CCE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Steven D Zink

Committee Member

Eric S Ackerman

Committee Member

Ling Wang


library, Radio Frequency Identification, RFID


An Analysis of the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Technology Implementation within an Independent Public Library System:

A Case Study of the North Canton, Ohio Public Library


Keith P. Lyons

June 2010

Public libraries require efficient control systems to maintain accurate inventories, statistics, and records of patron borrowing. Generally, public libraries use barcode technology to accomplish these tasks. Radio frequency identification (RFID) has gained the attention of public library personnel in recent years as a replacement for barcodes. RFID implementation contributes to improved staff productivity, increased operational efficiency, and improved item security as well. While potential benefits are significant, issues to consider prior to adoption include system costs, as well as privacy and security concerns.

As a consequence of increased patron use and limited budgets, the role of RFID in the public library is promoted as a solution to many of today's challenges. RFID in the public library can assist by improving inventory tracking, improving customer service, and decreasing theft. Using the case study methodology in conjunction with the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC), the author examined RFID use at the North Canton Public Library and its capabilities in improving inventory tracking, providing item security, and supporting customer service. Qualitative data were collected using focused interviews, documentation, direct observation, and participant observation.

Findings from this investigation revealed a significant decrease in time required to perform inventory tasks and an increase in time available for library staff to assist patrons. Additionally, evidence demonstrated an increase in the efficiency of patron records due to the automation of the checkout process. Patron privacy and data security were maintained by adherence to RFID implementation guidelines established by the American Library Association (ALA). The findings from this investigation provide public library administrators considering adoption of RFID with a thorough understanding of pre-implementation considerations and the benefits, drawbacks, logistical concerns, and privacy issues that must be addressed for successful results.

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