“On the fly” conversion from Bibliotheca
New alert on Twitter this morning linking to a new story on the Library Technology Guides website:
“Bibliotheca announced non-proprietary “on-the-fly” RFID conversion software that allows libraries equipped with barcodes the flexibility to convert to RFID at the self-check station or book return as patrons complete routine check-out/check-in of library materials. The RFID conversion software helps unburden libraries from the amount of time, labor and cost needed to convert entire collections from barcodes to RFID. Bibliotheca’s flexible, patent-pending BiblioChip conversion software will work with Bibliotheca’s line of self-check stations and book returns, as well as products from other vendors.”
A quick scan of Bibliotheca’s website fails to reveal the original story but hopefully it’s me, not the website that’s up too early in the day.
The solution on offer offers:
- Smooth implementation of new data formats as they evolve
- Simultaneous reading of multiple formats
- Reading/writing of different vendor formats
- Reading/writing of older, non-standard chips
There would seem to be little that has been overlooked in the wish list of most librarians struggling to make sense of emerging standards, competing frequencies, data models and data content and hybrid solutions.
The focus for this operation is self-service. Items are read, re-programmed and processed in one smooth operation at the point of issue or return. A “hybrid” self-service variant will even manage electromagnetic security at the same time. However no mention is made of how other library operattions will interoperate with blank tags for example.
There are a few questions that spring to mind to which the article, and the Bibliotheca website, offer no answers at the moment. Off the top of my head at 7am these include:
- What is the impact on processing time of simultaneously reading and writing multiple formats at the pointm of issue?
- How does the system identify which EM tagged items in a stack it should activate/deactivate?
- How do borrowers know which items have been RFID processed already? (Or do they continue to read barcodes, one at a time forever? In which case what’s the point of RFID?)
- How do shelf reading operations cope with multiple formats – or items that haven’t been borrowed yet?
- How do consortia circulate stock if they’re not using Bibliotheca hardware?
I confess to being a little diappointed that one of the major RFID suppliers has developed a solution that seeks to circumvent a common standard rather than endorse it, particularly as the rest of the UK market is so close to agreement on a national standard. Perhaps the absence of Bibliotheca’s UK representatives (D Tech) from the January 19th meeting was more significant than I realised at the time?
Whilst appreciating the sales appeal of a “one size fits all” solution, I’m not sure if this solution delivers on that promise. Perhaps things will become clearer soon…