Brash Jobs: RFID and Inventory Has Begun!

Hey Friends!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Labor Day weekend, because this week is ALL about the Labor!

As I mentioned in a previous post, my library would be performing inventory for our branches and tagging our collection with RFID tags.

If you’ve been following me on my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, then you’ve already started to see my progress videos on how it’s going.


That’s really cool! I’m a little lost though, what’s this RFID thing?”

Fair question! Radio-frequency identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields and radio waves to automatically identify and track tags that contain electronically stored information. “Active” tags have a local power source like a battery and can still work from several hundred yards away. “Passive” tags just use ambient energy via radio waves from a close range RFID reader, and are the ones most libraries and retail stores use. Since it doesn’t need to be scanned like a barcode, RFID tags can be put inside the book, DVD, audio book, or any other object. 

RFID tags are used in many industries now. Like I said above, passive tags are great for retail stores. Some can get more technical like an RFID tag slapped on a car during to track its progress through the assembly line and warehouse; a Pfizer warehouse with RFID-tagged pharmaceuticals or can be tracked as it ships, just like Amazon does with its products. Got a dog or cat you had micro-chipped in case they went missing? That’s RFID, too.

“Hmmm, interesting. So what’s the actual process for getting it done?”

Well, it’s a fairly straight-forward process:

  1. Place an RFID tag inside the book.
  2. Scan the barcode to bring up the book’s information.
  3. Place the book on the RFID pad so the pad can program the corresponding information onto the RFID tag.

The original plan was to separate into 3-person teams as such:

  • One person grabs and opens the book
  • The second person tags it
  • The third person scans the barcode and programs the tag.

However, we brought in an RFID expert who has done this kind of collection conversion several times and recommended breaking the teams up and having everyone focus on one thing, as the assembly-line style is apparently slower. So to sum up his plan:

  • Start with one side of the library to tag and work your way over to the other side, tagging everything first
  • After about half the library is tagged or you’ve tagged an entire section (e.g. Fiction, Nonfiction, etc), half the people can keep tagging while the other half begin scanning barcodes and programming tags. They start on the same side and begin working their way across the library. By the time the last of the books are tagged, about half the books should be scanned and programmed by then.

As we go along, I’ll be covering any problems, questions, issues, observations and other things we encountered along the process. Got any questions about the process so far? Ask me on here, Instagram, Facebook or Twitter!

After we finish this branch, we have another next week. If you need me, you know where I’ll be!

Justin Brasher, Brash Librarian

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