RFID Utilization in Public University Libraries in Jordan

RFID Utilization in Public University Libraries in Jordan

Emad Abu-Shanab (MIS Department, Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan) and Emad Yamin (Al-Husaynieh Library, Yarmouk University, Irbid, Jordan)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJDLS.2014070103
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RFID technology can help libraries overcome challenges like finding, sorting and discovering misplaced books. The applicability of this technology and its perceived contribution are questioned. This paper conducted an empirical test to explore employees' perceptions regarding the implementation of RFID in libraries. This paper utilized data collected in two public university libraries in Jordan. The method focused on descriptive measures to investigate the adoption of such technology. The study compared perspectives of managers and employees in regard to the benefits of RFID compared to barcode. This exploratory research concluded that no significant difference exists between managers and employees perceptions. Results emphasized RFID's contribution in inventory counting, self-lending, and material tracking; RFID is better than barcode with respect to its tracking capabilities, multiple lending options, and faster and more accurate operations. Finally, RFID cost, tag size and unemployment effect were major concerns.
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1. Introduction

Mobile applications (wireless) are becoming more and more popular because they support remote employees and provide a convenient service to both organizations and customers. Using technology is not a necessity for supporting business activities, but a strategic advantage that distinguishes excellent business from their competitors. Based on that, the use of radio frequency identification (RFID) technology in business is becoming more popular. RFID is a technology that supports supply chain activities and promotes information for diverse business activities. It is a wireless technology used to track items (products), and store data that can be used to identify objects uniquely. RFID uses radio waves for transmission of data between information ports using Electronic Product Code (EPC).

Shang-ping et al. (2011), asserted that RFID is one of the ten most important technologies developed at the end of the twentieth century, due to the efficiency and capacity of work processes. Rezwan (2011) supported the general definition of RFID as a tool of identification and tracking of an object, an animal or a product through the use of radio signals. It uses a tag to do that, and the tag information can be saved and circulated in addition to the ability to measure some data such as temperature or light extent.

Public libraries are facing the challenge of keeping operating budgets low and the efficiency of their operations in a competitive level. One of the most recent RFID applications can be found in library systems. RFID is a promising technology where books can have an embedded RFID chip with substantial data size. The advantages of RFID over barcode or other technologies (like the magnetic strip) can be seen from several viewpoints that would be reviewed later in this paper (Abu-Shanab, 2013). RFID helps staff speed up inventory management process, reduce human errors and increase the accuracy of inventory records. RFID tags can be read easily as borrowers can check out several books at one scan. Also, the process of counting shelf contents within seconds will reduce the time of ‘‘shelf-reading’’ and other inventory activities. Smart Shelves can be used to pinpoint the exact location of books reducing the cost of misplaced or lost books (Zhu, Mukhopadhyay & Kurata, 2012).

One of the largest RFID implementation in the academic library systems is the University of Hong Kong Library. The library has over 1.2 million library items containing RFID tags (Yen & Shiu, 2009). On the other hand, the largest implementation in a public institution is installed in the Seattle Public Library system in the USA. Based on this it is important to understand this technology, explore its benefits and downsides, and learn from the reported success stories.

This paper had two major objectives: first, review the literature to introduce RFID technology, explore the advantages and disadvantages of RFID application, and describe the ethical issues related to implementing it in libraries. Second, this paper will conduct an empirical test to explore employees’ perceptions in regard to the implementation of RFID in libraries. This paper utilized data collected using two surveys distributed on employees and administrators in two public university libraries in Jordan. Finally, conclusions and future recommendations are stated at the end.

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