RFID PROJECT SUMMARY Strategic infrastructure development While not a directly bankable benefit, this is important if the library service is to take advantage of new process automation and augmentation technologies in the future. Many new innovations that are being developed around the world are enabled by and predicated upon RFID based architectures. Products such as smart shelves, smart bins, location assist systems and intelligent surfaces are being evaluated in various localities with additional RFID-capable products under development. Also, modern Smartphones have inbuilt RFID readers which can interact with library RFID tags, potentially opening the door for some exciting new products. There is a significant strategic element involved with the acquisition of RFID library technology. While it is easy to think of the tags and equipment involved as a means to a specific end such as productivity or security etc, the consequences go further. It is good to recognise that in embracing RFID, Unley Libraries are actually building a strategic infrastructure for the future. This infrastructure will enable the benefits sought in the short term but it will also represent the base on which future innovation will take place. There exists a growing trend within the supplier community to channel their research and development efforts and budgets toward products and systems that are based on an RFID infrastructure. While a minority of library technology suppliers continue to offer traditional security systems and self-service loans equipment based on the barcode / security strip combination, such products are now perceived by many to be declining in their commercial viability within public libraries. When one examines the library process automation technology suppliers currently active in Australia, all offer solutions based on RFID but very few offer equipment compatible with barcodes and electromagnetic security strips and, where it is offered, this equipment tends to be significantly more expensive than its RFID counterparts. Self-service & privacy Self-service for library users is obviously a key component in liberating staff time, which may subsequently be applied to other value-adding services. Not to be overlooked however is the fact that many library users also value the self-service concept itself. Issuing library materials within an RFID equipped library is quick and easy for borrowers. Self-service machines are also anonymous in as much as the library user does not have to reveal the nature of the material borrowed to a library staff member. This privacy aspect may be important to library users who seek information on topics concerning personal medical conditions for example and who might hesitate to borrow such material if required to hand it to a staff member for processing. Staff skills & job satisfaction While RFID based self-service reduces the staff / user contact at the point of issue, it also opens up the possibility for significantly higher value interactions with library users in other ways. The context is created in which staff may interact with library users at a higher professional level by assisting them to locate specific material and also recommending appropriate material based on their experience and knowledge. Such a context not only improves the service received by library users but also has the potential to be more rewarding for staff as their expertise is put to good use and is appreciated and acknowledged by the recipients. A move to RFID based self-service also provides a means for staff to maintain their skills by moving into an operating context that is becoming increasingly common. For such staff the transition process involved in moving to the new circulation model will be seen as an important part of their professional development bringing new and marketable experience.
RFID PROJECT SUMMARY One Card Library Management System It is anticipated that within the next 5 years, most metropolitan library services will transition to an RFID service model as the implementation of the One Card Library Management System is finalised by end of 2014. The SA public library 'one card' network is connecting the systems of more than 130 public libraries across South Australia to let customers borrow and return items wherever they go, using their current library card. Libraries have high expectations of the Consortium and anticipate a greater sharing of resources, reduction in duplication of effort and greater visits to libraries across traditional council boundaries. A direct result of the sharing of resources is the increased manual handling for library staff when processing material requested from other libraries, and also returning the material to those libraries. RFID implementation will significantly reduce the OHS risks for library staff, and it is therefore understandable that most libraries are preparing to implement RFID within the next 5 years. In addition to the One Card Library Management System, Public Library Services (PLS) provides an acquisitions and procurement service to all public libraries in South Australia. This service is well utilised by Unley Libraries, purchasing the majority of library materials from the annual Public Libraries Materials Grant ($149,427 in 203/14). PLS is proposing a roll out of RFID tagged material to all public libraries as more and more libraries across the metropolitan and regional South Australia are implementing RFID. This means all new library material will be shelf ready with RFID tags by Dec 2015, potentially saving Councils further layout costs. The following libraries have already implemented RFID with another 5 Councils such as Mitcham and Playford implementing in 2014: Adelaide City Council Libraries, Adelaide Hills, Alexandrina, Gawler, Mt Gambier, Murray Bridge, Onkaparinga, Roxby Downs, Tea Tree Gully, Victor Harbor, Whyalla. 4. ADVICE ON ADDITIONAL OPTIONS TO BE CONSIDERED Library-wide deployment of RFID self-service is not the only option available to Unley. One alternative would be that of tagging all library items but implementing RFID self-service and perhaps other equipment only at Unley Civic branch as this service point offers the strongest return on investment. The following, based on the assumption of a fully RFID tagged collection, is offered as a basis for discussion: