There is a very interesting article in Salon.com about a controversy about the usage of RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) tags in libraries. I'm not going to write too much about the article because I want to encourage people to to get the free day pass to my favourite news source, or even better, subscribe to it.
It is very strange to see some librarians on the opposite side of a privacy debate with the EFF, the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and the ACLU. I had never heard about RFID in libraries before reading this article. I am as yet undecided about the issue. As a former systems librarian who also did a lot of work in circulation, I can understand just how convenient RFID tags could be. I can also identify with the argument that RFID tags will help protect patron's privacy by making self-check out more effective. On the other hand, it could be very damaging for our profession if there is any question or doubt about our commitment to patron privacy. The idea that we are being slightly hyprocritical would definitely play into the hands of John Ashcroft and supporters of how the USAPATRIOT Act affects libraries.