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Libraries are starting to elminate late fees. Does RFID technology play a role?

by Dan Schaefer


I received some great news this week. Our local library is doing away with late fees. Hooray! The purpose? To encourage library participation.This works for me as I’ve racked up some hefty fines there over the years.


How is this possible, though -  to eliminate these pesky fees? It feels as if I personally funded a wing of our library through my late fees alone (ok, that might be a slight exaggeration).


Most libraries today use RFID technology for check-in / check-out purposes. I can take a stack of books and place them in a kiosk. TheRFID tags on the books are read by scanners in the kiosk and voila, I’m ready to check out.


When returning the books, they’re placed on a conveyor and they’re automatically checked back in as they pass by a fixed scanner/portal.


And of course, books within a library are sometimes shelved in the wrong area (I didn’t do it). Rather than being lost for weeks on end, a library attendant can use a handheld scanner to perform a periodic inventory to identify any misplaced books. Prior to using RFID, it could take weeks or months before misplaced books could be found. Today, they can be found within minutes.


Just as in libraries, RFID technology is being used in law,medical, and other offices for check-in / check-out purposes, to perform periodic inventories, and to find missing items. Fixed readers near doorways can also be used to track these items as they pass through.


If you’re considering implementing RFID to track files, IT assets, equipment, pallets or whatever, the three main components you’ll need are:

1) asset tags

2) RFID scanner/readers

3) software to make use of and report on the tag reads.


It’s important to know that not all RFID tags perform the same. Some are better suited for certain environments than others. And,liquids, metals and other material can shield tags from being read at all.


In general, you can expect something in the range of 10x up to 100x or even more time savings by using RFID vs manual processes for tracking. And, if theft is an issue, portals at entry/exit points can identify when a tagged item passed through  – something especially useful if you use security cameras.


Back to the question – why are libraries now eliminating late fees? Could it be that they’re now more efficient by using RFID technology? It’s true that libraries can be much more efficient with RFID technology, however late fees are being eliminated at libraries across the U.S.because it creates goodwill and encourages patrons to use the library more.Thank you libraries for making this fantastic change. It has made my week!

Here at EnaSys we offer a complete RFID asset tracking solution – asset tags, scanners/readers and software. We love providing cost effective solutions to asset tracking challenges. If you’d like to discuss your asset tracking needs, call us today at 800-522-3528 or email


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