RFID: Radio Frequency Identification Technology

Organizations Opposing the Misuse of RFIDs  |  RFID Discussion List  |  News about RFIDs  |  Sources  |  

Implementing RFID Technologies in Libraries: Privacy and Confidentiality Guidelines and Technical and Managerial Aspects

ALA's Library & Information Technology Association (LITA) may be your best source of information on the technical and managerial aspects of implementing RFID technologies in libraries. LITA sponsors RFID Technology Interest Group, a special interest group dedicated to considering just this issue.

Similar resources include Management of RFID in Libraries (Karen Coyle), ALA TechNotes: RFID Technology for Libraries (Richard Boss), and Position Paper: RFID and Libraries (Lori Bowen Ayre; PDF).

For background information, see Jim Lichtenberg's presentation, "RFID at Mid-decade: What have we learned? Where are we going?" (PDF), is available on the OIF Web site.


Organizations Opposing the Misuse of RFIDs

Electronic Frontier Foundation  |  Privacy Rights Clearinghouse  |  World Privacy Forum


RFID Discussion List

RFID_LIB (April 21, 2004), "I [Margaret E. Hazel] am beginning a new discussion list, called RFID_LIB. RFID_LIB is, as far as I know, the first general online email forum for libraries to discuss the uses and implications of using Radio Frequency Identification technology in libraries. RFID is currently a hot topic in the library community as a method of controlling inventory, offering self-check, and using automated materials handling. The technology is developing rapidly, and this is a chance to get in on the ground floor of creating a potentially powerful tool for libraries. There is currently a small variety of vendors offering RFID technology to libraries in the United States and around the world. At the same time, there are public concerns about privacy and health issues, and there are similar technologies being developed in the commercial and defense arenas. This forum offers a chance for librarians to discuss the issues and keep abreast of developments."

Beginning in 2007, the list is now hosted by the Oregon State Library.


News about RFIDS

Radio Frequency Identification and the San Francisco Public Library (PDF; October 2005): ''In early 2004, the  San Francisco Public Library became interested in using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology to achieve a multitude of goals, including reducing repetitive stress injuries, increasing the efficiency of circulation and collection management processes, and improving security. The proposed use of RFID raised significant concern among the public, specifically surrounding privacy, health and cost issues. As a result, the Library Commission created the San Francisco Public Library Technology and Privacy Advisory Committee (LTPAC), whose role would be to explore the technology and privacy issues associated with Library initiatives. The first incarnation of the LTPAC was charged with investigating RFID, generating questions to include in a Request for Information to RFID vendors, and organizing one or more public educational workshops. The Committee began meeting monthly starting in April of 2005. In June of 2005 however, the funds that were earmarked for generating a Request For Information for RFID system vendors was transferred by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to other Library programs. At that point, the LTPAC decided to conclude its work, capturing what had been learned to date in a summary report, which is this document. During its tenure, the LTPAC explored the privacy, health, operational, security, and cost issues associated with using RFID systems in the library setting. Sources of information included library staff, issue experts, articles, vendors and others. The LTPAC considered the potential gain from such a system, as well as the potential risks of integrating RFID into the SFPL. The benefits the Library was hoping to achieve included reducing repetitive stress injuries, creating efficiencies in circulation tasks, redeploying staff to other patron-focused areas, improving collection management, and increasing security. The potential disadvantages that were raised included possible threats to privacy, the cost and uncertainty of the Return On Investment (ROI), the uncertainty of the quality of the performance, and potential effects on staff and patron health. Almost all aspects of RFID in libraries require further investigation, whether those aspects are potential benefits or disadvantages..."

You need not be paranoid to fear RFID, (October 10, 2005), '''I think the shocking part is they've spent the past three years saying, oh no, we'd never do this,' Albrecht said. But instead of taking their word for it, Albrecht and her colleague, former bank examiner Liz McIntyre, began reading everything they could find on the subject. Now they're serving up the scary results of their research in a scathing new book, 'Spychips.'"

Are Book Tags a Threat? (October 4, 2004)

Position Paper: RFID and Libraries (Lori Bowen Ayre; August 19, 2004)

California lawmaker introduces RFID bill (February 25, 2004), "Senate Bill 1834 would apply to any business or state government agency using radio frequency identification (RFID) systems to track merchandize or people an activity that's on the rise. According to people familiar with the technology, state Sen. Debra Bowen is the first legislator in the nation to introduce a bill that seeks to govern the use of RFID, a technology that has sparked controversy since retailers began experiments last year."

