Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for Hume Libraries’ customers

Frequently Asked Questions

What is RFID and where is it used?
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is the use of an object (typically referred to as an RFID tag) applied to or incorporated into a product for the purpose of identification and tracking using radio waves. Within a library, the RFID system replaces the current barcode system and scanner by utilising an RFID reader and microchip to identify items. The RFID tag can also be used for security tracking, eliminating the need for the electromagnetic security strips used currently.

RFID technology is used around the world in many places:
· Warehouses and transport
· Veterinary Surgeries (micro-chipped pets)
· eTags on tollways
· Airlines for baggage tracking
· Hospitals
and in many Libraries worldwide!

The use of RFID technology delivers significant benefits in terms of efficiencies, improvements to productivity, service, materials handling and collection management.

Unlike the current barcode system with RFID you don’t need to see the RFID tag to read the information, meaning library resources and materials can be processed at significantly faster speeds. In addition, while the former barcoding system requires items to be individually scanned, multiple RFID tags can be read simultaneously – sometimes up to 50 per second.

Will all Hume Libraries have RFID technology?
Yes. All our items will be tagged, allowing the entire Hume Libraries collection to be managed by this new and exciting technology.

Where does the RFID technology come from?
Hume Libraries is pleased to be working with F.E. Technologies, a Geelong-based Australian company supplying RFID equipment. Most of the equipment we are using has been built in Australia.

How will the Hume Libraries use it?
As well as the familiar barcodes, all our items now have an RFID tag. The tag allows library staff to quickly and accurately 'check in' resources as well as lend items out in less time. In addition, four of our six libraries - The Age Library, Craigieburn, Tullamarine and Sunbury - will all have ‘Self Loan Stations’ which will allow customers to checkout multiple items quickly and easily themselves (with the assistance of our friendly staff if required).

How will I check out my items?
We will be encouraging all customers to use the Self Loan Stations. The Self Loan Stations provide library customers with a fast and simple check out service. Multiple items can be borrowed in the one process. With customers utilising the Self Loan Stations, library staff will have more time to offer their skills and knowledge towards a greater number of beneficial and informative programs on the library floor, ultimately providing greater value to the Hume Libraries community.

"Radio Frequency" - is that a potential health concern?
No. The tags and scanners work at mere 13.56 MHz which is in the 'shortwave' radio band; the same as ordinary radio waves which have surrounded us since before the 1940s. It is not like mobile phone technology which works at a much higher frequency. The RFID scanners and security gates have only a short range for their transmitters and the technology does not interfere with pacemakers, hearing aids or other similar devices.

What about staff jobs? Will there be fewer staff to help me?
No. This technology has been introduced to improve customer service. Along with our collections, our staff are our best asset and will continue to help you as required. Hume Libraries serve an ever growing community and RFID technology will help us to manage this growth over time. RFID technology simply provides our staff with an extremely effective means of managing large library collections, along with efficiently handling large numbers of loans and returns.

What about privacy?
No change. Hume Libraries have always safeguarded your privacy and membership records. Our normal data protection precautions are in place and will remain so. You will continue to use your normal barcode membership card to borrow. The nature of library RFID tags requires them to be 'read' by equipment closer than 20 - 30cm. It is not possible to scan items across a room or a street to 'read' what a person has borrowed.



Updated : 4:48 PM, 22 July 2015