Identification par radiofréquence

The Ottawa Public Library’s (OPL) books, DVDs, CDs and all other materials have Radio-frequency Identification (RFID) tags.

What is RFID?

  • RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification
  • RFID tags replace barcodes to identify and track items in the OPL collection

How does it work?

  • RFID produces a harmless low-level radio frequency that is detected by a special reader which scans multiple items at once
  • No personally identifiable info is on the RFID tag, only the item is identified, not the customer
  • The only information that’s stored on the OPL’s RFID tags is the item’s identification number (matching the barcode on the back) OPL may also add some details to identify an item that’s special in some way (such as DVDs with multiple discs, or reference books that can’t be borrowed)
  • OPL uses passive RFID tags. “Passive” means they don’t generate a signal on their own and are only active in the presence of a reader such as an OPL Self-Service kiosk. The RFID tags only transmit radio waves when they’re within about 30 cm of the Library’s RFID readers. The rest of the time they sit dormant and don’t transmit anything at all
  • OPL Library cards are not compatible with RFID. OPL will continue to use barcodes to access customer account information at service desks, self-service kiosks or when using online catalogue or other access points

Why RFID?

  • Improves  customer service and increases customer satisfaction
  • Customers check out multiple items at a time and spend less time waiting in line
  • Returned items are processed immediately. Customer accounts are updated immediately
  • Enables employees to focus on customer service within the branch
  • Facilitates increased volume of circulation, holds and movement of materials among locations
  • Improves inventory control/accuracy
  • Items are easier to find, holds arrive quicker, are re-shelved faster
  • Addresses ergonomic issues for employees (lifting and repetitive movement)

When is it happening?

  • Although RFID is a new technology for OPL, it is a proven technology which has already been implemented in many urban libraries in Canada and around the world
  • Materials conversion from barcode to RFID tags was completed in all branches in 2012
  • RFID equipment is expected to be operating in all branches by 2017

How much will it cost?

  • The OPL budget for RFID implementation at branches in 2013 was $985,000
  • Total estimated remaining capital costs are $4.4M, which will include the purchase of equipment for all remaining branches and the cost of processing new material

RFID in everyday life

  • Hospitals are major RFID users, using it to track expensive equipment.
  • Pets are tagged at the Humane Society
  • Ontario enhanced driver’s licenses have integrated RFID tags since 2009
  • Many countries’ passports include them
  • Since January 2005, Wal-Mart has required its top 100 suppliers to apply RFID labels to all shipments
  • It is estimated that over 30 million library items worldwide now contain RFID tags, including some in the Vatican Library in Rome

RFID safety

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) and many other organizations have conducted extensive research on the potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields. They’ve concluded that there’s no evidence of any adverse effects to general health
  • According to the WHO, there is no record of interference with medical devices such as pacemakers, though consumers should continue to inform themselves about possible interactions with any source of electromagnetic fields
  • At the frequency used by the Library’s RFID systems (13.56 MHz), there is no evidence of adverse effects to general health, pregnancy or women nursing
  • The WHO’s research on electromagnetic fields
  • The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection guidelines

Branches with RFID

  • Hazeldean (Completed: June 2012)
  • Emerald Plaza (Completed: September 2013)
  • Alta Vista (Completed: October 2013)
  • Nepean Centrepointe (Completed: November 2013)
  • Greenboro (Completed: July 2014)
  • Beaverbrook (Completed: August 2014)
  • Cumberland (Completed: August 2014)
  • Rockcliffe Park (Completed: October 2014)
  • Greely (Completed: November 2014)
  • Carlingwood (Completed: December 2014)
  • Main (Completed: December 2014)
  • Metcalfe (Completed: May 2015)
  • Munster (Completed: May 2015)
  • Vernon (Completed: May 2015)
  • Ruth E. Dickinson (Completed: July 2015)
  • Constance Bay (Completed: September 2015)
  • Fitzroy Harbour (Completed: September 2015)
  • Orléans (Completed: September 2015)
  • Osgoode (Completed: October 2015)
  • North Gower (Completed: October 2015)
  • Richmond (Completed: October 2015)
  • Elmvale Acres (Completed: December 2015)
  • Carp (Completed: March 2016)
  • Rosemount (Completed: June 2016)
  • Vanier (Completed: June 2016)
  • Stittsville (Completed: July 2016)
  • Manotick (Completed: August 2016)
  • Rideau (Completed: December 2016)
  • Centennial (Completed: January 2017)
  • Blackburn Hamlet (Completed: March 2017)
  • Sunnyside (Completed: June 2017)
  • North Gloucester (To be completed: November 2017)
  • St-Laurent (To be completed: January 2018)

View a video created by Bibliotheca on how RFID is implemented in libraries.