Library Tech: Not Just the Dewey Decimal System
New technologies for reading and borrowing books and other media.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: September 3rd, 2012
When renting a book from the library for an e-reader, you don't need to worry about overdue fees, since once your rental period is up, you can no longer access the book.
ack in the olden days, if you wanted to check out a book, you'd have to get yourself to the library, search through a card catalog, find the book on the shelves (and hope it wasn't already checked out), check it out, then read it within a designated time-frame before trekking back to the library to return it on time. Checking out the books required a wait in line to see the librarian, who kept track of the books' due dates. Nowadays, though, there are technologies that help you bypass the line and sometimes, even bypass going to the library altogether.
Several years ago, libraries began implementing Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) that simplified the check-out process. RFID tags are attached to the media (books, CDs, etc), and since there is no power supply within the tags, they can't do anything unless connected near a receiver pad—patrons set their books on the pad, and the barcode communicates with the pad to record which products are being checked out. The receiver pad sends a radio frequency scan to the tag, which creates an electrical current in the tag's antenna, which then sends the item's identification back to the receiver pad. The receiver then communicates that information to the library's system, which completes the transaction. It works quickly, especially since some receiver pads can handle a stack of items instead of scanning one at a time.
But aside from new methods of checking out books within the library, thanks to the advent of e-readers and apps that allow users to access the Amazon Kindle/Barnes & Noble Nook stores, library guests now have the option of checking out library books and having them sent directly to their device. How this works is simpler than you'd think, too. Just visit the website of a library that offers e-books, check out a book using your library card, then click "get for Kindle" and sign into your Amazon account. The books still need to be "returned," but this time, there's no worry of late fees, since when your rental period is up, the e-book expires and you can no longer access it.
The advent of these two new technologies for libraries and reading is an interesting development, and as the years go by we wonder what else we'll see libraries offer us.