So, Michael (who works in the Archæology library at UT, I believe) apparently mentioned RFIDing all the books in the library to a guy there, and got a lecture on why he was stupid for even talking about it.
The recap Bryan (and I, being nosy) received was: 'Michael, there are twelve million volumes in the library.'
There are numerous reasons why this is a bad objection:
- Firstly, have the publishers do it, or just do it as books are acquired.
- Every time a book is checked out, RFID tag it. Now the most popular books, at any rate, have been tagged.
- Undergrads are cheap--bordering on free. Unleash them on the stacks.
- Even if you only get the 20% most popular books (see item two), you've probably covered the vast majority of activity.
- You don't even need to sort the books anymore. Better, you can sort them by popularity. (Caveat: being able to browse the physical volumes is a very useful capability--just a list of metadata is frequently insufficient. You usually want to browse by subject, not browse random books.)
- If someone fails to return a book, you assemble a strike team and visit its locale. 'Overdue fine? Oh, no, we figure the collateral damage to your apartment during extraction is penalty enough.'
- Now you don't need an expensive television to give you cancer. The books can do it too!