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RFID Implementation

​About CKPL’s RFID Implementation

Chatham-Kent Public Library (CKPL) received a grant of $506,355 as part of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) to implement RFID technology system-wide at CKPL. This grant was jointly funded by the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada as part of the Covid-19 Resilience Stream.

To implement RFID technology at CKPL an RFID tag must be applied to all library items, new security gates will be installed, and Express Checkouts will be made available at all 11 CKPL branches. The introduction of RFID technology will lead to improved customer service and increased customer satisfaction, increased inventory control and accuracy, and enhanced staff and patron health and safety.

Community members will see CKPL staff members tagging at branches across Chatham-Kent over the next several months. Access to some collections will be restricted during this time.  Please visit CKPL's Service Interruption page for a complete schedule of upcoming RFID service interruptions. 

Benefits of RFID implementation include:

  • Improved customer service and increased customer satisfaction
  • Increased inventory control and accuracy 
  • Enhanced staff and patron health and safety

What is RFID?

  • An RFID system has two parts: a tag and a reader. 
  • Information is encoded on the tag and the RFID reader accesses that information and passes it along to the system that needs it.
  • Within the tag, there is a microchip that holds information and an antenna with a protective overlay. For library items, the RFID tags look like white mailing labels and are adhered permanently to library items. 
  • The RFID tags placed on library items are passive, meaning they have no batteries or other power source. The energy needed to power and read the tag comes from the reader.
  • CKPL will have readers at the circulation desks and at express checkouts with additional readers installed in the security gates near the entrances.
  • RFID in libraries have a couple of advantages over using barcode technology. Each time a barcoded item is checked in or out, the user or staff member must present it individually to the reader and align it with a scanner. Barcoded items sometimes require multiple scans before they are read. And barcodes can be scratched or rendered unreadable due to normal wear-and-tear, due to their placement on the outside of a library item. This is a time-consuming process compared to RFID technology, which allows several items to be processed at once without requiring alignment. 

How does RFID work?

  • RFID readers emit signals that search for a tag. When a tag comes within range, the signal hits it, “awakens” the tag, and provides the power for the tag to respond with the kind of information that the RFID reader wants.
  • When checking out a stack of books, each tag instantly responds with its unique item ID number. The RFID system relays the ID number to CKPL's integrated library system, which retrieves the item information and checks the item out. 
  • When items are returned, the tag responds with the ID number and the system checks the item in, removing it from the patron’s library account. 
  • If someone starts to leave the library with an item, the reader asks the tag if the item has been checked out. If the tag responds negatively, the gate reader will sound an alert, reminding the user to return the item or check it out. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is radio frequency a health concern?
No. The tags and scanners work on a '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? 
This technology is being introduced to improve customer service. The efficiencies created with the implementation of RFID technology will allow CKPL staff to spend more time with patrons to help connect them with resources and services.

What about privacy for patron details?
Patrons will continue to use their normal barcode membership card to borrow items. RFID tags are encoded with item information only. Tags cannot be read from across the room or street to see what a patron has borrowed.

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