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 Post subject: RFID and barcodes
PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:29 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 3:28 pm
Posts: 214
Location: University of Brighton
This is probably a daft question but I'm going to ask it anyway.
Has anyone stopped putting barcodes on stock as a result of moving to RFID? A self-issue/RFID vendor recently mentioned to me that if we moved to RFID for all our site libraries, we could do away with barcodes on stock and rely solely on the RFID tag. I understand that when you convert stock to RFID you scan the barcode to get the info onto the RFID tag, but for new stock you would get your supplier to do it, or type the info in yourself. Rather than typing, scanning the barcode seems easier to me. Also, how would Talis cope without a barcode? Doesn't the item need a unique number to issue it? And how would you identify a copy in your hand without a barcode number? I realise you wouldn't need a barcode to scan, and Item IDs exist in Talis, but surely you'd still need a number on the item, so you might as well use a barcode. Can anyone enlighten me?

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Claire Eskriett
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:26 am 

Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 11:07 am
Posts: 188
Location: Talis
AFAIK - and I'm ready to be corrected...

The RFID tag has a unique id and is 'scanned' in much the same way as a barcode would be. The RFID reader passes the tag id to the application.

Hope this helps?

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Tim Hodson
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:45 am 

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 3:28 pm
Posts: 214
Location: University of Brighton
Yes, I understand that common practice is to have the barcode number be the number held on the RFID tag, but in a scenario with no barcodes, would there be a barcode number held on the RFID tag and in Talis, but no barcode physically on the book?

And if the number won't be visible on the book, there would be no way to differentiate visually between 10 copies of the same thing, unless you scanned them all. I'm happy to be corrected if I'm missing the point (I feel I am), it just seems that there is still a need for a unique number being on the book somewhere that can be seen with the naked eye, and for a number in Talis that is the same number as the one on the RFID tag.

I suspect that perhaps the supplier I spoke to meant that in theory you don't need to purchase barcodes, but in practice in libraries we might want to. I know Marks and Spencers use RFID but they may not need to distinguish between 10 identical shirts in the way we need to tell copies of a book apart and track them. Very interesting area!

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Claire Eskriett
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University of Brighton


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 11:00 am 

Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 11:07 am
Posts: 188
Location: Talis
Ah, I see where you are going now...

Could the RFID label supplier supply the tag preprinted with the id?

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:40 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 16, 2004 5:52 pm
Posts: 203
Location: University of Sheffield
When we were talking to RFID suppliers some were of the opinion that you could do away with the barcode and others were not. The ones that thought we could do away with the barcode were often the ones that thought it would be a good idea to store lots of extra information on the RFID tag in addition to the unique number that identifies the item (which I also thought was a bad idea).

Items have to have a human-readable number in them, even if you are completely RFID system-wide (which we're not). If you have a borrower on the phone, how do you identify the copy they have? They can't read an RFID tag. Printing the number on the tag is not terribly good because we've found students have a habit of ripping the tags out of the books (thinking they are security devices. They aren't - we kept with tattle tape). Barcodes are a simple and relatively error-free way of getting a unique id number into a book.

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Andy Bussey, University of Sheffield


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 25, 2008 5:12 pm 

Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 3:28 pm
Posts: 214
Location: University of Brighton
Thanks for detailing your experience Andy. I agree that adding too much info to the tag wouldn't necessarily be a good idea - apart from anything else, as there's no link between that and the info on Talis, it would mean changing it if there were changes to your item for some reason. I like the sound of the 'licence plate method' where you have the barcode number stored on the rfid tag and that is the link to Talis, via the bridging software.
Incidentally, for anyone who wants to know, Dawsons can RFID tag for 15p per book, but you have to supply the tags you want them to use, and they only do certain RFID suppliers at the moment.

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