Libraries all over the world are moving away from the traditional model of using barcodes to scan and check out books. While this method has been around since the advent of barcodes almost 40 years ago, rapidly evolving technology has meant that more efficient, streamlined library management solutions have been developed. The most recent technology, one that many of the largest libraries in the world have already switched over to, is Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID).
This involves affixing a tiny RFID tag onto each book, which allows it to be read by readers stationed across the library. The advantage of this technology over barcodes is that RFID technology does not require a direct line of sight. Thus, multiple books can be detected and checked out simultaneously, instead of having to scan every individual book. In addition, patrons can check their books out themselves, instead of relying on a librarian. This gives the librarian more time to help out other library members, and it lets patrons check their books out faster.
RFID also acts as a security guard on the premises, alerting the guards if a book leaves the library without being checked out. Thus, one single technology, RFID, can replace the existing bar code technology for checkout, as well as the EM technology for theft detection.
RFID also helps in re-shelving, since wrongly shelved books can be instantly identified without needing a line of sight read. Patrons searching for books can also find books much faster using a handheld RFID scanner, instead of having to manually look through the shelves.
Finally, RFID also lets patrons return a book anytime they want. This is because the RFID chip in the book can be identified by the reader in the book drop box, and the returned book can be recorded. A librarian does not need to be physically present to collect the returned book, and so the library effectively stays open 24/7.
Given the many advantages that RFID has over traditional technology that is used in libraries today, many large libraries all over the world such as the Seattle Public Library in America and the Shenzen Library in China have already switched over to RFID.