New technology on its way to Los Altos Library: RFID tags could mean more convenient checkout

All materials at the Los Altos Library are being outfitted with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags as the first step toward faster, more convenient checkout.

Checkout machines can read the tags at any angle and with materials stacked. Previously, barcode numbers on each item had to be lined up with a scanner.

Installation will take several weeks and is scheduled for completion by the middle of October, when new self-check equipment that uses RFID technology arrives.

The Los Altos Library is the first in Santa Clara County Library to feature the technology. Other Santa Clara County libraries will convert to the same devices and new self-check machines next year.

"This is another way that the library is using technology to enhance the library experience for our patrons," said Melinda Cervantes, Santa Clara County librarian. "This allows visitors to spend more time browsing the collection and less time checking out materials."

Cervantes said the RFID tag contains no information other than the barcode of the item, and it cannot be read from a distance, so patrons should not be concerned about maintaining privacy on the items they check out.

The Santa Clara County Library system's collection includes 1.7 million books, CDs, DVDs, periodicals and other materials.

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