Radio-frequency application ranging from asset tracing, services

Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is an automatic identification method, relying on storing and remotely retrieving data using devices called RFID tags or transponders. The technology requires some extent of cooperation of an RFID reader and an RFID tag.

An RFID tag is an object that can be applied to or incorporated into a product, animal, or person for the purpose of identification and tracking using radio waves. Some tags can be read from several meters away and beyond the line of sight of the reader.

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RFID plays important Role in redefining the library process to make everyone’s job easier right from patron To library staff. By the use of RFID technology in library a librarian can manage their collections, streamlining and automating item retrieval, storage and inventory processes. This paper discussed ,Uses of RFID device can promote operational efficiency in modern library environment.

INTRODUCTION

RFID is not a new technology . It was first used in military. In world war II it was used for an application called ” Identify Friend or Foe” (IFF) 1.A very inportant technology in the context of ubiquitous computing is “Radio-frequency- Identification “, abbreviated “RFID”. The RFID technology is a technology that has the potential to change our way of life completely. In recent years, RFID became a “hype” technology. Many companies have already started to use the technology, first in pilots , later in productive environments.

RFID has become popular for using a wide variety of application ranging from asset tracing, services industries, logistics, libraries, manufacturing to supply chain. In 1948 Harry Stockman first introduced the theory and implementation of RFID in his paper entitled “Communication by means of reflected power” 2. But in the decades of 1970’s RFID technology achieved the interest in research community. RFID technology shows great potential for cost reduction, busniness process redsign, supply chain improvement and on-site customer support. RFID is projected to grow rapidly with the phenomenal advancements in wireless communication technologies.

The libraries across the globe started to use RFID technology to control the fraud prevention and to ease the inventory control with selfchecking in/out of materials in the library. The RFID technology replaced the barcode technology .RFID tags are a small low cost small device that can hold a limited amount of data and report the data when queried over radio by radar. It can be active, semi-passive and passive which is available in many sizes with varying data storage capability. Passive tags don’t have internal batteries. It is built to encode data stored in the tag’s microprocessor. Because of the higher cost, active and semi-passive RFID tags are used for valuable asset tracking. The passive RFID tags are used in RFID library management systems

. RFID in libraries

A wide variety of oranizations are using RFID to fine-tune of their operations. Radio Frequency Identification has the potential to speed up library services and streamline time- consuming operations, such as check in/out, sorting, inventory , update of the database possible , easy search for misshelved books and increases the security function in a library

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The benefits of RFID from the perspectives of its three stakeholders- the library as an orgnization , its staff, and its patrons.

Benefits to library staff Library curculation staff get the most benefits from RFID technoloy, such as reducing the repetitive stress injuries, reducing time needed for circulation operation, and so on.:- Reducing the repetitive stress injuries Less time need for ciculation operations-it can charge or discharge several items at the same time at staff ciculation sorstations. RFID can also expedite the sorting process needed to direct materials ot their proper location after they have been returned. RFID tags can also be used to identify library and branch information for libraries that allow inter- library and intra-library borrowing.

Benefits to libraries

RFID, properly implemented in the right places, has the potential of ding just that for libraries. Security- The RFID exit gates can not only alert staff to the unauthorized removal of an item, but also record that item’s indentificaiton Inventory- RFID technology can also reduce the costs accociated with taking library inventory. Stacks management -RFIS techonolgy can also be used to manage materials on the shelves- to find items that are missing and to identify items that have been misshelved

Benefits to patrons

RFID provides better self-service capabilies. One way or the other, patrons spend less time waiting in check-ot line. Not only does this but it also enhances patron privacy.
3. Components of an RFID System
The three main system components can be further separated into six more sub- components:

RFID tags that are electronically programmed with unique information Readers or sensors to query the tags Antenna Server on which the software that interfaces with the integrated library software is loaded. An encoder or a printer A Middleware

Tags

RFID tags contain tiny semiconductor chips capacity of at least 64 bits. and miniaturized antennas inside some form of packaging. Tags can hold many kinds of information about books they are attached to. There are three types of tags: “read only”, “WORM,” and “read/write” . “Tags are “read only” if the identification is encoded at the time of manufacture and not rewritable. “WORM” (Write-Once-Read-Many) tags are programmed by the using organization, but without the ability to rewrite them later. “Read/write tags,” which are chosen by most libraries, can have information changed or added. In libraries that use RFID, it is common to have part of the read/write tag secured against rewriting, e.g., the identification number of the item.3

