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RFID: Challenges for Potential Vendors

by Melanie A. Lyttle and Shawn D. Walsh on April 1, 2014

This could become a commercial because we are so pleased with our RFID vendor, D-Tech, Inc. However, we hope you use these particular RFID challenges as questions you can ask your potential vendors to decide who is best for your RFID needs.

Piles of Discs – It could be a box set of CDs, books on CDs, or a complete television season on DVD, but the problem is the same: too many discs each with a sting ray RFID label, which can overwhelm the RFID reading device. We’re lucky that D-Tech is still trying to work with us to figure out a solution. Right now we’re determining how many discs we can put together before the RFID readers lose count. Perhaps we should hope for everyone to download audiobooks on an MP3 player instead of checking them out from the library? It was already vetoed by the staff that we stop buying complete TV seasons because they think the patrons would complain too much! So our creative staff members are still experimenting to figure out how to get everything to work correctly!

Double-Sided Discs – We never appreciated how many DVDs that we owned were double sided. What a pain! Even worse, we didn’t even realize that there were different media tags other than the full-sized sting rays. Fortunately our vendor, D-Tech, was able to get us hub tags, which are much less commonly used but work perfectly. Wouldn’t you know that some of our most popular DVDs were double-sided? And of course, while we had them pulled for processing, it seemed like those were the only DVDs people wanted to check out!

Dead Tags – We don’t know if all tag providers do this, but at least our tags from D-Tech that come “dead” from the factory have a black square printed on them. It’s approximately 1% of the tags that are dead, and we’re finding that percentage to be high. However, we’ve turned it into a game here, to try to make sure everyone is paying attention and not using bad tags. We stick the bad tags on each other (some proudly, some surreptitiously) and tell people we’re invisible. It’s true. “Dead” tags are invisible to the RFID readers. Some folks on staff have been known to go through most of a roll just to find the dead tags to cover themselves in!

Weird Items – We aren’t sure how many libraries circulate oddly shaped items. In our case, it’s Nintendo DS cartridges. Currently there are no tags that fit on the cartridges, but D-Tech is looking into how to create tags that would work for us. We can’t be the only library with things like this. There’s something that makes us feel good about our vendor trying to help us find a solution to our challenges.

Customer service is a huge part of trying to decide what vendor to go with for RFID. It’s tough to decide who is going to be able to help your library through the joys and challenges of implementing this system. When we did our RFP for RFID vendors, we asked that the vendor include libraries they had worked with previously. We wanted to be able to ask the libraries about how they felt they were treated by the company, and we did. Our vendor got great reviews, and that has been our experience as well.

Good luck on your RFID vendor search and your conversion process!

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