Fingerprints to Enter the Library

Lately identification becomes an issue in libraries, especially academic libraries. Many academic libraries have late-night hour. Some even open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. (See also But Every Other College Library Is Open 24/7 on ACRLblog) For security reasons, many academic libraries required late night readers to show their ID for security persons. UNC‘s Daily Tar Heel also featured about this issue once last month. However, it becomes quite controversial with the recent case of an UCLA student tasered at Powell Library.

In Thailand, many academic libraries restrict their patrons to be only institution affiliated. Some even require entrance fees for outsiders. Therefore, many libraries install turnstiles with ID reader for physically restricting the access. The authentication ranges from physically check with the photo, barcode reader, magnetic tape, and even RFID. Identification cards seem to problematic to many libraries, including Chiang Mai University library.

However, begining the first semester of academic year 2006, the library has implemented this biometric authentication to access the library at all time. The implementation is pararell with the old system which is using magnetic signal. In the library’s newsletter (August, 2006), Weerachai Techawatchareekul, deputy IT manager of the library, commented that the use of magnetic ID cards, issued by the bank, has many concerns, including privacy and security of information. The library’s user database has to be synchonized with the bank. There is also an problem with the effectiveness of data transfer from the bank.

Commercially, the magnetic readers are tied with its vendors which is highly monopolized in terms of acquisition and maintenance. From user perspectives, the library found identity fraud. Many people could not enter the library because they forgot their ID. These affects the library usage statistics. Thus, they decide to go with fingerprint technology.


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