Ten Tips Before Starting an RFID Project

Transform your library

With RFID technologies, your staff will be empowered with more time to enhance your library’s customer experience while improving overall productivity. Before starting an RFID project, have you considered;

How to choose the right system?

Your desired outcomes?

Your library layout?

Your borrowing policies?

Impacts on staff?

Read our guide below or download the case study to learn about the top ten things you need to know before getting RFID for your library.

RFID library project 1

Ten tips before getting RFID for your library

Open the book, find the barcode, scan the barcode, close the book. Open the book, find the barcode…  And, so the loans and returns gears crunch at your library’s front desk. This is probably just one reason you are looking into RFID products as a solution to improving the efficiency and functionality of your library.

From loans and returns to security and stock take, there’s no doubt RFID can make your library run smoother, while also giving your staff more time to work on projects that educate and engage the public.  But, there’s a lot to consider before jumping in. Once you do though, you’ll wonder how you ever went without. Here are some things you need to know about fitting your library out with RFID products before you get started.

1. Understand the tangible outcomes

Let’s be super clear on the benefits of RFID. Firstly, apart from freeing up your staff’s time through streamlined stocktaking, returns and loans, you’ll also reduce the manual handling of items and improve the security and accuracy of the collection.  Plus, RFID products can actually improve the flow of traffic through your library which positively impacts the patron experience as they easily navigate self-borrowing and return systems.

2. Choosing the right system

Libraries have two options when selecting their RFID system. You can opt for ultra-high frequency (UHF) or high frequency (HF), which is the most common in US public libraries — we provide the equipment for both!  It’s important to note that these two systems cannot interoperate with each other. This means if your library is part of a consortium or larger lending group, we’d advise you to choose the same system they use to ensure inter-library loans work seamlessly. And, if you’d like to get your equipment from multiple vendors, the International Organization for Standardization ISO 28560) covers both UHF and HF systems — just make sure your vendor complies with this standard (as we do) and that you purchase either all UHF or all HF products.

3. It’s not all about borrowing

RFID improves returns. Consider what borrowing and returns facilities you could introduce to your library that will make these processes easier on staff and patrons. An automated returns shelf or 24-hour return chute can eliminate a lot of double handling and wasted time.

4. Library layout

Think about where items are returned, borrowed, and sorted in your library. Is there a designated area for these functions? Does this area impact on the flow and interactions of the patrons with the library space? Perhaps your library would operate more smoothly with several stations for these activities.  Where will your new RFID systems and products go? You should also consider the popularity of certain items and where the security points need to be. What about your patrons with limited mobility, how do you minimize the impact on their experience?

5. What do you need your peak borrowing and return rate to be?

Do you have book readings where 30 parents come in with their children and borrow multiple books at once? What if they borrow 20 books each? Think about how many kiosks you’ll need when one can process 200 books borrowed per hour.

6. What are your library’s current borrowing policies?

How do you handle fines and overdue items? If you are looking at RFID your goal should be to reach 100% accuracy with self-service transactions. Now’s the time to question any policies that make your processes more complicated.

7. Find a provider with a great track record

You need to be considering a provider who can develop software for your customer base.  Someone who specializes in RFID technology for libraries. A sign of a good provider is that they have an active user group and that they include software upgrades in their pricing… Like FE Technologies.

9. Bring the staff along

Change often creates resistance, and the libraries that can bring their staff along for the ride will have smooth transitions after implementation, which will lead to great success. Let your staff know their lives will be made easier by this technology. These systems actually create the time for them to concentrate more on the programs they are passionate about. The programs that promote community integration, learning and togetherness.

8. Prepare for RFID’s arrival

So, you’ve brought the staff along. What happens when the machines that are doing the bulk of the loans break down? Unfortunately, yes, it can happen. Make sure your RFID provider has a good service and support structure and SLAs in place… we do.

10. Get independent help

You are lucky to work in an industry for which sharing experiences is second nature. Talk to vendors, as well as consultants and your LMS vendor. Find out as much as you can and select a provider that’s right for you.  If you are looking to upgrade to RFID, talk to us at FE Technologies about how the process would work with your library systems.

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