Thursday, 25 June 2015

RFID grants to libraries

As I mentioned in the last post, the Libraries Board has provided $390,000 of its own bequest funds as the seed funding for the RFID project.  This is additional funding over & above the State Government grant which the Board administers.  Having access to this discretionary funding from the Board has proved to be very useful for our network.  Prior to this grant the Board's largest contribution was the funding for the rollout of Wi-Fi to all libraries about a decade ago.  The Board also provided most of the costs for the "Tomorrow's Libraries" report which is due out next week, and will be considering some additional funds for the School Community Libraries community led planning program for 2015/16 & 2016/17.

Given the size of this grant we will be reporting the additional expenditure in public libraries in our aggregated statistics which we report on to National & State Libraries of Australasia (NSLA). You can see past national public libraries statistics here.

To provide some scale around these grants on a per council basis, the cost of the provision of tags to libraries ranges from $750 for our smallest library Andamooka (by collection size), through $9,500 to the Coorong, over $10,000 for Barossa & almost $13,000 for Wattle Range to $17,000 for Campbelltown and over $34,000 for Charles Sturt.  And this does not put a price on the delivery and provision of the tagging stations which will be provided at no cost to all libraries with a collection of over 15,500 items.

And of course the money goes a lot further and buys a lot more tags and equipment because of the total value of the tender we have been able to put into the market.  The price of tags and equipment would have been considerably higher if libraries had have purchased these items on their own.

It could be said that libraries which have been early adopters of RFID are not receiving a benefit from this grant process. However I believe there is clear evidence of the benefits all libraries will derive & this will become much clearer from November 2 this year.  One of the motivations for applying to the Board for the grant for this project was to speed up the universal application of RFID in all libraries.  This will mean that large RIFD enabled libraries will soon have all items received through the courier able to fit into their RFID workflows, without needing to run a second process for these items.  I know that these efficiencies will be welcomed in libraries which have already deployed RFID.

Also, as soon as we progress the RFID rollout a bit further we will be able to look at contracting our materials suppliers to provide items "shelf ready" - with RFID tags already applied to items.  This will provide a further benefit to all libraries, by having this work done in the most efficient and cost effective way possible.

The governance model for our public library network which provides considerable local autonomy, coupled with collaboration where it adds value as well as the leadership and additional funding from the Libraries Board is a unique and powerful model.  It creates an environment where even the smallest libraries have access to great technology and content, while our larger libraries also gain benefits from their participation.  We will see more evidence of the value of this model when we provide State-wide access to over 400 online magazines through Zinio and thousands of online training & information videos through in coming weeks.

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