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Library using radio frequencies to make checkout faster

By April Everett

Rowan Public Library

According to library sage S.R. Ranganatham, “An organism which ceases to grow will petrify and perish.” Libraries have historically demonstrated a propensity to grow by adapting to technological change.

In the mid-20th century, librarians pioneered computerized metadata framework, a technology that revolutionized the sharing of bibliographic and holdings information. Automated circulation arrived shortly thereafter, and the card catalog went the way of the eight track tape. Personal computers and online cataloging, acquisitions and circulation carried the profession through the 1990s, and the introduction of a new technology known as radio frequency identification (RFID) has carried the profession into the 21st century.

While traditional barcodes remain the identification system of choice for most libraries, there are currently more than 120 library systems worldwide using RFID to make checkout more efficient for their patrons.

While its exact date of creation is unknown, RFID is believed by many to have been begun as a friendly-fire-avoidance tool used during World War II by U.S. and British airplanes. RFID allowed communication between the planes and receivers on the battlefield. In more recent history, RFID has been used heavily in the supply chain management industry, and is also being used by the U.S. government in passports, in EZ Pass gates at toll booths, and even in healthcare.

Rather than scanning individual items, RFID allows library staff to scan multiple tagged items simultaneously. It increases efficiency, allowing a patron to check out 10 items in less than one minute, a considerable time saver for staff and patrons. It also allows for accurate inventory and a reduction of incorrectly shelved books. Holding an RFID wand, staff will be able to walk through the stacks and locate misshelved items with ease.

Rowan Public Library first introduced RFID at its South Rowan Regional Library in 2006. In 2014, Rowan Public Library was awarded a Project Access and Digitization Grant from the State Library of North Carolina to continue RFID usage throughout the system.

The Rowan Public Library East branch and headquarters staff will spend the next few months tagging items to prepare them for the switch to RFID. RFID checkout at those branches is set to begin in spring 2015, bringing our customers faster, more efficient service.

Book Chats for children at South branch: Nov. 13 for grades 4 and 5, 4:15 p.m. Children in grades 2-5 may participate in Book Chats at South Rowan Regional Library in China Grove. Registration is required and space is limited. Please call 704-216-7728 for more information.

Computer classes: Computer Basics, Nov. 20, 9:30 a.m., headquarters. Registration is required by calling 704-216-8242. If you’re new to computers or if you’ve never felt comfortable with them, Computer Basics covers the very basics. Classes are free. Sessions are about 90 minutes long. Dates and times at all locations are subject to change without notice.

Teen program: All programs 5:30-7 p.m. East, Nov. 17; South, Nov. 18; Headquarters, Nov. 19. Teen programs are for middle school and high school students. Light refreshments for teens included.

International Game Day: Headquarters, Nov. 15, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. RPL will partner with local Girl Scout Troops to provide a taste of games from Brazil, Romania and other areas. This is a free event and all are welcome.

Book Bites Club: South Regional (only), Nov. 18, 6:30 p.m., “Guests on Earth,” by Lee Smith. Book discussion groups for adults and children meet the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information, please call 704-216-7841.

Adventure Club: Headquarters, Nov. 22, 11 a.m. Adventurous hands-on science based activities and projects for all ages. This month’s theme is “Pirates Ships and Pirate Maps.” Call 704-216-8234 for more details.

November closings: Tuesday, Veterans Day; Nov. 26, close at 1 p.m.; Nov. 27-28, Thanksgiving, regular hours resume Saturday, Nov. 29.

Displays for November: headquarters, NAMI by Peggy Mangold, Family Crisis/Domestic Violence, Bonnie Link; South, Rowan Doll Society by Gayle Hansen; East, Holiday Village by Mary Earnhardt.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

Children’s story time: Weekly through Nov. 26. For more information, call 704-216-8234.

• Baby Time — A loosely interactive program introducing simple stories and songs to babies 6–23 months old with a parent or caregiver. Program lasts 30 minutes. Headquarters, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.; East, Mondays, 10 a.m.

• Toddler Time — Focused on sharing books, singing songs and encouraging listening skills for children ages 18–35 months with a parent or caregiver; lasts 30 minutes. Headquarters, Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Mondays, 11 a.m.

• Tiny Tumblers — A loosely interactive program introducing simple stories, musical scarves and instruments for babies 6-23 months old with a parent or caregiver. The same program is offered two times per week; lasts 30 minutes. South, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.

• Preschool Time — To encourage the exploration of books and build reading readiness skills for children ages 3-5 with a parent or caregiver; lasts 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m.; East, Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; South, Tuesdays, 1:30 p.m.

• Noodlehead Story Time — For children ages 4-8 to enjoy listening to silly books and tales together; lasts 30 minutes. Headquarters, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Mondays, 4 p.m.

• Art programs — School-age children can learn different art terms and techniques and work on art projects. Program lasts 30 minutes. Headquarters, Art in the Afternoon, Thursdays, 4:30 p.m.; East, Emma’s Easel, Thursdays, 4 p.m.; South, Art with Char, Wednesdays, 4 p.m.

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