VALA 2008 Conference – Day 1 – Concurrent Session 10 – Enabling Technologies

Alan Butters – Sybis
“New RFID technologies & standards: what does it all mean for your library”
handouts available from Alan’s website

Two ISO standards in common use – ISO 15693, ISO 18000-3 (newest).
Tag Data model and privacy and data security mechanisms are not prescribed in these standards.
Implications: no interoperability between systems, have to reprogram tags when changing vendors, difficult to mix and match equipment.
Standards work on the communication between the tag and the reader.  ISO working group is working on an international standard of data models on the tag – some debate over the format, been going on for over a year.  Compromise position adopted at a third meeting.

ISO 28560 to be structured in three parts: (standard aimed at libraries, but could be adapted to other organisation types)
1. General requirements and data elements ie. item identifier, call no, instituitional ID, title etc – approximately 25 items thus far.
2. Encoding based on ISO/IEC 15962 (as proposed by Standards Australia) – only item ID is mandatory, the rest is optional
3. Fixed length encoding – variation on fixed models already in place

Ultra High Frequency (UHF) RFID in libraries:
RFID operates at multiple frequencies, usually use Band 19 – high end of the frequency.
Frequency selected to match the application – read speed, distance and other performance criteria

Why differ? advantages for libraries – faster read rates, greater read distance, cheaper tags and readers, greater immunity to tag masking, compatability with supply chain initiatives. ie. Walmart.

UHF FAQ: HF is more mature and capable and can deliver to libraries.  UHF is still very new in libraries, limited suppliers.
Why not UHF? More info is needed on UHF libraries – works on mobile phones range of the spectrum.  Mostly used in warehouses, what are the implications for office type environments with people not just objects.  How long will they last?   Mainly used for short term use in warehousing.  Lose anything going to UHF? Less control, narrower product range, not interoperable with HF systems, suppliers are not library experienced.  Can’t mix HF and UHF.  Future is unknown, don’t know which will come out on top – might coexist or something new may come out.  RFID systems on the market now can deliver the benefits that libraries are seeking. – “RFID for Libraries: a comparison of HF and UHF options” – white paper

Kathryn Greenhill – Murdoch Uni, Constance Wiebrands – Curtin Uni
“Libraries Interact: collaboration and community in the Australian library blogosphere”

LINT is one of only two group library blogs in Australia.  Encourages contributions from anyone, as long as they are on-topic. Not aligned with any formal body.

200 hits per day and have 550 subscribers.  22680 hits in December 2007 – includes a lot of spam.  Visitors – 1/6 from Australian, most from US, also readers from Egypt, Netherlands, Canada, UK and Europe.

THALI – this helps all libraries interact – Indian dish with many different tastes.  Spread across the country and across the world.

Platform – self hosted WordPress – $100 per year.  Plugins to control Spam, for editing, statistics, to apply metadata, backup.  Feedburner is used for RSS feeds and gives an email subscription option.  Tools for collaboration – 90% done using Google groups, PB Wiki for documentation. Social bookmarking using Connotea and CiteULike.

Tools for Australian libraries, based on the blog: Australian Library blogs list, Australian Library blogs search using Google custom search. Surveys. VLINT – Virtual libraries interact.  Frappr map of LINT’s readers.  Thali tags – hot issues in the Australian blogosphere – takes thali blog posts, sends them through a Yahoo pipe and generates a tag cloud. Professional reading room – a page on the blog, where we can put out a list of articles which we think Australian librarians should read – with an RSS feed.

Went live on 8th July 2006 – discussed for a month or so.  Established over the course of a weekend.  Jan 26 2008 – 313 posts, 557 comments.  Very informal group, not written principles.  LINT is a growing, evolving project.  An idea will work only if someone has time to do it, but everyone is available to bounce around ideas – fantastic professional support network.  No single person is in charge – can be a slight disadvantage, but all have a sense of responsibility for LINT.  No formal decision making process, done by informal negotiation and discussion – consensus is accepted by the group.  Assess situations and deal with them as they arise and we don’t create pre-emptive rules.  Highest return for lowest effort.

Community of practice – learning is not a separate activity, it comes from participation in daily life. (citation in paper – Lave and Venga).  Engagement in shared activity facilitates shared learning.  About: LINT is an ongoing process – its about a shared activity, continually negotiated by its members.  All tools we have used have improved our coding, writing and communication skills.  Function: social nature of LINT keeps us focussed, but adds an element of interest and fun to the process, no real difficulty in keeping motivated.  Capability: tangible aspect is the blog, plus the tools that have been created, but the intangibles are almost more important – development of the community, not just the technical community but a support network, which is extremely valuable.  Physical meeting of group members just confirmed the relationships that had been established online.

Survey Monkey was used in September 2007 to survey other group library blogs. 63 responses: uses – professional and was part of their job and was required – learning skills including writing, community – contributing to the profession, and other personal reasons.

Get involved – – read, subscribe, comment and write a post to contribute to the blog.

Future: we have a new look but the rest is in planning.

Ellen Forsyth – State Library of NSW
“Fancy walkie talkies: Star Trek communicators or roving reference? (2006 Travel Scholar)”

Travel Scholarship investigated roving reference using walkie talkies, wireless bluetooth, shelf end OPACs and more.  Roving reference in these instances also have a desk, although desks are changing also. Taking the services away from the desk involves changes to the service. Consideration needs to be taken of technology to help the librarian to help the user.

Low tech – OPACs at the extremities of the library, so its on hand when you are in shelves.

Vocera voice command system on a badge hung around the neck, used by some public libraries to assist with staff communication as well as reference.  Needs a good wireless network and was used mainly in very big libraries.  Most libraries have 50 devices, keyed into individuals and all had licences for more, mainly reference staff.  Staff are encouraged to stay logged in all day, but can put them on hold when you don’t want to be disturbed.  Very easy to use, library staff commented on ease of implementation and training.  System was trained in 5 minutes to understand your accent in relation to commands.  Incoming phone calls can be transferred to someone with a badge. Can call individuals, a group or all staff, for emergencies, or help required etc. Telephone reference is being redirected straight to the Vocera badges, instead of ringing a phone, it goes to the rostered reference librarian.  Reference desks are being rebuilt as smaller and less daunting.

Walkie talkies and headsets with earpieces are also being used at some libraries. Radio means you hear every single message, but it worked well at those libraries.

1 comment

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    • Steve Mayhugh on February 4, 2009 at 7:07 am

    Anyone using a technology other than walkie talkies or Vocera? Vocera works like a charm, but is a bit pricey for small libraries.

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