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Time for librarians to check out?

Could NFC technology make the role of librarian obsolete? A new NFC-based solution demonstrated at the 100th German Librarian Day in Berlin certainly suggests so.

The prototype of the first-ever mobile SelfCheck features an NFC capable smart phone that makes it possible to borrow straight from the library shelf. Users can check out, extend the lending period and manage their media with their mobile device. Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems, which is partnering with NXP on the solution, has applied for patent protection for the system.

A specially developed application for NFC-capable mobile devices enables users to check out media from any location within the library as soon as it is taken from the shelf, entirely eliminating check out lines and enhancing user privacy.

Library goers simply point their cell phone at the book, press “borrow” in the appropriate menu, and the book is checked out. Reconciliation with the library system occurs simultaneously.

NFC is a transfer standard for contactless data exchange over short distances. The use of the technology is expected to explode when it comes to cashless payment, paperless ticketing, online downloads and access control. Industry analysts predict that 100 million or more NFC-enabled devices could be in use by the end of this year, with that number approaching 500 million by 2015.

Of course, librarians will still be needed for users who don’t know how to use a card or computer system to locate books, to offer general reference guidance, and to hush hush those noisy kids in the reading area!

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