RSA polishes RFID shield (February 25, 2004), "The security software maker announces a cloaking technology designed to protect information emitted by radio frequency identification tags."

RFID Implementation in Libraries: Some Recommendations for "Best Practices"  (January 10, 2004)

Position Statement on the Use of RFID on Consumer Products (November 2003), "Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is an item-tagging technology with profound societal implications. Used improperly, RFID has the potential to jeopardize consumer privacy, reduce or eliminate purchasing anonymity, and threaten civil liberties."

RFID and Libraries: Both Sides of the Chip (Karen Schneider; November 19, 2003)

Three R's: Reading, Writing, RFID (October 24, 2003), "Stillman has gone whole-hog for radio-frequency technology, which his year-old Enterprise Charter School started using last month to record the time of day students arrive in the morning. In the next months, he plans to use RFID to track library loans, disciplinary records, cafeteria purchases and visits to the nurse's office. Eventually he'd like to expand the system to track students' punctuality (or lack thereof) for every class and to verify the time they get on and off school buses."

City Library Adopts Controversial RFID Chips (October 10, 2003), "Berkeley librarians insist that embedding their books with a state-of-the-art monitoring device despised by privacy advocates will not grant Big Brother a glimpse at patron’s reading material."

RFID Chips Everywhere (September 6, 2003), "In "Hitachi develops RFID chip for bank notes, documents," IDG News Service said this week that Hitachi has developed a new radio frequency identification (RFID) chip which doesn't needed an external antenna. This opens the possibility to embed these chips into virtually anything, from bank notes to plane tickets. Here is a picture of these RFID chips sitting close to grains of rice (Credit: Hitachi, Ltd.)."

RFID blocker may ease privacy fears (August 28, 2003), "Researchers at a major security firm have developed a blocking technique to ease privacy concerns surrounding controversial radio frequency identification technology."

RFID and the Public Policy Void (August 18, 2003), Testimony by Beth Givens (Privacy Rights Clearinghouse) before the Joint Committee on Preparing California for the 21st Century California Legislature, Senator Debra Bowen, Chair

RFID Will Stop Terrorists (August 8, 2003), "Facing increasing resistance and concerns about privacy, the United States' largest food companies and retailers will try to win consumer approval for radio identification devices by portraying the technology as an essential tool for keeping the nation's food supply safe from terrorists."

RFID Chips Are Here (June 27, 2003), "I'm here to tell you that the bar code's days are numbered. There's a new technology in town, one that at first blush might seem insignificant to security professionals, but it's a technology that is going to be a big part of our future. And how do I know this? Pin it on Wal-Mart again; they're the big push behind this new technology. So what is it? RFID tags."



BISG Policy Statement: Policy #002: RFID - Radio Frequency Identification Privacy Principles (PDF)

RFID: A Brief Bibliography (ALA)

Intellectual Freedom IssuesPrivacy Tool Kit, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), "Radio frequency identification (RFID) first appeared in tracking and access applications during the 1980s. These wireless AIDC systems allow for non-contact reading and are effective in manufacturing and other hostile environments where bar code labels could not survive. RFID has established itself in a wide range of markets including livestock identification and automated vehicle identification (AVI) systems because of its ability to track moving objects."

RFID Journal, "RFID Journal is an independent, online daily devoted to one thing: educating business people about radio frequency identification and its many business applications."

Bibliothese RFID Library Systems, "The BiblioChip™ RFID library system greatly improves circulation productivity and security while simplifying patron self check-out and self check-in. One of the biggest benefits of the BiblioChip™ Library System is that it allows the library staff more time to assist patrons, which greatly improves their overall library experience."

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Systems (EPIC; Electronic Privacy Information Center), By Katherine Albrecht, the Founder of CASPIAN, "RFID would expand marketers' ability to monitor individuals' behavior to undreamt of extremes. With corporate sponsors like Wal-Mart, Target, the Food Marketing Institute, Home Depot, and British supermarket chain Tesco, as well as some of the world's largest consumer goods manufacturers including Proctor and Gamble, Phillip Morris, and Coca Cola it may not be long before RFID-based surveillance tags begin appearing in every store-bought item in a consumer's home."