May 17, 2022

Article: “How Do Libraries Manage the Ethical And Privacy Issues Of RFID Implementation? A Qualitative Investigation Into The Decision-Making Processes of Ten Libraries”

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How do libraries manage the ethical and privacy issues of RFID implementation? A qualitative investigation into the decision-making processes of ten libraries


Stuart Ferguson
University of Canberra, Australia

Clare Thornley
University College Dublin, Ireland

Forbes Gibb
University of Strathclyde, UK


Journal of Library and Information Systems

June 2015
Vol. 47 No. 2


This paper explores how library managers go about implementing RFID (radio frequency identification) technology and particularly how associated privacy issues have been managed.

The research methodology consisted of a literature review, theme identification, interview scheduling, interviews and interview analysis. The sample was 10 libraries or library networks and 18 participants. Findings covered the main drivers of RFID development, perceived benefits, tag data, data security, levels of ethical concern, public consultation, potential impact of technological developments on ethical issues, and managers’ sources of ethical decision making.

Analysis of potential ethical issues was not found to be a central part of the process of implementing RFID technology in the libraries. The study sees RFID implementation as an informative example of current practice in the implementation of new technologies in libraries and suggests that we look at management structures and decision-making processes to clarify where responsibility for ethical considerations should lie.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.