Publisher Tags All Library Books

By Jonathan Collins

The leading supplier of books to Dutch libraries is applying RFID labels to all new books to enable automatic management of books within libraries.

Dutch publishing company NBD|Biblion is tagging all the books it sells for Dutch libraries to enable automatic book tracking within libraries and to give its products a competitive edge.

Maarten Tiebout

NBD|Biblion sells 2.7 million books to Dutch libraries annually, representing 80 percent of the library market in Netherlands. By adding an RFID smart label to each one, the publisher believes it will gain an advantage over its rivals.

“We started this to get a competitive advantage over competitors by offering extended service to our library customers. At this stage we’re just aimed at customers, i.e., libraries. In the future, NBD logistics may benefit as well,” says Maarten Tiebout, RFID project leader at NBD|Biblion.

The decision to apply smart labels to its library books was made in March 2004, and the company is now applying smart labels to its books at no extra cost to its library customers. There are some 25 libraries that have already deployed RFID systems in Holland, but that number is growing rapidly, says Tiebout.

NBD|Biblion is using adhesive-backed smart labels that measure 54x86mm and contain Philips Semiconductor’s 13.56 MHz I-code SLI (ISO 15693) chips. The labels are being supplied equally by two companies—UPM Rafsec and Smartag—with more than 1 million labels already delivered to NBD|Biblion.

“We selected two providers in order not to be completely dependant on either one. RFID is a process which we plan to continue in years to come. Both suppliers’ tags that are equal in terms of chip, physical dimensions and performance,” says Tiebout.

To tag books, NBD| installed two automated label applicators that print NBD’s logo, a zebra code and the bar code number; encode a label’s RFID tag; and insert the label the inside of the finished book’s back cover, close to the spine. NBD|Biblion is encoding its RFID labels with a unique ID code that conforms to a data model called the "Generic Set of Requirements RFID for public libraries," which was developed by the Dutch Library Association. The ID code contains unique identifiers for a library item, a library ID and an order reference number from NBD|Biblion.

“Having books already tagged saves libraries the cost of having to tag their new acquisitions. Then tags can be used for identification in book circulation, with self-service becoming increasingly popular, as well as in theft protection and library logistics such as shelf control and inventory,” says Tiebout.

According to NBD|Biblion, libraries are deploying RFID readers from a range of RFID vendors that all support the same Dutch Library Association standard. As an added service to its customers, NBD|Biblion is also offering the possibility of tagging existing collections of books to migrate their entire collections to RFID-based library management solutions.

NBD|Biblion says its RFID label-applicator deployment was carried out primarily by its own engineers with some help from RFID consultants RFID-Net, which is based Boskoop, Netherlands. NBD|Biblion is looking at how RFID tagging of its books might help with its own logistics operations in future.

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