San Francisco Public Library RFID Implementation

Proposed Plan of Action


Follow Berkeley Public Library’s Recommended Best Practices:


·        Library information on the tag should be limited to the barcode.

·        Patrons should not have the ability to search the catalog by barcode.

·        Do not utilize wireless connections to communicate between security gates, self-checks or other RFID-reading devices and the ILS database unless more security is incorporated in these communications. 

·        The implementation of an RFID system only reinforces the current library’s duty to make sure their ILS database is as secure from unauthorized entry as possible.

·        Do not implement smart-card RFID patron library cards.

·        Inform patrons that your library utilizes RFID technology.


·        Consider encryption of barcode data on tags



Action before, during & after RFID implementation:


·        Encourage vendors to develop a protocol for formatting and placement of data on the tag while concurrently developing security to ensure privacy (such as encryption).  Work with those knowledgeable about emerging technology to provide input and oversight.

·        Encourage vendors to use or develop systems where the reader queries the tag first, rather than having the tag broadcast first, or require authentication before data is transmitted.

·        Encourage vendors to develop password technology to help ensure that a reader purchased by an unauthorized source is not able to read any tag.

·        To protect the library’s investment in the technology, chips should be write-able, so that upgrades can be incorporated.  Concurrently, security measures should be developed so that there is protection against unauthorized or accidental writing to the tag.

·        Monitor the book industry for developments in the preprocessing of books with RFID tags.  Book companies could allow much more data on the tag, or could  reference the ISBN  number on the tag, leading to easier detection of the book title.

·        Monitor ongoing health studies.

·        Monitor Weblogs and news sources for any RFID developments.

·        Encourage development of green manufacturing techniques for tags (see for more information).

·        Monitor and participate in discussions on RFID with library associations & taskforces (California Library Association, Public Library Association & American Library Association).


Standards Examined:

·        International Organization for Standardization ISO 15693-1  Physical characteristics of RFID labels

·        ISO 15693-2/3 Communication between reader & RFID label

·        NBLC Netherlands Association of Public Libraries Generic Set of requirements RFID for public libraries

·        European Telecommunications Standards Institute ETSI 300 330 Radio equipment, short range devices, technical characteristics ..for radio equipment in the frequency range 9 kHZ to 25 MHz

·        Code of Federal Regulation 47 CFR Pt.15.225 Emissions from gates & readers

·        Universal Laboratories UL 1950 (to be replaced by UL 60950 by 2005) Safety of Information Technology Equipment

·        Federal Communications Commission OET Bulletin #63 Understanding the FCC Regulations for Low-Power, Non-Licenses Transmitters

·        ISO Standards being developed ISO 21928 Data elements for RFID in libraries, ISO 18000-3 Information Technology, radio-frequency identification for item management, parameters for air interface communications at 13.56 MHz


Organizations & experts contacted:

·        Marlene Vogelsand, Resource Specialist, Pacific Energy Center

·        Michael Herz, EMF Consultant, PG&E

·        Ronald Arenson, Chair, Dept. of Radiology, UCSF

·        California Dept. of Occupation Health & Safety

·        California Electric and Magnetic Fields Program

·        Dr. Patricia Buffler, Dean, School of Public Health, UCB

·        Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, Medical Director, Environmental Health Management and Occupational Safety & Health, Dept. of Public Health (DPH)

·        Vickie Wells, Director, Occupational Safety & Health unit, DPH

·        Karen Heckman, Senior Industrial Hygienist, DPH

·        Nancy Terranova, Safety Officer, DPH