In the spring and summer of 2017, all Clackamas County libraries will begin utilizing RFID technology to improve library services to the community. Answers to frequently asked questions about the project are below.

What is RFID?

RFID stands for radio frequency identification. RFID tags will be added to every library item. These tags allow materials to be checked out when placed on a pad, eliminating the need to scan individual barcodes. RFID also facilitates more efficient processing and better inventory management.

What changes should I expect when checking out materials?

Patrons who want to check out items on their own will use new self-check stations. These stations will make the check-out process faster and easier. Staff will be available to help you use the new stations. Self-service check-out will continue to be an option. We will still have friendly, knowledgeable staff available at the Circulation Desk for those who prefer a personal touch.

When will this change take place?

The goal is to have all libraries in Clackamas County ready this summer. We started tagging materials in April and expect to finish the tagging by the end of May. We hope the new self-check stations will be unveiled in July.

What will tagging materials entail?

The Wilsonville Public Library will remain open during the tagging process. We will be in the stacks as staff work their way through the collections. If you have questions about the process, please ask at the Reference Desk. Please note that some other libraries in the county may be closed for short periods of time to add tags to their materials.

Is RFID a new technology in libraries?

No, RFID has been successfully used in libraries throughout Asia, Europe, and North America for more than 15 years. In the Pacific Northwest, for example, you’ll find RFID-tagged collections at libraries in Multnomah County, Washington County, Fort Vancouver Regional Library District, Seattle, Eugene, and many other communities.

Will there be an RFID tag in my library card?

LINCC does not plan to use RFID-enabled library cards at this time. We will continue to use barcoded patron cards for the foreseeable future.

How is my privacy protected when RFID tags are used to identify materials?

The library’s RFID tags will carry only unique numerical identifiers. No title, author, publisher information, patron information, or use pattern can be found by reading an RFID tag in a library item.

Are there any health effects associated with RFID?

The World Health Organization (WHO) and many other organizations have conducted extensive research on the potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.  WHO has concluded that at the frequency used by library RFID systems (13.56 MHz), there is no evidence of adverse effects to general health or pregnancy.  Nor is there any record of interference with medical devices such as pacemakers.  For more information, see WHO’s detailed report at:  http://www.who.int/peh-emf/about/WhatisEMF/en/

Since the RFID tags placed in library items are passive they do not produce radio frequency signals except when in proximity to a powered transmitter such as those used in library check-out stations. Rest assured, library books, DVDs, and other items will not produce a radio frequency on their own.  It may also be of interest to know that everyday devices such as TVs, radios, cell phones, Bluetooth headsets, and wireless networks all function using radio frequencies and electromagnetic fields.