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RFID and Libraries: Home

Radio frequency identification and how it is used and discussed in libraries.

ALA Library Fact Sheet 25

What is RFID? RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification.

As explained on the Frequently Asked Questions page of the web site for the RFID Journal, Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, is "a generic term for technologies that use radio waves to automatically identify individual items." RFID has been evolving into a more effective, convenient, and cost-efficient technology since World War II. American companies, especially those in the automotive, packaging and handling, and retail industries, began to integrate RFID technology into the structure of their businesses in the late 1990s. In 2000, several libraries around the world announced their intent to integrate RFID technology into their library systems, pioneering its use for contemporary library functions.

In 2012, the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) published a Recommended Practice entitled RFID in U.S. Libraries. This publication reflects changes in technology, security, and privacy measures, and suggests a common set of data elements to be placed on library tags in the U.S., in addition to preferred encoding and formatting of that data. 

ALA Resources on RFID

Magi, Trina and Martin Garner. "RFID in Libraries - Privacy and Confidentiality Guidelines." In A History of the ALA Policy on Intellectual Freedom, edited by Trina Magi and Martin Garner, 233-239. Chicago: ALA Editions, 2015.

ALA Publications about RFID


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