material as it moves in and out of the shelves. Thus, it will enable the library’s staff to catch anyone who tries to take any material out from the library without their consent. Some of the latest RFID products designed specifically for libraries possess some powerful features such as providing real time information on returned and new items, fast sorting and return of popular items, providing self checkout of materials and allowing web based monitoring. In addition to this these systems can even notify the library staff by e-mail when a printer paper is low, and offer customers a choice of either a paper or e-mail receipt at checkout. RFID system will also meet the demand of complex IT and information research inquiries, such as tracing e-books and electronic journals and creating links to digital materials.

However, like any other new technology RFID has its own share of shortcomings. The most common of these drawbacks is its cost. Like most of the new technologies, RFID equipment such as RFID readers and tags are very expensive. Hence, it is financially impractical for the smaller and not so famous libraries to implement it. Moreover, RFID has some security issues attached to it as it violates citizen’s privacy by tracking them and creating a database of their habits and activities.

However, despite all these drawbacks RFID is a very helpful tool for the libraries to streamline their management.

Sharing Books with Children

One of my first memories of childhood is that of my mother reading Dr. Seuss books to me in a big brown recliner in our living room. That memory brings with it sounds and smells and a general feeling of safety and comfort that never fades, even after all these years. Naturally, one of the first memories I have of my own first born child is sitting in a big chair and reading Little Golden Books to him.

Sharing books and reading with my children is as natural as giving them baths and making their breakfast. It’s just something I do everyday, and it’s one of the most pleasurable moments of my day. I love to hold my two year old in my lap while we snuggle up and look through his ever growing library of books. His favorite books change weekly as his interests broaden. Books open up the world to him and his imagination is bubbling over with new ideas every day.

More than just telling a story, books help children better understand their own ideas and feelings and often calm an upset toddler when nothing else will work. They see and hear about other kids like them and others from around the world who are different. We’ve all seen little kids acting out the stories they hear. As a child I spent many afternoons pretending to be the characters from my favorite books. Just recently my son was playing ‘Dr.Dan. The Bandage Man’, a current favorite Little Golden Book.

Although reading with children is so very rewarding for both adult and child, little kids need time to look at books alone. This allows them the opportunity to look at the pictures and develop the habit of ‘reading’ even though they can’t yet read. In my Family Child Care, I have different ‘libraries’ available in different rooms in my home. The kids have labeled these areas ‘libraries’ themselves, and will often rotate the books from room to room and act out ‘going to the library’ daily. Imagine my surprise when I first witnessed a three year old taking the younger kids ‘to the library.’

Because books are a very user-friendly activity and require no prep or cleanup other than returning them to the ‘library’, parents can and should use any opportunity to share books with their young children. Long car or plane trips, waiting rooms, in shopping carts, you name it, you can hand a child a book and make just about any transition or otherwise boring activity exciting. Books and reading can be both a group or individual activity, and many children who are normally shy in a group setting will sit in the reading circle and share story-time while making new friends.

By sharing books with your young child, you are planting a precious memory that will last a lifetime for both parent and child. They in turn will continue the tradition with their own children and remember those special times. A world of experiences and ideas are waiting for you to introduce to them.