Posted by Lori Ayre on August 16, 2005

The RFID Data Model for Libraries was just released by the RFID Data Model for Libraries Working Group last month (July 2005).

The work is spear-headed by Denmark. Danish and European organizations seem to be more cognizant than American companies that standardized RFID tags are critical to the success of library use of RFID.

In a statement issued September 9th, 2004, the Danish National Library Authority set 5 objectives for usage of RFID in Danish libraries:

  • For inter library loan safeguarding an rfid tag from one library shall be readable and usable in other libraries
  • An RFID application shall have a standardised interface to any library system
  • To ensure independence of suppliers RFID tags shall be available from several sources
  • To ensure backwards compatibility RFID tags shall use the same identification numbers as used on present barcode systems
  • Danish library RFID applications shall comply with existing international standards.

Hooray! Imagine RFID tag that would actually work during inter-library loan! They're thinking ahead over there.

So, the working group decided to develop a data model for each tag that would work for all library purposes. They came up with a model that includes space on the tag for the following mandatory pieces of information:

Type of usage:

  • In acquisition: Item has not been entered into the library inventory yet. It can not be circulated.
  • Item for circulation
  • Item not for circulation
  • Discarded item. Item is discarded and permanently removed from circulation.

Number of parts: For example, book with CD would be 2 parts

Original part number: The part number of the book/CD combination.

Primary item ID: Current bar code number

Country of owner library

Owner library

Media format: Used to define items that need special handling (by sorting equipment, for example)

They are also defining optional items in the data model including supplier id, item identification (by supplier), order number, invoice number. Again, anticipating that one day libraries might want to optimize their acquisition process and suppliers might want to use the tags in their own manufacturing and delivery process.

The working group came out very clearly in support of the ISO/IEC 18000 family of standards for air interface standards...a standard I do not believe any of the current vendors follow. Vendors, let me know if I'm wrong about this.

What isn't ready yet: Application Family Identifiers (AFI):
These are used on the tag to control which tags talk to which interrogators. Some variation of AFIs are used for item security (is this checked out: yes or no) but I'm referring to a international AFI standard here. In other industries (medical, supply chain, etc), they define the AFIs that are pertinent to them. There are no official library AFIs. Nonetheless, Denmark has proposed two library AFIs (checked in, checked out) and though this isn't yet supported by any of the standards organizations, it's a start. The idea is that if your tag has a "library AFI" on it, it won't be read by the scanner at Walmart or the local health clinic. Let's hope the Danes keep at it.

The working group isn't taking up privacy issues but they did support and include as Annex C, the ALA's Resolution on Radio Frequency Identification and Privacy Principles.

I'd like to see more participation in this working group by our own RFID companies. Bibliotheca and Tagsys are members. Checkpoint is nowhere in sight. Wouldn't it be nice if they got on board?