Library RFID Project Completed Early and Under Budget

MEDIA RELEASE - For immediate release
Date: July 27, 2012
Contact: Jodi Nielsen, Senior Program Educator
Washington County Cooperative Library Services

Library RFID Project Completed Early and Under Budget

Washington County, Oregon:  The Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS) set an ambitious goal of implementing a countywide Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking system for library materials in a year's time. The project began in August 2011 and tagging wrapped up in early July 2012. The goals were to improve inventory management, save costs by reducing staff handling of materials, speed up the checkout process for patrons and increase the security of the countywide collection.

To that end, here is what WCCLS accomplished:

  • A temporary project manager was hired and a Request For Proposal (RFP) was issued and reviewed
  • 3M Library Systems was selected as the vendor
  • RFID tags were purchased and teams of 10-15 contract "taggers" placed and programmed the tags in over 1.4 million books, CDs, DVDs, and other materials in all member libraries
  • The tagging process started at Hillsboro's Shute Park Library on January 1, 2012 and finished with Tuality Health Information Center by the end of June 2012
  • RFID readers were installed at check-out desks, in library backrooms and processing areas at all member libraries
  • Security gates were installed in 16 libraries
  • Self-Check Out machines were installed or upgraded in 12 libraries The rate of tagging materials initially was approximately 800-1200 books per 8-hour shift. After some experience and modifying of tagging techniques, our taggers reached 1500-2500 books per 8-hour shift, and 600-1200 for media.

According to Eva Calcagno, Director of WCCLS, "we estimated that the project would go into mid-August 2012, but are pleased that the equipment was installed on-time and staff exceeded estimates for how long it would take to complete the tagging, finishing over a month early. With reduced staff costs and careful purchasing decisions, the overall project came in under budget by $102,950. Those funds will remain in the WCCLS reserve to be used for future projects of countywide value."

Implementing RFID materials tracking was a first major phase in improving the efficiency of moving and handling library materials. Total countywide check-outs for FY11-12 topped 13 million and WCCLS Couriers picked up and delivered an estimated 8.2 million items to fill patron holds and return materials to their home libraries. RFID technology reduces the number of manual steps required to check in and check out each item, saving millions of repetitive steps for staff each year. Several member libraries are now planning for the next major phase in 2013, which is to install automated materials handling (AMH) equipment to mechanically check in and sort library materials without staff intervention. These efficiencies will allow libraries to keep up with increases in use without adding additional staffing and allow current staff to move from performing manual tasks in the back room to provide more direct patron services.

The Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS) includes: Banks Public Library, Beaverton City Library, Beaverton City Library @ Murray Scholls, Cedar Mill Community Library, Cedar Mill Community Library @ Bethany, Cornelius Public Library, Forest Grove City Library, Garden Home Community Library, Hillsboro Public Libraries (Main and Shute Park), North Plains Public Library, Sherwood Public Library, Tigard Public Library, Tualatin Public Library, and West Slope Community Library. Two specialty libraries are also a part of the Cooperatives library card service — the Oregon College of Art & Craft and the Tuality Health Education Resource Center.