Do I Need Both Bar Codes and RFID for Library Applications?

By RFID Journal

  • TAGS

I work in a big library. What is the benefit of having a printed bar code on a label, if we have an RFID tag under that label? Are there any printers made especially for encoding a tag only, not printing the bar code (in other words, having an empty label)? I want to know the steps for creating an RFID system, from buying the tags and printer, its application and so forth. How can I generate the data that will be encoded on the tag, and can I use EPCs?

—Name withheld


There are several companies, such as Bibliotheca, that sell complete systems—tags, readers and software. The benefit of having a bar code on a label is that it can serve as a backup if the chip stops functioning, and can be used in areas in which an RFID interrogator might not be handy. A company called Adasa offers a wearable RFID encoder that produces tags without labels. I am not aware of printers that encode tags without bar codes, however. The reality is that if you don’t want to use a bar code as backup, you can simply encode the tags with a reader.

You cannot utilize Electronic Product Codes (EPCs) unless you join EPCglobal. Presently, book makers aren’t tagging books and encoding the tags with EPCs. One day, that might happen, and then EPCs would be a good way to track the books. But for now, if you have an electronic database of volumes with their associated Dewey Decimal Classification numbers, you could encode the Dewey number on a tag, and then use that information to track the books.

Here are some stories we have published regarding library RFID applications:

New Orleans Library Reopens With RFID

Colorado Library Checks Out RFID

Hamburg Library Moves to RFID

Publisher Tags All Library Books

For additional library-related stories, click here.

—Mark Roberti, Editor, RFID Journal