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Leeward Community College

Staff doing RFID conversion work

RFID Conversion Project


RFID’ing in the Library

The Library is implementing a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) theft detection system for materials. In September, library staff and librarians began the conversion process, which involves pulling books off the shelves and affixing RFID tags to each book. Each RFID tag is encoded with a book’s barcode number, format type, and the library’s unique OCLC code. Tagged books are then returned to the shelf. With over 46,000 individual books in our collection, we estimate that the conversion process will be completed in the late spring or summer of 2023. 

Benefits of RFID

  • Faster, more accurate transactions. Multiple items can be checked out simultaneously.
  • Fewer false alarms. No more missed items triggering the gate alarm or false alarms.
  • Improved inventory and collection management. Staff will be able to inventory the collection by walking the stacks and waving an inventory wand, automatically collecting the encoded information on the RFID tags using radio waves, and eliminating the need to manually scan each book.
  • Reduction of repetitive stress injuries. Minimizing staff handling of materials during check-out and check-in processes decreases the potential for staff injury. Automating inventory and collection maintenance tasks will further reduce repetitive stress injuries.
  • Better customer experience. Accurately shelved books, faster checkouts, fewer false alarms.

Concerns with RFID

  • Patron privacy. RFID tags are encoded with the item barcode, format type, and the library’s unique OCLC code. No patron data is encoded.
  • Health and safety. High-frequency RFID tags meet European standard EN 50364, limiting human exposure to electromagnetic fields. Exposure levels are lower than common devices such as mobile phones. 

With RFID, books will be accurately shelved and readily available for patrons to find and use. Improved efficiencies by eliminating manual tasks and processes will allow library staff to dedicate more time to supporting our students, faculty, and staff.

Leeward is one of only two UH System libraries undertaking an RFID conversion project. The other library is the Lono me Laka Resource Center at the Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies.



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