A major project during the summer of 2010 was the installation of an RFID security and stock management system. RFID stands for Radio Frequency IDentification, and involves fitting items with a tag which can be read remotely. The ability to read the tag remotely means that a library inventory can be conducted by using an RFID scanner to pick up the tag IDs of all the books on the shelves (which saves a great deal of time and money over having to open each book in order to scan its barcode). It also means that multiple items may be borrowed or returned simultaneously using the self-service kiosk. Any items not borrowed using the kiosk will trigger an alarm if the user tries to leave the library with the item, and this will greatly reduce the number of books lost each year, saving the library money.
One of the first steps was partial destruction and rebuilding of the floor, in order to install electrical and network cables for the security gates:
Next, the gates themselves were put in (and the floor re-carpeted!):
While all this was going on, RFID tags were placed in all the open-shelf books and programmed with the associated barcode of each individual book:
During a three-week period, The Tagging Team repeated this process over and over again until all 53,602 books were tagged.
Once the self-service kiosk arrived, we were ready to go with the new system:
The new kiosk has been very popular with readers, and provides a much nicer user interface than our previous self-issue system. It gives readers the option of a receipt for each transaction, and many find this a useful way to be reminded of the due dates for their loans.
The security gate area is supervised by CCTV as the library is open 24 hours a day, but only staffed from 09:00-17:00. If the alarm is triggered, it flags the CCTV recording so library staff can easily see if there have been any incidents overnight.
I am looking forward to the upgrading of our library management system (expected in July 2011) which will enable some other features of the kiosk to be used, e.g. readers will be able to see a list of all their loans and renew them on the screen.