Where Does This Book Belong? Let the Patron Decide.

In this article, I propose a way we could apply a living, breathing, context-sensitive classification system to parts of our collection instead of basing the organization of physical items on the static, subjective and sometimes arbitrary classification system.

I was inspired by a book I read called The Dynamic Library: Organizing Knowledge at the Sitterwerk – Precedents and Possibilities.  The book is a collection of essays from a symposium held in Sitterwerk, Switzerland in 2011. At the symposium, participants explored classification systems and new orders of knowledge in the context of an art collection.

As they noted in the book, the primary purpose of classification systems is to assign a place for a book so that it can then be found. Most classification systems we are familiar with such as the Dewey Decimal Classification System (DDC), LCC (Library of Congress Classification), UDC (Universal Classification System) and BISAC (Book Industry Standards and Communications) support this primary purpose and also support serendipitous discovery by organizing related things together.  

However, the person browsing the physical shelves will only enjoy the serendipitous benefit from one of the subject headings associated with an item. So, for example, I might not find that book about scientific breakthroughs by lesbians because the book would have to be placed in either the 509.2 Dewey range (with science) or possibly somewhere in the 306.7663  (with lesbians) but it wouldn’t be in both places.   And if you were looking for a book about Islamic lesbian scientists, you’d really have a hard time because many of the classifications systems are still struggling with how to incorporate material about Islam. 

Case Studies Demonstrating RFID, Self-Check and Materials Handling Best Practices

One of my clients requested that I put together some case studies that would demonstrate Best Practices for implementing RFID, self-check, and automated materials handling. I was able to put together two excellent examples of how to do it right. 

Johnson County Case Study

This case study was written based on a document prepared by JCL staff after their RFID implementation. It was their own evaluation of the process so it includes a description of things they did right and what they could have done better.  It provides great information on how to plan and manage the implementation and includes useful and impressive outcome metrics.

MidContinent Library System Case Study

This case study was written based on telephone interviews with the staff.  They describe another excellent process for implementing automated materials handling and then RFID and self-check. Even though I recommend implementing RFID before AMH, this process worked well for them and they are now achieving 90% self-check use systemwide. 

Feasibility Analysis and Procurement for Central Automated Materials Handling for Couriers

Peninsula Library System (PLS) is a consortium of nine libraries providing. PLS hosts a shared integrated library system (Sierra) and provides delivery services to 41 locations daily. PLS asked Lori Ayre to provide a feasibility analysis for implementing an automated materials handling system to replace the manual sorting done by couriers.  

Ayre evaluated the delivery volume, materials movement patterns, courier sorting, presorting done at the libraries, delivery turnaround times, and other aspects of the operation.  She provided the PLS Council with several options for consideration including adding a smaller sorter that would operate two waves of sorting, a larger sorter for sorting all material in one wave, providing batch check-in of incoming deliveries at the libraries, and adding an additional delivery day on the weekends.

Charleston County Public Library RFID and AMH Consultation

Working with CCPL, Charleston County, and the architects involved in CCPL's Capital Improvement Project to address the Library’s building and technological deficiencies. The architectural team's contract is to include full programming for the new library facilities plus an administrative/support facility and partial or limited programming for other renovated facilities. The Galecia Group's scope of work includes providing guide specifications for RFID, automated materials handling, and self-service technologies that will apply to all the renovated and new libraries. 

RFID and Automated Materials Handling Consultation for LINCC Consortium

Working with LINCC to assess materials handling processes, systems, and facilities at member library locations as well as LINCC headquarters. Scope of work includes facilitating a process to guide procurement decisions, making recommendations related to implementing RFID and AMH as a cooperative and guiding the procurement process starting with drafting the RFP and concluding with a negotiated contract with vendor(s).

Library Communication Framework Launched with Support of 3M, Bibliotheca, D-Tech, Innovative and SirsiDynix

BIC (Book Industry Communication) today officially launched the Library Communication Framework (LCF).  BIC is an independent UK organization that is "all about the book supply chain - both physical and digital, in retail and in libraries."  

Why should we care about something that BIC launches?  We should care because we all share many ILS and RFID vendors including 3M, Bibliotheca, D-Tech, Innovative and SirsiDynix.  And all of these vendors (and more) have signed on, and we want to support them for doing so while making sure they follow through with that commitment.

Library RFID and AMH Consultation

Wide range of consulting services related to RFID and automated materials handling including analysis of 33 of the Library’s 37 outlets, recommendations for AMH configurations at each location as well as identification of impediments to using AMH or RFID, cost-benefit analyses, market analysis of RFID and AMH vendors, case studies demonstrating best practices, and presentation of findings from study and recommendations.

RFID and Materials Handling Consultation and Procurement

Consultation with Carlsbad City Library to evaluate their three branches for the purpose of upgrading their RFID and materials handling system. They had legacy tags (not compliant with current standards) and a very old sorter at one location. They were looking for help with options for upgrading their system while preserving their investment as much as possible.  

RFID and AMH in Libraries: State of the Art

Since the late 1980’s, libraries have been slowly adopting RFID (radio frequency identification) technology as a supplement to barcodes for library material identification and also as a way to replace legacy EM (electro-magnetic) security technologies (e.g. security strips).   RFID provides a single system for efficiently checking in, checking out, and securing library material and because it is based on radiowave technology, it does not require line-of-sight.  Unlike barcodes, which must be scanned one a time, multiple RFID-tagged items can be set on an RFID pad and checked in or checked out.

RFID helps staff work faster and more ergonomically than one-at-a-time barcode systems.  RFID  is also easier for patrons to use at the self-check-out machines.  Not only can staff and patrons check-out multiple items at a time, patrons are also less likely to be confused by the self-check-out process (e.g. distinguishing between barcodes and ISBN tags).

Although there are several benefits to using RFID, adoption has been slow because of the cost of implementing RFID systems and also because the technology was lacking key standards that made investing in RFID somewhat risky – until fairly recently.