Reader

RFID readers or receivers are composed of a radio frequency module, a control unit and an antenna to interrogate electronic tags via radio frequency (RF) communication 5. The reader powers an antenna to generate an RF field. When a tag passes through the field, the information stored on the chip in the tag is interpreted by the reader and sent to the server, which, in turn, communicates with the integrated library system when the RFID system is interfaced with it 4.
RFID exit gate sensors (readers) at exits are basically two types. One type reads the information on the tag(s) going by and communicates that information to a server. The server, after checking the circulation database, turns on an alarm if the material is not properly checked out. Another type relies on a “theft” byte in the tag that is turned on or off to show that the item has been charged or not, making it unnecessary to communicate with the circulation database.
Readers in RFID library are used in the following ways 3:
• Conversion station: where library data is written to the tag
• Staff workstation at circulation: used to charge and discharge library materials
• Self check-out station: used to check out library materials without staff assistance
• Self check-in station: used to check in library materials without staff assistance
• Exit sensors: to verify that all material leaving the library has been checked out
• Book-drop reader: used to automatically discharge library materials and reactivate
security
• Sorter and conveyor: automated system for returning material to proper area of
library
• Hand-held

Antenna
The antenna produces radio signals to activate the tag and read and write data to
it. Antennas are the channels between the tag and the reader, which controls the system’s
data acquisitions and communication. The electromagnetic field produced by an antenna
can be constantly present when multiple tags are expected continually. Antennas can be
built into a doorframe to receive tag data from person’s things passing through the door.

Server
The server is the heart of some comprehensive RFID systems. It is the communications gateway among the various components 4. It receives the information from one or more of the readers and exchanges information with the circulation database. Its software includes the SIP/SIP2 (Session Initiation Protocol), APIs (Applications Programming Interface) NCIP (National Circulation Interchange Protocol) or SLNP necessary to interface it with the integrated library software but no library vendor has yet fully implemented NCIP approved by NISO 6. The server typically includes a transaction database so that reports can be produced.

Middleware
RFID middleware is a software layer that connects data coming in from tags (on library items such as books, etc.) and readers, to the library management system. Middleware provides a coherent and stable interface between RFID hardware operations and flow of data elements such as membership number, catalogue number, etc. into the library database. RFID middleware solutions provide messaging, routing, and connectivity features required to integrate RFID data into existing library management system

RFID systems can also be ditinguished by their frequency ranges and applications as given in table 1

Different RFID frequencies and their applications TABLE 1

BAND FREQUENCY
READ
RANGE
APPLICATIONL

LF
100-500 KHz
UP TO 20 INCHES
ACCESS CONTROL, REDER ID, KEYLESS ENTRY

HF
13.56 MHz
UP TO 3 FEET
ACCESS CONTROL, SMART CARD, LIBRARIES, ANTI-THEFT, TAGGING

UHF
866-956 MHz
20 FEET OR MORE
SUPPL CHAIN, BAGGAGE HANDLING, TOLL COLLECTION

MICROWAVE
2.45 GHz
3-10 FEET
ITEM TRACKING, TOLL COLLECTION

Today’s library RFIDs mainly operate in the high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz band, the most widely used of the RFID HF bands because it’s the global standard frequency for contact-less smart labels. These tags have a read range of about 3 feet.

Possible problems:

RFID technology will continuously communicate with the library database, the real danger of merging this technology is in letting secure ILS database be contacted/updated/opened several times and thereby make them prone to hackers.

Some of the technological problems that may occur with RFID applications in libraries are:
RFID tags are not hidden since these tags are typically affixed to the inside back cover and are exposed to vandalism. Some interference from metallic material in book covers, CDs and DVDs does occur and tag reading may not be correct. RFID tags are easy to shield from readers by ordinary aluminum foils and may not serve the purpose of being anti-theft tools. RFID reading accuracy declines if many items are read simultaneously (although collision avoidance air interface protocol may be used to minimize this effect). RFID reader range depends on its power and antenna size

In addition to these technical problems, there may be other difficulties in implementing RFID systems in libraries. Some of these are:

Privacy issues Forward (future) compatibility and inter-library operations due to differences in tags or software Limitations in reorganization of library spaces Metal shelves may hinder operations of readers and sensors Operational difficulties such as installation of return chutes, provision of power supply near the self check-in/check-out desks or chutes Budget restrictions for technology upgradation as RFID tags are more expensive than barcodes and security strips

Conclusion

Today’s library RFIDs mainly operate in the high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHz band and are very suitable for library application since they have longer read ranges, about 3 to 5 feet. Although RFID technology has matured and offers an ideal solution for libraries to replace their EAS and barcode systems for security and theft prevention, the picture is not all that smooth. There are several concerns and some are about patron privacy violations. Large numbers of libraries have gone into RFID tagging for their inventory and have put in place best practices to inform their patrons about the use of technology and protection of their privacy.