AC Library is upgrading its self-checkout machines with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for a quicker checkout experience. Self-checkout machines equipped with RFID technology will be available at all AC Library locations by February 2024. RFID technology scans multiple items at once. Instead of scanning items one by one, members can place up to four items on the self-check pads, and they will scan automatically.
Here’s how the new self-checkout machines work:
Scan the barcode on your library card.
Place up to four items on the pad.
Select finish and choose your receipt.
Coming late this year, several libraries will install automated self-check-in systems that will allow members to check in their materials and have an option to print a receipt for their check-ins.
These upgrades are made possible with the installation of RFID technology. Read our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about RFID technology and how it will improve library lending and inventory management.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Radio Frequency Identification?
RFID technology has become a library standard. More than 75% of Bay Area public libraries use this technology, including our neighbors in San Francisco, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Contra Costa County, San Leandro, Pleasanton, and many others in the Bay Area. RFID technology provides greater shelf-reading and inventory accuracy. Library members will experience speedier checkout times and reduced wait times for popular materials.
How Does Radio Frequency Identification Work?
RFID technology involves tags and readers. RFID tags are placed on library materials. These tags transmit an item's barcode and availability (checked out or not) when scanned by an RFID reader. Readers are placed at self-checkout machines, check-in desks, and Automatic Library Materials Handling Systems (AMH).
When Will Radio Frequency Identification be Available?
Self-checkout machines equipped with RFID technology will be available at all AC Library locations by February 2024. Several libraries will install automated self-check-in systems late this year.
Benefits to Library Members
- With RFID, library materials will move through the library system, from shelf to checkout, more quickly.
- Library members check out dozens of books at a time. Previously each item had to be scanned individually at checkout, but with self-checkout machines equipped with RFID, an entire stack of books can be scanned at once.
- With quicker check out and check in times, the library’s collections will be on the shelves faster and holds will arrive at members’ selected libraries sooner.
Benefits to Library Staff
- Because RFID does not require exact placement of items, staff can process materials (check out and check in) more efficiently while minimizing unnecessary repetitive motion.
- RFID can tell members and staff if a single disc is present inside of an audiovisual case without having to open it, saving wear-and-tear on cases and preventing injury to hands and wrists.
- RFID allows for faster, more accurate inventory, helping staff to identify missing items so they can be found or replaced more quickly.
There are only two pieces of information stored on the RFID tag placed on each item in the library’s collection:
- The 14-digit barcode number that uniquely identifies the item (already present on the barcode sticker affixed to each item). No bibliographic information (title, author, etc.) will be on an RFID tag.
- The security component, which tells an RFID reader if the item is checked out or not.
- Only library materials (books and media) are RFID tagged; member library cards are not RFID tagged so there will be no RFID tracking of a members’ activity. Library cards will continue to function as machine-readable barcodes.
- RFID tags on library materials can only be read within a range of 40 inches of an RFID reader.
- The Library is following the 2012 RFID privacy guidelines recommended by the American Library Association and the National Information Standards Organization, a nonprofit organization founded in 1939, which develops, maintains and issues technical standards related to publishing, bibliographic and library applications. These guidelines are available at https://www.niso.org/standards-committees/rfid-libraries-revision.