Having visited several Australian and New Zealand libraries over the past ten years I understand that there are very significant differences between the two countries! However, in terms of the supply and deployment of RFID technology they are very much closer to each other than to other significant library RFID markets so I hope my ANZ followers will forgive me for analysing their results together.
A total of 79 organisations responded to this year’s survey 66 from Australia and 13 from New Zealand. In both countries the public sector appears to have invested most heavily in RFID (although the figure for New Zealand was slightly lower at 63%). This contrasts sharply with the picture in the UK where universities have long been in the majority – certainly in terms of their willingness to complete the survey!
Circulation (76) is once again the major use of RFID with theft prevention (63) in second place. These are followed by collection management (42), and monitoring stock use in the library (33), access control (10) is however much less popular than in the UK while acquisition and accession handling (22) and automated materials handling (18) are both relatively more widely deployed.
As I have mentioned elsewhere my reason for including this question is twofold. Knowing the frequency s probably the single most important thing to understand about an RFID installation so the answers to this question help me gain an understanding of how much librarians understand about the technology. A secondary reason is to assess the extent of the library UHF market.
In Australia and New Zealand, like the UK, the probability of libraries using UHF is low (although there are more UHF suppliers) as major RFID suppliers in the two counties only supply HF solutions. Of the 15% that reported using UHF solutions 75% said they bought them from FE Technologies, the rest were equally divided between Bibliotheca+3m and Checkpoint whilst one declined to give the name of their supplier.
Dependence on SIP in Australia and New Zealand is significantly higher than in the UK (it will be interesting to see the US numbers). Both libraries that reported using an API were clients of the same supplier (FE Technologies) though neither appeared to be using functionality over and above that already supported by SIP (and both reported using SIP as well). It would be interesting to know what the APIs are being used to provide but only one of the respondents indicated a willingness to be contacted while the other has not replied to my enquiry.
A chart that speaks for itself. FE Technologies were already the major force in the market when I conducted the last survey in 2014 and their acquisition by Invengo appears to have increased their momentum significantly.
FE Technologies dominance of the market almost renders comparative analysis redundant but there is always a demand for information about which ILS and RFID suppliers work with each other so here’s that list,
|SirsiDynix & FE Technologies||18|
|Libero & FE Technologies||8|
|Softlink & FE Technologies||8|
|Civica & FE Technologies||5|
|Access IT & FE Technologies||4|
|AMLIB & FE Technologies||3|
|Ex Libris & FE Technologies||3|
|OCLC & FE Technologies||3|
|SirsiDynix & Bibliotheca+3M||3|
|Civica & Bibliotheca+3M||2|
|Aurora & FE Technologies||1|
|Capita & Checkpoint||1|
|Civica & Envisionware||1|
|Innovative Interfaces & FE Technologies||1|
|Koha & Bibliotheca+3M||1|
|Kotui & FE Technologies||1|
|Softlink & Envisionware||1|
The remaining charts show the results for one of the main areas of interest for librarians – supplier performance. I asked how well each performed against nine criteria. Each bar represents the percentage of users of each solution expressing that opinion.
I also asked respondents if they wished to make any additional comments about supplier performance. Here’s what they said,
- We had unacceptable service from 3M here in NZ, and from other libraries I’ve spoken to, our situation is not unique. 3M are now out of libraries in NZ, and have handed over to Bibliotheca.
- Bug fixes seem to take a long time to be developed
- I find that from the purchase of the item to the installation, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of communication between the sales person and the installer.
- It took some weeks to resolve all issues on a branch new kiosk this year.
- The provider responds to problems quite well, HOWEVER, the problems we have with the product are huge. Every day there is something that doesn’t work and we are tired of calling and calling to have things fixed.
- It is proving much more difficult & far slower than it should be to get our RFID provider, our library consortia’s tech helpdesk and our LMS provider to communicate with each other to resolve interop issues between our RFID gear and the LMS, and to keep us (the library) in the loop. This feels like pulling teeth.
- We find that the company don’t follow through unless we push them and keep on contacting them.
- Communication is below standard
- Response times have improved
- They are quick to answer calls and log them, but fixing problems tends to take a long time
Only two libraries indicated that their members had access to NFC applications that interacted directly with library stock, one of them for self-issue and the other for discovering items related to items in hand. Ten reported using the self-service kiosks for operations other than circulation, two for booking library assets and five for catalogue enquiries, the remaining three did not indicate the other purposes for which they were used. One library reported using library kiosks for non-library purposes but declined to say what these might be.
Finally, respondents were asked to share any additional thoughts they might have about the survey or RFID in general. This is what they said. I have emphasised areas to which I will return in my final summary of these results at the end of the week.
- I don’t think libraries are currently using RFID to its full potential. Having worked at several RFID enabled libraries, they mostly use them as barcode replacements. I’m still waiting for the next level innovative use of RFID technology. Additionally, while our RFID system doesn’t directly use SIP2 to communicate with our LMS, the SIP2 connection is antiquated by today’s standards. No secure encryption, limited query fields to name but a few. Direct APIs or the fabled ‘SIP3’ with https enabled has been too long coming. I have questioned RFID vendors who use SIP2 to send client data to off site servers about security and have got unsatisfactory answers.
- We are building a new library and will not be installing RFID.
- We are very happy with our RFID system and our customers take up of it.
- We’re keen to see what opportunities that the combination of NFC & our new web-based LMS can offer us in terms of enabling mobile library / pop-up library functionality, fully connected to real-time circulation functionality. However, it seems that we’ll need to initiate our own investigations to go down this path, as neither our RFID provider nor our LMS provider have as yet laid out any ready-to-go plans / offerings on how to do this, or intimated that such things are in the works. In any event, we figure that this should be possible with minimal capital outlay, once we can put the pieces together (NFC-enabled smartphone / tablet, & NFC / barcode apps that integrate well with the LMS).
- We love the (supplier’s) RFID system as it is user friendly for the customers and it is a very reliable system but we get frustrated with the consistency of support the company provides. We feel we have to keep sending messages asking for an update on the situation.
This survey required a technical knowledge that I don’t have. I was not the person who managed the implementation of the RFID technology, they have since left. I manage the technology and when there is a problem I report it to the help