Guarding books with technology

Guarding books with technology

Some members who borrow books from a library do not intend to return them. What makes matters worse is the fact that alert librarians and security systems have not been able to curtail such crimes effectively.

Investigation into the matter revealed that ‘book-lifterss’ choose busy slots of time like breaks, or check-in/ check-out time. 3M, a company in the US, a few years ago, wondered if they could create a higher level of security for public libraries. Their research aimed at a secure system which could facilitate librarians to spend more time with the members, helping them to choose the right reference material rather than playing guard to the books.

The research team worked hard and came up with digital aids for shelf-reading, weeding and detection systems in order to provide security, reliability, and accuracy of library material.

Tattle Tape

It is a thin transparent magnetised ribbon which is pasted on one of the pages in a book. When the borrower checks the book out of the library, the librarian will deactivate the tattle tape so that the electronic doors programmed to identify such misappropriation do not beep when the person steps out with the book.


Rewritable radio frequency identity (RFID) tags are pasted on books to record details of books, CDs and DVDs with reference to the subject, author, edition and acquisition number. This system is complemented by conversion stations which provide a quick and easy solution for converting bar-coded library material to RFID technology. RFID tags help a librarian update his log book, simplify the stock checking process and also locate books which have been misplaced or hidden intentionally.

Digital Library Assistant

The Digital Library Assistant is like a laser detector. It is operated by an inbuilt remote control system programmed in such a way that when waved over rows of books, it networks with the RFID tags and identifies books that have been displaced. The digital library helps a member to take or return a book and pay fines without manual help.

Self Check Systems

The Self Check system is a round-the-clock service. Librarians who have installed these security systems in libraries vouch for the fact that it helps them function efficiently.
While technology can only help in bringing down the crime, it is up to each individual to treat books with respect and care.

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