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Successful Stories

The University of Hong Kong Libraries

RFID Library Management Solution

Background

The University of Hong Kong, founded in 1911, is the oldest tertiary institution in Hong Kong and the libraries was established in 1912.

The University of Hong Kong’s Libraries seeks to sustain and enhance the University’s excellence as an institution of higher learning, as a pre-eminent international university in Asia.

The Main Library, with 1.3 million books and journals (not including rare books, special collections and AV materials), comprises an all-rounded collection of materials in the arts, humanities, architecture, social sciences, and science and technology, giving vital support to teaching and research in the University.

Challenge

The University of Hong Kong Libraries (HKUL) had been considering the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology in its library operations since early 2000. Owing to the massive initial outlay on setting up a RFID system and replacing existing barcodes with RFID tags, the issue on whether RFID technology should be used has been a major discussion point since then. In 2007, HKUL decided to adopt RFID with a view to implementation in 2008.

During the implementation process, it was a condition that the library remained open without any disruption to library users. This was specifically challenging for tagging over 1.3 million items. Also, the RFID system was expected to keep existing work flows and reduce changes as much as possible. No negative effect on current operations and no down time was allowed.

Solution

In Dec 2007, HKUL awarded the project to E-Business Solutions Limited (EBS), formerly known as ETI Consulting Limited (ETIC) to develop their RFID Library Management System for the Main Library of HKUL. The RFID system was smoothly integrated with the existing library management system (Innovative’s Innopac) and the HKU portal, to enable seamless interfacing for authentication, recording of transactions and report generation.

EBS developed the RFID Library Management System and partnered with IBM and Tagsys for hardware in the project. The system comprises librarian workstations, self-check kiosks, handheld inventory reader and a conveyor belt type return unit.

Client Quotes

Comments from HKUL:

  • With the new system, library staff reported that, with the ability to process multiple books at a single time, queues at the loan counters have reduced and transaction time per use has also reduced.
  • “With the self check kiosks, borrowing of books is available uninterrupted during the 24 hour opening period.”

Quotes from Library users:

  • “Library services are very good. The self check-in and out stands, for example, provide a faster and more efficient way for students to obtain material.”
  • “The introduction of self service check out stations is particularly helpful.”
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