Strategic Selection and Implementation of Technology

I just came back from the California Library Association Annual Conference (which was a big hit, by the way!).  As usual, I made my way through the exhibits talking with the vendors about ongoing projects and how things are going.  This time, I came away a bit frustrated because it seemed like so many AMH and RFID projects appeared to be going a bit awry.

The thing is, projects can go wrong very quickly when libraries pursue complex technology implementations without retaining the connection to the "why" of the project.  In order to successfully roll out a capital-intensive technology project, it is critical to establish a clear objective, or set of priorities, for doing so.  And to continually make choices based on those priorities. 

RFID, GPS, and 3G: Radio Wave Technologies and Privacy

Another issue of Collaborative Librarianship is out and my Technology Matters column is about radio wave technologies and where the biggest privacy concerns really are. Some people refer to RFID chips as "tiny trackers" and that certainly makes them sound creepy. But it could be that the creepiest "tracker" out there is our beloved smartphone!

Here's an excerpt:

It is easy to jump onto the Big Brother bandwagon and wrap everything in tin foil but the fact is that a lot of these technologies improve our lives, even save lives. Also, more and more people appreciate the convenience provided by these various technologies more than they worry about the implications for privacy. It is important, therefore, for librarians to help our patrons become educated consumers so they can make choices that strike the right balance of privacy and convenience for themselves.

RFID: What is it? Where is it going? Is it right for your library?

This one-day presentation and workshop was sponsored by the libraries in SE Wisconsin including Waukesha County Federated Library System and Milwaukee Public, and UW-Milwaukee. The session included a three-hour presentation that introduced RFID technology and then worked through all the issues relevant to libraries considering or using RFID in libraries.

Coming to Milwaukee area June 26th "RFID: What is it? Where is it going? Is it right for your library?"

I'll be at the New Berlin Public Library June 26th to talk about RFID.  AFter the morning session, described below, we'll have a few hours in the afternoon for open discussion.  Members of the Waukesha County Federated Library System, Eastern Shores Library System, Kenosha County Library System, Lakeshores Library System, Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System, Milwaukee County Federated Library System, and also UW-Milwaukee SOIS are invited!

When Will an ILS Vendor Provide an RFID-Enabled Staff Client?

Once your library decides to transition to RFID, one of the first things you have to consider if integration with library management system (LMS aka ILS) and your RFID system. Basic check-out on your self-check machines will probably work just dandy regardless of your RFID/LMS vendors because these communications are usually based on SIP2. But as soon as you get into any advanced functionality (e.g. fee payment, account management) on the self-checks and especially when you get into the functionality of the staff client, it all goes to hell.

When Will an ILS Vendor Provide an RFID-Enabled Staff Client?

Once your library decides to transition to RFID, one of the first things you have to consider is integration with library management system (LMS aka ILS) and your RFID system. Basic check-out on your self-check machines will probably work just dandy regardless of your RFID/LMS vendors because these communications are usually based on SIP2. But as soon as you get into any advanced functionality (e.g. fee payment, account management) on the self-checks and especially when you get into the functionality of the staff client, it all goes to hell.

Free Consulting Available at ALA Chicago

If you are going to ALA in Chicago, you might want to take advantage of free consulting from one of the 15-20 consultants that will be providing free consulting sessions during the Consultants Give Back session.  

Find the consultant who can help you at /.  If you find someone with the right skills for your project, contact them and make an appointment ahead of time. There are some drop-in options but most of the consultants require appointments.

ISO Tags - What Does That Mean?

"ISO tags" can mean a lot of different things. For a long time, when vendors said they had "ISO tags," they meant that the tags comply with ISO-15693 which is a standard that applies to the physical tag itself. That was okay for awhile but now what we are looking for in the physical tag is compliance with ISO 18000-3, Mode 1.  

The reason it is important to specify ISO 18000-3, Mode 1 is because of the Application Family Identifier (AFI).  This is a special register on the tag.  It isn't a field that contains data - I'm not addressing content on the tag in this post.  The AFI register is a special feature of the tag separate from the data elements and the chip itself.  

So, this AFI register is what the ISO 28560 compliant tag uses for security. And security is more broadly defined than you might think.  The AFI, when used properly, indicates that the item to which it is affixed is either a "circulating library item" or a "non-circulating library item."  So, not only does it tell your library security gates to alarm when it sees a noncirculating library item leaving the building, it also ensures that security gates at Kohl's ignore your library books.  Similarly, when someone walks into your library with an item tagged with an ISO 18000-3 tag (and there are lots of other industries that use them), it ensures that your gates don't alarm.