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Hamburg Library Moves to RFID

The city's central library and 17 branches will start deploying a system to manage the circulation of 2 million items per year. Patrons will check materials in and out themselves.
By Rhea Wessel
At the main branch, where the kiosks are attached to the sorter, patrons will slide items forward and the sorter will pull them in via the belt, under which is mounted an RFID interrogator. The sorter works with cross-belts that allow a capacity of 4,500 items per hour.

"It swallows the items and transports them further to the sorting system," says Peter Elmvang, marketing manager for FKI Logistex Europe.

Items will be sorted according to the requirements requested, and will wind up neatly stacked on trolleys or in crates, greatly reducing the repetitive motions usually required by staff, such as bending to pick up stacks of books. The sorting machine can be as big as 22 meters long, 2 meters wide and 3 meters high.

At present, FKI Logistex plans to deploy a total of 41 Library Mate kiosks each containing one reader per station and up to 2 million transponders. Tagsys has been identified as the most likely vendor for tags and readers.

The massive task of applying RFID tags to books, DVDs and CDs is set to begin in October. The inside back cover of each book will be tagged with a square adhesive tag label. DVDs and CDs will be tagged with a round transponder inside a circular label, allowing them to retain the balance needed to spin properly, and keeping the transponder from interfering with DVD or CD play. Since discs within a set are tagged individually, the system can confirm that a complete set has been returned. If discs are missing, a message to the patron will pop up on the touch screen.

To check out items, patrons will put their membership cards in a slot, where their cards' bar-code number will be scanned. They then set their items on a desk, using guideline markings indicating where the materials should be placed for optimal reading by the RFID interrogator underneath.

FKI Logistex's application is up and running in libraries in Denmark and the United States. The Hamburg installation will be the first FKI Logistex system to include so many branches.

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