With apologies for cross-posting…


I thought it might be worth mentioning here something that has come to light as a result of some work I’m doing in Ireland at the moment.


The Irish are in the throes of some major restructuring of their public library service. One aspect of the work is the acquisition of an LMS for the entire public library service. The tender evaluation process is currently underway so I have to tread carefully around anything relating to any aspect of the procurement. However there is a parallel project underway in which I also have some involvement pertaining to the recent announcements that Ireland is planning to follow Denmark’s example and create  “Open Libraries” (http://www.irishtimes.com/news/consumer/self-service-libraries-to-allow-night-time-checkouts-1.1640032)....


At present there is, so far as I am aware,  no plan to allow borrowing and return of items on a national scale - but a question arose a couple of days ago which could have wider implications if not addressed at an early stage. I wrote a short blog yesterday to explain my concern in more detail for those with an appetite for such things (http://wp.me/p13Nlt-hi) but I thought it might be worth briefly mentioning it here as well.


It concerns the inclusion of ownership information on RFID tags encoded with the international standard for data – ISO 28560. Many libraries now mandate this standard in ITTs and RFPs (probably because Mark Hughes and I wrote the guidelines that way!) but it seems that despite this mandate some suppliers – and some librarians - may be suggesting that this is unnecessary.


Now in Denmark readers can, for example, pick up a book in Copenhagen and return it in Silkeborg. They are also using self-service to make it possible to do this when library branches are unstaffed.


In part this enterprise is supported by using RFID tags to carry information about items that can be read without the need to connect to an LMS. One of the elements is information about the owning library. In the 28560 data standard this information is carried as an ISIL code*.


Now whilst I can understand that, since we don’t yet have a truly national public library service in the UK we don’t need to have an ownership element on our RFID tags but supposing we did – or if we simply wanted to run more efficient ILL schemes - this information could be very valuable indeed. And it costs nothing to add since 28560 allocates space for the data anyway.


And something that concerns me even more is that the library in question seems to have been unaware that its ownership data wasn’t already present on their tags. Their tender had requested full compliance with ISO 28560-2 after all…


So, if RFID features in your plans at all please consider adding the ISIL data – it may save a great deal of time, money and pain later on. And make sure you get what you pay for!




* Not all countries have an agency to issue such codes (the UK’s is here) so libraries registered with OCLC may use that code instead. Many countries – including the UK – base their coding on the MARC Organisation Code so there is at least the possibility of finding a quick and simple way to uniquely identify any item in circulation in a country.


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