Utilizing Radio Frequency Identification in Libraries: The Case of Qatar

Utilizing Radio Frequency Identification in Libraries: The Case of Qatar

Parameshwar Ganapathi (Qatar University, Doha, Qatar) and Emad Ahmed Abu-Shanab (Qatar University, Doha, Qatar)
DOI: 10.4018/IJPADA.2019100102
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Nowadays, RFID technology is widely being used in libraries across the world. This study is in line with global literature pertaining to the implementation of RFID technology in libraries and intends to explore and examine the perceptions of employees from two libraries in Qatar. Data was collected from both staff and managers using two separate surveys. The perceptions of both sets of employees were analyzed and compared to highlight the differences in benefits, drawbacks, and issues concerning the implementation of RFID in contrast to barcode. ‘Shelf management of resources,' ‘perceived RFID contributions,' and ‘workplace efficiency' were the top 3 rated dimensions pertaining to the use of RFID. Additionally, ‘increased customer satisfaction' was rated the highest among the reasons as to why RFID is adopted in libraries and the fact that all negative decision determinants were moderately perceived when compared to the positive ones indicates the overall positive attitude of managers in these libraries towards RFID technology. Further conclusions and future work are proposed at the end of the study.
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1. Introduction

The concept of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) first came into existence in the year 1983 when Charles Walton was awarded the first patent associated with the abbreviation RFID. Since then, the use of RFID technology in modern day business has become highly popular and it is considered to be the newest identification technique among all Internet of Things (IoT) technologies (Kadlec et al. 2014).

RFID, also known as electronic tag (E-Tag) technology, is a non-contact automatic identification technology. Cheng et al. (2016) state three main characteristics of RFID: it is an automated identification and management technology based on non-contact data acquisition; any amount of input can be fed thereby meeting the demands of continuously growing quantity of information and high processing speeds; and it is very fast in recognizing targets. Kantareddy et al. (2017) affirmed that with its low cost and low maintenance characteristics, RFID has emerged as an important asset tracking tool in a number of industries.

RFID was introduced in libraries as the aftermath of the development of computer technology and microelectronics. The possibility to amalgamate the functions of two widely used systems, viz., the barcode and anti-theft systems, made RFID more enticing for libraries (Timoshenko, 2016). Gupta and Madhusudhan (2017) claimed that RFID implementation in library related services made the processes more efficient and benefited both library professionals and customers, as compared to an accustomed technology such as barcode. For instance, staff can be free from performing manual tasks that are usually time consuming and can be used to enhance user-services instead (Jadhav et al., 2017).

During the period 2002-2014, China, with a contribution of over 17%, was leading in research on “RFID Technology and Libraries” among all other nations globally, followed by USA, Japan, Taiwan and India (Singh, Dhawan & Gupta, 2016). Barely any research was conducted in Qatar regarding the same as RFID was introduced in Qatari libraries only in late 2017. This paper aims to be one of the first research papers on the topic in Qatar that focuses on understanding the application of RFID technology, exploring both its benefits and drawbacks and reporting the success of implementation in the country. As the implementation of such technology is new in Qatar, it is vital to understand its challenges and benefits and direct decision-makers toward the best strategic alignment of such technology.

The paper is divided into two parts: first, introduce the concept of RFID technology and link it with library application, perform extensive literature review to comprehend the advantages and disadvantages of RFID application and identify ethical issues concerning the privacy of customers who use this technology. Second, the perceptions of library employees toward RFID implementation are explored based on empirical analyses and tests. Two sets of surveys were used to collect data from staff and managers in the two libraries that implement RFID in Qatar. In the end, the limitations faced, and recommendations are stated as part of the conclusion.

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