Radio Frequency Identification Handbook for Librarians

Grant McDougall (GSS Library, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, UK)

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 18 April 2008




McDougall, G. (2008), "Radio Frequency Identification Handbook for Librarians", Library Review, Vol. 57 No. 4, pp. 333-334.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

This book provides a comprehensive assessment of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology as applied in libraries, with a focus on the USA. It is written primarily for professional librarians in the USA who are considering RFID, deciding which system to purchase, and looking at what component parts to include.

There are five chapters, along with eight appendices and a list of suggested readings. The aim of the book is to provide a handbook for professional librarians who are involved in the procurement process for RFID systems. The book describes what RFID is and how the tagging approach can be of benefit to librarians in the work place.

The five chapters cover “An introduction to RFID”, “Considering Implementation of RFID”, “Tags, Readers and Applications”, “How to select a Vendor” and “How to manage the RFID Conversion project”. The appendices cover FAQs, and a list of RFID resources.

The first impression of this book is that as a “handbook” the US focus of the material, though appropriate for US librarians, is not specifically what a UK library professional might need to read prior to selecting RFID technology for their workplace. Glancing at the chapter headings though, there does appear to be information that might be relevant.

Readers will get a poor initial impression of the book because of a series of small printing errors in the first chapter. This is further compounded by the initial style of writing and the use of a number of obvious statements in the main text. The reader is advised that “this is not a physics book” on the first page, while similarly blatant statements are provided through the course of the initial chapters.

Chapter 3 on tags and readers is a useful technical summary of the RFID process and associated technical equipment. This is particularly useful for readers looking for a guide to the hardware requirements for an RFID implementation. Also included in this chapter is an examination of how RFID can be integrated into sorting procedures (referred to here as automated materials handling).

The section on how to select a vendor provides a number of useful tips with regard to gathering data about the process, even though it is geared mainly for the US market place and US procurement practices. Appendix D.1 provides a useful comparative list of the technical specifications by US vendors, and a description of the technical features often found in separate sales documents and manufacturers' technical guides. Readers will be pleased to have this – no need to search through many individual pdf documents to compare!

There is a useful section on the staffing issues in relation to implementing an RFID conversation process. In this instance, the authors provide a good breakdown of the elements required for a successful project. A later section identifies where problems might occur. Unfortunately, there is only a small section on “going live” and project evaluation, and this could have been considerably expanded.

Generally, this book provides some good hints and tips and gives a useful summary of this technology. Although I would not choose this as an essential handbook and a practical guide to selecting a vendor or managing a conversion project in the UK, as part of preliminary background reading this book provides some very useful technical information. It would be even more useful for US readers.

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