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Using RFID in a Library Application



Our systems are all about people, places and things. There is some "thing" that needs to be managed. It may be in a certain place, or moving regularly between different places.  And a person is responsible for it, though that responsibility may change from time to time. So a Library Application is one that can use the technology that we have developed for a variety of applications over the years. It may be comforting to know that the paperback you have recently loaned is being tracked by software designed for use in a nuclear facility.


Barcodes have many advantages, especially when compared to manual or card systems. They make identification of an item easy, fast and accurate.  They are inexpensive. They are easy to apply. The technology is mature and well understood. Readers are inexpensive and reliable. So for many applications, a system based on barcodes is a cost efficient solution. We have provided many such systems, to Federal Government departments, and to private industry. They are good, but a new technology, RFID, is becoming more mature, and offers some advantages in many applications.

RFID - The Technology

RFID systems use tags which include electronic circuitry that can detect when they are being read, and are able to transmit a signal to the reader which identifies the specific tag. It is as if the reader shouts "who is here", and the three tags within range shout "Tom", "Dick" and "Harry".

As applied to a library application

Items to be identified are marked with an RFID tag. So, to track people, places and things, we need to identify the individual taking responsibility for the items, and the items themselves. In a library application, this means issuing each borrower with a card containing an RFID tag, and each book, CD or other item to be tracked will have an RFID tag attached.

Reading the tags

Datalogic Memor 10 with RFID shield

This can be done with a fixed or mobile reader. In a typical library situation, a fixed mount reader would be used, attached to a computer which is used to register and display all actions. To check out a book or several books, the books and the recipients ID card are place on the reader. A screen display will confirm the identity of the recipient, and provide a count and listing of the books issued. If it is of value, an issue listing can also be produced. This might be useful if a borrower takes several books, and can't later remember which ones.


The return process is the same as the issue process, except that the librarian will place their card (or a special card provided for the purpose) with the books. All transactions, issues and returns, are logged.


The system can provide a wide variety of reports, including issues by individual, by day or by month, listing of most popular loans, and of course, items overdue for return.


Both barcode and RFID systems provide better control and reduced costs of operation. RFID is perhaps the easier to use, especially when tracking multiple items. A single read captures all items. If you need to know more about using our systems for managing a library, please feel free to contact us.  We will be happy to help you, and to advise of the best configuration for your library. We can also provide current pricing, for system and tags, as well as advice when we can install the system and have it up and running at your facility.


SageData is based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

We design, supply and support systems built around RFID, Barcodes and Handheld computers.

For further information, or for advice and assistance with your application, contact Doreen Garvin or Trinity Joseph.

Click here to reach SageData by email.

To reach us by phone:
from outside Ottawa, dial 1-888-838-1067
from Ottawa, dial 613-225-4404

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