Friday, February 22, 2008


I'm still working on Thing 3, but wanted to note a few things about a RFID presentation I went to yesterday at 3M in Maplewood. I was curious about how RFID might work in an archives or special collections situation and came away thinking that it might work for some things, but not for others. Plus, there would be huge costs for conversion. I like the technology and think that it would make the task of inventorying our collection much easier, but there are also some limitations. The range of the reader is about 18 inches, which means that with our shelving configuration in our underground cavern storage the front box/record carton would have to be moved to get at the back box. Not a big deal, but when you're working on a materials picker 20 feet in the air it might make for an interesting ballet. Also, we're never going to affix a label to any of our rare materials, so the tag would have to be put on a slip which in turn would go into the book. I don't know what adhesives are used on the tag and whether or not they are acid-free, but that would seem to be an issue. Much of the presentation at 3m dealt with time and money savings in a circulating library, but since our stuff doesn't circulate I pretty much dismissed that part of the presentation as irrelevant. RFID would work for collection management, but the standards haven't settled yet, and the costs are still too prohibitive. But I really would like a fairly quick way to do an inventory of our collection. Its been four years since the last, very labor intensive inventory and that is too long to wait.

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