AC Library Upgrades Technology to Improve Library Lending

AC Library will install Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology that will improve library lending and inventory management to better serve our communities.

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?

We anticipate that RFID technology will be available at all AC Libraries by February 2024. 

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. Currently each item must be scanned individually at checkout, but with RFID, an entire stack of books can be scanned at one time.
  • With quicker checkout 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 (checkout and check-in) far more efficiently.
  • RFID can tell members and staff if all components of audiovisual materials are present in a case without having to open it, saving wear-and-tear on cases and preventing injury to hands and wrists.
  • Simpler processing minimizes unnecessary repetitive motion by staff, decreasing the risk of workplace injuries.
  • 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 cover of 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 pieces of the library collection (books and media) will be RFID tagged; member library cards will not be RFID tagged so there will be no RFID tracking of a members’ reading habits or borrowing history. Library cards will continue to function as machine-readable barcodes.
  • RFID tags on books and 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.
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