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Library to Deploy Ultra-Long-Life RFID Tags for Historical Collection

To manage its rare legal documents, the Max Planck Institute for European History of Law plans to use tags promising a 40-year lifespan.
By Brett Neely
Jul 09, 2008With more than 320,000 items in its collection, including rare legal documents, and a variety of cataloging systems in use, such as paper card catalogs, the Max Planck Institute for European History of Law needed a new, unified asset-management system.

The institute, located in Frankfurt, Germany, recently settled on an RFID-based solution utilizing passive 13.56 MHz RFID tags that offer a 40-year lifespan—a first in the industry, according to NXP Semiconductors, which is supplying the integrated circuits (ICs) used to make the tags. The Longlife RFID labels, sold by Bibliotheca RFID Library Systems, an integrator of library RFID systems, were developed in cooperation with NXP.


To manage its collection, the Max Planck Institute for European History of Law is using an RFID-based solution utilizing passive 13.56 MHz RFID tags that offer a 40-year lifespan.

"The Longlife labels provide safe and long data retention," says library director Sigrid Amedick. The specially treated labels use a pH-neutral adhesive to attach them to historical documents, as well as to the library's regular holdings of journals and books. This adhesive is designed not to degrade any items to which the labels might be attached.

The new, long-lasting labels are vital for the Max Planck Institute's needs, Amedick adds, because many volumes in its library circulate only once every four to five years. Bar-coded labels have been a standard technology in libraries for years, he notes, but did not suit the institute's requirements because they can fall off of books after years of sitting in stacks.

What's more, under a bar-code-based system, libraries had to affix an electronic article surveillance (EAS) tag to books that would set off alarms if the assets were removed without authorization. The Longlife RFID labels provide EAS functionality, Amedick says, thereby halving the number of tags that must be affixed. The tags also come with 2048 bits of memory.

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