First responses to this year’s survey

surveyThanks to everybody who has completed the survey so far – and especially those who took the time to offer suggestions for improving future surveys.

Somewhat to my surprise there still seems to be a lack of understanding of some aspects of RFID so I thought it might be useful to explain their significance here.

The frequency being used by the chosen supplier still puzzles many of my respondents. The majority report using HF 13.56MHz – the standard most frequently recommended in Europe, Australia and New Zealand and North America and the one that supports the data models in use in the UK, much of Europe and most of North America. A few report using UHF – generally more popular in Asia but quite a few have no idea which they are using.

Why does frequency matter? There are a number of operational reasons – many have been extensively discussed elsewhere on this blog so I won’t repeat them here – but probably the main thing to remember is that UHF tags cannot be read by HF equipment – or vice versa. So your future choice of supplier might be severely limited.

My reason for asking the question is to try and establish the extent to which UHF – gaining popularity in India, China and Japan (despite being the older of the two technologies) – is penetrating those markets currently dominated by HF solutions. Since UHF systems have only very recently become capable of supporting anything other than a single ID their use in conjunction with ILS/LMS/ILMS systems is very limited. Additionally, they cannot communicate with NFC devices – a technology I expect to become more widely used in conjunction with RFID over the coming years.

A respondent from North America expresses regret that they are still unable to use smartphones to issue stock – a possibility that has so far failed to excite the interest of supplier selling expensive self-service kiosks for some reason. The good news is that I know of at least two European universities that have developed this capability themselves and may well release products in the coming year.

Another, from closer to home in the UK, complains about the restrictions of SIP2, preventing them from developing more modern library services. This reply I found particularly heartening for two reasons. First, because it came from a public library – a cause dear to my heart and secondly because it suggests that the work I’ve been doing with RFID and LMS suppliers for the past four years to replace SIP2 with something more useful is worthwhile. The Library Communication Framework – which seeks both to extend interoperability and make the development of new services much easier – is also extensively discussed on this blog – search for LCF.

So far no-one has reported using their self-service devices for anything other than library work although one respondent (from a university) did acknowledge the possibility in their comment:

“Our RFID supplier has added all manner of bells and whistles to the kiosks’ capability but we aren’t interested in that.”

I’m looking forward to hearing from a library that is using kiosks for other purposes – Lambeth perhaps?

(The survey of RFID use in libraries runs until November 15th 2016. You can contribute here.)

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