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3M Launches Tag Data Manager for Libraries

The software upgrade will enable libraries to add a variety of tag data formats to their RFID systems, and to provide a migration path to the proposed ISO RFID tag data standard.
By Beth Bacheldor
Jan 18, 2008The Library Systems division of 3M unveiled a product this week designed to help libraries maneuver the myriad RFID tag data formats used by RFID-enabled library systems, currently and in the future. It also provides a migration path to the evolving ISO RFID tag data standard.

The 3M Tag Data Manager lets libraries support the variety of proprietary RFID tag data formats utilized by different RFID-enabled library systems. The software can be downloaded onto 3M's existing products—such as its 3M SelfCheck system, which enables patrons to check out, return and renew RFID-tagged loaned media, as well as pay fines and other fees—without the aid of library staff.

Libraries have been employing RFID for several years to augment security systems, manage inventory, offer self-checkout and automate returns. The library systems typically work with RFID tags that operate at 13.56 MHz and support the ISO 15693 and 18000-3 air-interface protocols, which specify the manner in which data is shared between tags and readers. Most systems, however, incorporate proprietary tag data formats, which are akin to the language with which tags communicate, because there hasn't been a standard.

"Because there have been no standards for data format," says Jacob Haas, 3M Library Systems' marketing manager, "vendors have created proprietary tag data formats." The lack of an international standard has spurred individual countries to adopt their own standards, Haas notes, including France, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands.

Without a common standard, libraries find it difficult to share books—which many local and state libraries, as well as academic institutions, like to do—because the RFID labels may employ different data formats that can be read only by specific library RFID systems.

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