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The Vatican Library in Rome, home of nearly two million books, manuscripts and other items, has adopted radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to identify and manage a big chunk of its large collection. Systems integrator Seret s.r.l. has tagged more than 50,000 of the Vatican Library's 120,000 volumes in its public reading rooms.

Using RFID, the library is finding misplaced books more quickly, maximising floor space with frequently requested items and streamlining the inventory process.

Previously, administrators closed the library for an entire month each year to verify its contents, manually cross-referencing what was found on each shelf against the library's collection database. When the RFID project is completed, the Vatican estimates inventory checking will take only half a day.

Each TI-RFID inlay stores the individual book or document's catalog data on a specially designed 'library friendly' tag that prevents item damage. The printed tags also include visible text, allowing for faster labeling. When new data is added to an item, the record in the library's collections database is simultaneously updated via wireless communication using a handheld reader and software management system.

The library plans to extend the system to include access control, loan management and parking management by issuing RFID-tagged badges to staff, students and researchers.

The Vatican solution isn't the first RFID implementation for libraries. During the ABF (Association des Bibliothécaires Français) congress in Toulouse last month Nedap France presented its RFID applications for libraries. ®

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