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How NFC Technology helps in Library Operations

  • Akansha Sharma
  • Dec 30, 2023
  • RFID
How NFC Technology helps in Library Operations

Near-field communication (NFC) technology is a powerful tool in the digital era that can transform various industries, including libraries. NFC technology allows seamless communication between devices within close proximity, making it an ideal solution for enhancing library operations to streamline processes, improve security, and provide a user-friendly experience for patrons. As an IoT technology, NFC has gained popularity due to its simplicity and convenience, and libraries are now adopting it to revolutionize their traditional operations including library access, membership, borrowings and returns, deposit kiosks, cataloging of Books and Journals, etc.

Understanding NFC Technology

NFC is a short-range wireless communication technology that establishes the connection between two devices and operates on high-frequency radio waves, particularly 13.56 MHz. You can start communication between an NFC tag/card and NFC-enabled devices, like smartphones or tablets; you just need to tap or bring them close to each other, which is much easier than magnetic strip based cards.

The NFC tag features a microchip and antenna and various kinds of information can be encoded in the NFC tag/card. 

Why Do We Need NFC in Libraries?

Through the application of NFC technology, libraries can boost efficiency and eliminate any issues they may encounter.

1. Eliminates the Manual Data Entry: Earlier we had to wait in long queues and complete manual paperwork, which took up a lot of time and effort. But now, NFC tags allow patrons to easily access and borrow books without the need for manual processing. Members just need to tap their smartphones or tablets on the NFC tags embedded in books so that they can instantly retrieve information about the book and its availability, and even reserve or renew their borrowings.
2. Lack of Access Control: Library managers used to face issues protecting their valuable resources and authenticating the users so that only authorized personnel could access the library. Here comes NFC technology for libraries to implement advanced security measures. After embedding NFC tags in books, libraries can track their inventory, prevent theft, and accurately locate missing items to reduce the effort required for inventory management and safeguard valuable resources. Additionally, libraries can use NFC technology to implement restrictions on certain materials, ensuring their proper usage and preventing unauthorized access.
3. Lack of Interactive Activities: Another significant advancement of NFC technology in libraries is improved accessibility. Using NFC-enabled libraries, patrons can access additional information and resources through tags affixed to library materials. For example, just tap your devices on an NFC tag attached to a book. So, you can access supplementary materials, such as audio versions, translations, or related online resources.

NFC Technology in Library Operations

NFC technology is integrated into library operations to enhance efficiency, security, and the user experience. Here are several ways in which NFC technology is utilized in libraries:

1. Implementing NFC technology in library check-in/check-out systems
With NFC technology, libraries can streamline these processes and provide a more efficient experience for both staff and patrons. Library managers use NFC tags in library materials, such as books or DVDs. Patrons can easily check them out by simply tapping their devices on the tags. The NFC-enabled devices, such as smartphones or tablets, can instantly retrieve information about the item, update the library's database, and provide a confirmation to the patron. Similarly, when patrons return items, they can tap the NFC tags on the return station, and the system will automatically update the library's database to reflect the return. Library staff can save time and reduce mistakes in scanning or entering information manually.

2. Enhancing library security with NFC Technology
Library security is a crucial aspect of operations, and NFC technology offers advanced solutions to safeguard valuable resources. For example, NFC-enabled security gates can be installed at library entrances and exits, allowing the library to track the movement of materials. When a patron tries to leave the library with an item that hasn't been properly checked out, the NFC tag on the item will trigger an alarm, alerting library staff to the potential theft. These tags can also be used to limit access to high-value items or restricted materials in libraries. Patrons can tap their devices on the NFC tags to gain access to these materials, ensuring that they are used responsibly and preventing unauthorized usage.

3. NFC-enabled Smart Shelves
A smart shelf that incorporates NFC technology—NFC tags placed on library shelves. When a patron taps their device on a shelf's NFC tag, they can instantly view the books' information, such as titles, authors, and availability. Assisting regular visitors in effectively navigating through the library's inventory and making informed choices regarding the books they desire.

4. NFC Technology for Library Inventory Management
Inventory management is a critical aspect of library operations. With NFC tags in library materials, libraries can accurately track the movement of items, streamline inventory processes, and ensure the availability of resources. Let's take an example: when items are received, library staff can tap the NFC tags on the items, and the system will automatically update the library's database to reflect their arrival. Similarly, when items are moved or transferred within the library, staff can tap the NFC tags to update their location in the database to ensure the accurate tracking of library materials. It reduces the time and effort required for inventory management and eliminates the need for manual barcode scanning or counting.

How does NFC Compare with RFID Technology for Library Operations?

Both Near Field (NFC) and Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) wireless technologies find applications in library operations, yet they differ in their range and use cases. NFC operates over short distances, typically a few centimeters, making it suitable for close-proximity interactions, which can be very useful in library operations. In contrast, RFID can operate over longer distances, allowing for more extended-range applications.

In library operations, NFC generally performs well in tasks like quick check-out and access control due to its close-range capabilities. For example, a library patron can use an NFC-enabled library card to swiftly check out books by tapping it on a self-service kiosk. RFID technology, on the other hand, is commonly employed for broader applications, such as inventory management, where books and materials are tagged with RFID labels, enabling efficient tracking across shelves.

In today's fast-paced environment, time-saving applications are a necessity, and NFC excels at both time-saving and providing an extended level of security to library managers. As a result, they will be able to increase customer engagement and satisfaction.

More importantly NFC tags on books and kiosks can be read using smartphones, allowing book enthusiasts and library staff a great deal of convenience and library experience, which is just not possible with RFID technology. You always need a dedicated RFID reader to read an RFID label.

In conclusion, NFC technology is revolutionizing library operations, offering a wide range of benefits for enhancing operations and providing a more user-friendly experience for patrons. So, libraries can streamline check-in and check-out processes, improve security, enhance accessibility, and efficiently manage their inventory by utilizing NFC Tags.

Frequently Asked Questions on NFC and Library Automation

Q1) What are the characteristics of NFC?

NFC can exchange information between different devices due to three fundamental characteristics: it is wireless, short-range, and high-frequency.

Q2) In what ways does NFC personalize patron interactions in the library?

NFC personalized interactions with NFC-enabled library cards, linking patron profiles or devices to provide customized recommendations, updates on borrowed items, and targeted communications based on individual preferences.

Q3) What benefits does NFC bring to financial transactions within the library?

NFC facilitates secure and convenient financial transactions within the library, such as fine payments or purchases. Patrons can use their NFC-enabled cards or smartphones for contactless payments, improving the efficiency of financial transactions.

Disclaimer: The information presented here is for general information purposes only and true to best of our understanding. Users are requested to use any information as per their own understanding and knowledge. Before using any of the information, please refer to our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.

  • Created on Dec 30, 2023

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