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Nov 7, 2013
I just came back from the California Library Association Annual Conference (which was a big hit, by the way!). As usual, I made my way through the exhibits talking with the vendors about ongoing projects and how things are going. This time, I came away a bit frustrated because it seemed like so many AMH and RFID projects appeared to be going a bit awry.
The thing is, projects can go wrong very quickly when libraries pursue complex technology implementations without retaining the connection to the "why" of the project. In order to successfully roll out a capital-intensive technology project, it is critical to establish a clear objective, or set of priorities, for doing so. And to continually make choices based on those priorities.
Oct 22, 2013
Another issue of Collaborative Librarianship is out and my Technology Matters column is about radio wave technologies and where the biggest privacy concerns really are. Some people refer to RFID chips as "tiny trackers" and that certainly makes them sound creepy. But it could be that the creepiest "tracker" out there is our beloved smartphone!
Here's an excerpt:
It is easy to jump onto the Big Brother bandwagon and wrap everything in tin foil but the fact is that a lot of these technologies improve our lives, even save lives. Also, more and more people appreciate the convenience provided by these various technologies more than they worry about the implications for privacy. It is important, therefore, for librarians to help our patrons become educated consumers so they can make choices that strike the right balance of privacy and convenience for themselves.
Sep 8, 2013
Is someone looking into the idea of using the Apple "Complete my Album" idea for enticing readers to buy e-books? If so, I haven't seen it yet but there's a LOT of ebooks stuff to read if you are really trying to stay on top of the issue. You could start with "68 essential resources for eBooks in libraries by Ellyssa Kroski." And I confess I'm not following the topic as closely as some others do.
Jun 20, 2013
Attached is a nice little article from CIO magazine about King County Library System's move from Innovative to Evergreen, their challenges, and the solutions they've employed. Here's the article.
Catalyst is interested in doing more work with libraries and now that they have some experience with Evergreen doing development and support, I imagine they'd like to get more customers on that platform.
Jun 9, 2013
I'll be at the New Berlin Public Library June 26th to talk about RFID. AFter the morning session, described below, we'll have a few hours in the afternoon for open discussion. Members of the Waukesha County Federated Library System, Eastern Shores Library System, Kenosha County Library System, Lakeshores Library System, Mid-Wisconsin Federated Library System, Milwaukee County Federated Library System, and also UW-Milwaukee SOIS are invited!
Jun 4, 2013
Once your library decides to transition to RFID, one of the first things you have to consider if integration with library management system (LMS aka ILS) and your RFID system. Basic check-out on your self-check machines will probably work just dandy regardless of your RFID/LMS vendors because these communications are usually based on SIP2. But as soon as you get into any advanced functionality (e.g. fee payment, account management) on the self-checks and especially when you get into the functionality of the staff client, it all goes to hell.
Jun 4, 2013
Once your library decides to transition to RFID, one of the first things you have to consider is integration with library management system (LMS aka ILS) and your RFID system. Basic check-out on your self-check machines will probably work just dandy regardless of your RFID/LMS vendors because these communications are usually based on SIP2. But as soon as you get into any advanced functionality (e.g. fee payment, account management) on the self-checks and especially when you get into the functionality of the staff client, it all goes to hell.
Jun 3, 2013
If you are going to ALA in Chicago, you might want to take advantage of free consulting from one of the 15-20 consultants that will be providing free consulting sessions during the Consultants Give Back session.
Find the consultant who can help you at /. If you find someone with the right skills for your project, contact them and make an appointment ahead of time. There are some drop-in options but most of the consultants require appointments.
May 14, 2013
My role as a library RFID consultant is to advocate for the library at several levels. The most obvious way is to work directly with a library - ideally starting when RFID is just a twinkle in their eye. I help them understand what the technology does and doesn't do and what they need to think about as they move forward. The engagement might start early and go all the way through implementation. Or it could just be for some of the pieces along the way. Ideally, I work with the library on the procurement so I can help ensure that they are asking for the things that are most important like standards compliance and performance guarantees, and that the library is addressing their own needs and not just using some raggedy 'ol RFID RFP they found online somewhere.
I like to work with libraries on the demo portion of the procurement too. This is where the rubber meets the road. I've seen good vendors go down in flames at demos. So, it is important to have a solid balance of a good procurement document and a demanding demo.
But you can't always get hired by the library. So, I try to talk about RFID issues whenever I can to help get the information out. Webinars, conferences, and any other place where two or more librarians gather..... I write about it and sometimes get paid for the writing. Most often not.
The second kind of library advocacy I do is with the vendors. The only way for me to provide good information to libraries is to really know the vendors. To that end, I've visited 3M, Bibliotheca, Tech-Logic and Lyngsoe offices and gotten tours of many of their installations. I didn't see the HQ but I did get a nice tour from D-Tech as well. I also make a point of visiting these vendors as well as some of the other players I haven't had a chance to visit yet like Envisionware and MK Sorting to find out what their latest offerings are, what issues they are encountering, and how they are handling issues of concern to me.
In addition to learning about their products, I also share what I see in the libraries. I talk about what is or isn't working, what new product ideas I've got and wish they would develop, and I give them any feedback I can that might make them a better provider to libraries. I see that as an important aspect of my library advocacy as well.
The third kind of advocacy I do is on the standards front. Before the RFID data model was announced last year, I had a lot of back channel conversations with other people involved in library RFID standards. During this time, I developed some very important relationships with my counterparts in other parts of the world: Mick Fortune and Alan Butters. Both of these men are RFID consultants. Mick in the UK and Alan in Australia. The UK and Australian libraries settled on a data model long before NISO did here in the US. And we are all using the same basic approach (ISO 28560-2) so I have been able to benefit enormously from their work.
The three of us share the belief that RFID standards are good for libraries because they make interoperability possible (ideally) and provide a level of security for libraries (hopefully)....the theory being that standards are generally very thoroughly vetted before being finalized. So, libraries that utilize standards are less likely to get caught having made any real big mistakes. As such, we all take our role in the standards process very seriously and we struggle to understand the technology (some of us struggle more than others....) but none of us are engineeers so this isn't always easy. Still, each of us has deepened our knowledge of the technology significantly over the years in order to keep abreast of the issues and to offer opinions to key players in the RFID marketplace.
I joined the NCIP Standing Committee in order to more effectively lobby on behalf of RFID standards. As I've noted, my warm reception to that committee has been a great relief and I feel confident that my contributions there will be meaningful. In fact, I think I've already made a big difference. And while working on that committee, I'm also working closely with Mick and Alan to make sure we are a united front. They work on other standards bodies. All in all, I feel it's a great responsibility and a privilege to be in this unique role.
May 7, 2013
If you haven't signed that RFID contract yet, you may want to set down your pen and check one thing....is the chip in your vendor's RFID tag capable of locking and password-protecting your content as well as the AFI and EAS registers? If not, don't sign that contract. Here's why....