July 09, 2004

Vatican Library Employs RFID Tracking

Some of the world’s oldest and most treasured books and manuscripts in the world are going high-tech. For centuries, the ancient Vatican Apostolic Library has been entrusted with guarding and preserving some of the world’s greatest cultural treasures, from the oldest known Bible known as “Codex B” to thousands of priceless medals and Roman-era coins.

Now, officials at the ancient Vatican Apostolic Library, founded in 1451 by Pope Nicholas V, are implanting RFID tracking tags in the library’s 1.6 million volumes. Already, 50,000 volumes in the public reading rooms have been tagged with Texas Instruments’ Tag-it™ 13.56 MHz inlays that are compliant with ISO / IEC 15693 standards.

"RFID improves the way librarians manage their collections, streamlining and automating item retrieval, storage and inventory processes," said Bill Allen, marketing communications manager at Texas Instruments RFid Systems.

The "Pergamon" system, named after an ancient Turkish library, was installed by systems integrator Seret s.l.r. of Rome. Each volume will eventually have its own RFID tag that can store a document’s catalog data, including author, title, number of pages, and publication date. The chips can then communicate that data with hand-held monitors so librarians can locate missing books and perform routine inventory checks. In the past, a Vatican Library inventory check would have taken a month. When the RFID system is fully implemented, this task will take only a few hours.

Seret chose TI tags because they are designed to comply with worldwide standards and work with the WebOPAC online public access catalog system.

Eventually, the library plans to issue RFID-tagged badges to personnel and patrons to aid access control and loan management.

More information available from the Register.

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