Library 2.0 Gang 05/10: RFID - Connecting with the physical world
Submitted by Richard Wallis on May 12, 2010 - 5:17am
I was joined by two guests to explore how RFID is providing a better experience for library users, and what challenges and opportunities greater adoption of the technology will bring. In the UK Mick Fortune is known as Mr RFID - a key facilitator in the UK’s leading position in RFID adoption in libraries, with his work with the annual RFID in Libraries Conference, the industry adoption of UK standards, and the recently announced RFID Alliance between equipment suppliers.
Skip Driessen, RFID Portfolio Manager for one of those suppliers, 3M, was our other guest. Skip has been with 3M for many years and has been engaged with library implementation of the technology since the early days of 1994.
Europe, especially the UK and Denmark, seems to be to the fore on RFID apparently because of cooperation between suppliers and libraries around the establishment of standards. The cooperation in the UK also looks to be pointing the way towards future innovation.
It was clear from the discussion, that evolved with Gang regulars John Blyberg and Marshall Breeding, that RFID needs to be adopted as part of the core processes of a library. Treating it as just an add-on for a single process, such as self-service, will not provide a ROI. Self-service and RFID are often conflated as issues, they are often closely connected but it was agreed that they are separate issues.
It is also very clear from the conversation that RFID does pose some challenges for the library systems suppliers. We heard of smart-shelving systems establishing a parallel catalogue/databases because the ILS/LMS “didn’t have the horse-power to support the request traffic”; such systems pulling in enrichments such as book-jackets to provide an user enriched experience; and inconsistent implementations of the SIP2 protocol used to connect RFID systems to library systems. Skip indicated that 3M are working on version 3 of their de-facto SIP protocol/standard to hopefully help the industry evolve.
Another interesting and wide ranging discussion about libraries and the technologies that influence them that was a pleasure to chair.
A note from the Chair: This is the last episode of the Gang that I will be chairing. There are discussions underway to hopefully secure the future of the Gang. As soon as I have any further information I will post it on the LibraryGang web site and on twitter @librarygang.