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Monday, October 13, 2003

RFID 

I had never really heard of RFID before a few weeks ago, although I found that I was familiar with it once I read some information, since it's absolutely everywhere. It has been around for quite a while, in different iterations. The Association for Automatic Identification and Data Capture Technologies has a good description of what this technology is and can do. There is a journal dedicated to the technology, but it's not free.

So presently, we put barcodes on pretty much everything in libraries, and enhanced RFID technology will be making its way into our buildings, if the increased presence of ads in library journals has anything to do with it. This would be great for enhanced locating of serials in general (however, I don't know of too many places that barcode every issue), and all items in remote storage facilities.

But there is a negative side, as we've seen with library circulation records and the Patriot Act. This article about
RFID technology in supermarkets gives a hint of what this could mean for libraries and our patrons. The thought that comes to my mind is the day when our state/school/etc. IDs are outfitted with this technology, and every time we pick up a product or book that also uses RFID, a connection is made and recorded somewhere. Not by the store or the library, but by the government, perhaps, which is saving all this information about what we're looking at in a big file somewhere. I'm sure this happens to some extent now, and we're completely unaware.

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