One Equity Partners sells Smartrac RFID business - What does this mean for libraries? And Bibliotheca?

It's been awhile since something shook up the library RFID marketplace but this is something to watch. Smartrac,Technologies, based in the Netherlands, is one of the primary suppliers of library RFID tags (HF tags). One Equity Partners is the equity firm that owns Smartrac.  One Equity Partners is the same firm that owns Bibliotheca.  So, that means that One Equity Partners is getting out of the RFID business.  My question is whether that means One Equity Partner will soon want to get out of the library business as well?  I say this because Bibliotheca was originally very much focused on providing RFID solutions to libraries. Of course, with the acquisition of 3M, they have shifted their focus from RFID (to some extent) to the Cloud Library and more recently they've been pushing their Open Library product pretty hard - neither of these two products are RFID-based.  So maybe I'm worrying for nothing. But I'll be keeping an eye on One Equity Partners just in case.

The other worrying thing for me is that HF RFID technology isn't exploding the way UHF technology is.  HF technology is used in payment cards, ticketing systems, and libraries. NFC (used on your smartphone) is a form of HF RFID.  But it is UHF that is growing by leaps and bounds.  UHF RFID is used with IoT products (Internet of Things) including clothing and shoes (https://www.nanalyze.com/2019/02/smart-shoes-digitally-connected/). And, of course, UHF is the RFID tag used in the supply chain.  Whatever cool new "smart" thing you hear about, chances are it is based on UHF technologies. 

WiFi Hot Spots Available for Check-out

Two Galecia clients (possibly more!) are now offering mobile hotspots that patrons can borrow. These hotspots come with an unlimited plan so you can take them anywhere and get connected to the Internet.  Both libraries report the new service is wildly popular!

Sonoma County Library Home Page 

Sonoma County Library (https://sonomalibrary.org/) has 500 units available.  Their program, SonomaFi, is a pilot program so far.  Funded from Measure Y sales tax funds. The service provider is Verizon.  Each hotspot is available for 14 days and if the borrower neglects to return it, the service is deactivated (which evidently helps get the units returned promptly!)  

Sonoma County has also created an excellent video showing patrons how to use their HotSpots - check out the nice cases that are included!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AawPH22CibE&feature=youtu.be

 

Charleston County (https://www.ccpl.org) is offering the same program but with service from Sprint. So far no groovy videos. Their program is courtesy of a grant from the South Carolina State Library.

 

Bookpoints - Podcast with ByWater Solutions about our Open Source Summer Reading Software

My pals at ByWater Solutions invited me to talk about our open source summer reading software, Bookpoints. Jessamyn West has been working with us as we complete our 2017 version of the software so I invited her to join me so we could all have an open source love fest.  Listen to the podcast here:  http://libraryisopen.com/bookpoints-podcast/.

And if you've never heard of Bookpoints....well!  It's the summer reading program software we created in partnership with California Library Association and Library of Virginia.  It is inspired by the good work of Maricopa County's Great Reading Adventure (GRA). We are hosting around 25 libraries in California who will be using Bookpoints for the second year.  Library of Virginia hosting another cohort that has also been working with us since the early GRA days. Our project page is readingbydesign.org.

Are 2x3 RFID tags better than 2x2 tags?

Thought I'd share this Q&A I had with someone via email in case you have the same question!  - Lori

Q: I am struggling to find data comparing the performances of  the 2" square tags vs. the 2"x 3" tags. Are you aware of any studies comparing the two?
I've heard anecdotal evidence from a nearby college that the 2x3 tags are significantly better [they abandoned using the squares altogether] but I'm not finding much on the topic.

Many thanks for any information your can share.

A:  The general rule of thumb is that the larger the antenna, the longer the range.  So the 2x3 is going to give you a bit better performance than the 2x2 since the antenna actually runs around the other edge of the tag. 

There are two reasons you might prefer a 2x2 tag despite the inferior performance:

1) they obscure less of the cover art 

2) with DVDs in cases where you want to pair the tag on the case and the full coverage tag on the disc (e.g. X-Range or Stingray tag). Because the disc tag is about the same size as the disc, it leaves little room to add a tag on the case without having the two tags overlapping (which causes interference).  So, using a square tag in the corner in combination with the full coverage disc tag works best. Tagging this way is recommended since you can use the RFID system to verify that the right disc is in the right case thereby reducing the need to open the case.

Lori Ayre's Post Election Thoughts

Today I have done a lot of reading and soul searching. Here's where I've landed so far:

This election had a large racist component and it was at least partially a backlash to President Obama.

This election was a flail on the part of rural Americans who feel no one cares about them and their concerns and that America doesn't understand nor respect the institutions that underpin their communities.

 

Collaborative Librarianship Gets a Much Needed Facelift

I've been writing the Technology Matters column for the online journal, Collaborative Librarianship, for the last few years.  It is a good way to force me to organize my thoughts. I try to post the columns here but they don't always make it so if you want to read them all, I encourage you to visit the groovy new website.  

Librarians and Wikipedia - Get Together!

A few years ago, I participated in the PLA Technology Commitee. They were contemplating the future of the PLA Tech Notes. I suggested that we should discontinue the PLA Tech Notes and instead update the Wikipedia entries on those topics that were of interest to libraries. That way we'd contribute valuable content to Wikipedia on technology if there wasn't anything useful there yet.  And if there was something there already, we could supplement the entry and describe the library application of that technology.  Seemed to me to be a great idea and much better than spending a bunch of money having someone right up an article that would then be hidden deep in the bowels of ALA/PLA website where the info would be hard to find, never updated, and where it would quickly become inaccurate (without anyone who happened to bump into it knowing the difference).

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. 

From Transaction to Transformation: Seizing the Opportunity of an RFID Implementation (webinar)

Come join me for this webinar on April 27, 2016 from 2:00pm-3:00pm EST.  Register Here

Description

ALA President Sari Feldman's new Libraries Transform campaign communicates that libraries are more than places where circulation transactions take place, libraries can be transformative. And technologies like RFID, automated materials handling and self-service technologies are the tools that increase opportunities for libraries to provide enriching experiences to their communities.

Although RFID projects involve technical hurdles, they can be a fantastic opportunity to transform library services! If libraries only install the technology without changing how they use staff, they miss the chance to change the dynamics of patron-staff interaction.