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German VÖBB embrace bibliotheca’s new generation of cutting-edge products

bibliotheca, the leading global supplier of RFID technology to libraries, has received praise for the recent large-scale installation of its advanced RFID-based automated material handling solution, with the deployment of a brand new series 400 smartreturn™ and smartsort™ system in one of Berlin’s major VÖBB (Berlin public library network) libraries, the Dietrich-Bonhoeffer-Library.

“Compared to other devices on the market, the new 400 series products show in practice to be a real quantum leap in terms of high-speed item processing and minimal operational noise while returning and sorting. The latest tests have proven that 25 items can be returned in less than one minute using two return machines, which is an enormous improvement for our all-day library practice”, commented May-Britt Grobleben, VÖBB RFID project manager.

The deployment of the smartreturn™ 400 in the foyer of the library provides enhanced and flexible return options to the library’s patrons, allowing them to return items between 06:00 am and 22:00 pm daily. “Our customers appreciate this enhanced service especially during morning hours before the library has been opened and even on Sundays”, explained Anna Weymann, VÖBB PR-manager. Additionally, the self-service functionality offered with the smartserve™ 700 and smartreturn™ 400 frees up library staff, enabling them to provide a more efficient and effective customer service.

For VÖBB, the need to share items around their library network was an important early consideration, to provide the maximum level of service and convenience to their staff. May-Britt Grobleben added “Being interconnected, it is important to us to provide a homogeneous, first-class range of features and performances to all our customers and staff in every library of the network. RFID empowers us in a most modern and convenient way to implement this plan. Any item can be returned to any library within the network”.

In implementing this end-to-end RFID solution, the libraries hope to encourage very high levels of self-service: “It is our ambition to increase the annual number of patrons in Berlin from 410,000 in 2009 up to half a million. At that point, 25 million issues will be expected, of which 90 per cent should be handled via self-service systems. What’s more, additional staff resources will be invested in, enhancing customer services”, the project manager continued.

Several customer specifications regarding soft- and hardware, which are in the process of being developed and implemented, make this project even more attractive: The self-check devices will offer card payment options via Chip and PIN, and within 12-months, the network will replace patron’s cards with modern RFID user cards that feature a MiFare chip and a barcode for a smoother process.

Since July 2011, bibliotheca’s RFID system has been deployed in 23 VÖBB libraries successfully. The entire RFID project of around 75 libraries and mobile libraries is expected to be completed by autumn 2013. The overall order volume is substantial: 161 smartserve™ 700 self-service kiosks, 81 smartgate™ 400 security units and 22 smartreturn™ 400 return points will be installed. Hartmut Marder, bibliotheca Germany CEO, explains: “The complexity of this network project is an exciting challenge, which we will meet with first-class service and the utmost professionalism. The overall workflow for all installations will be coordinated and conducted by our highly reliable RFID professionals and we are delighted to be working with VÖBB.”

About the VÖBB and the project

Between them, the VÖBB, the lending and cataloguing network of the 12 Berlin districts and the ZLB (Central and regional library foundation in Berlin) offer a choice of 6.3 million media items. The latter can be searched online and ordered remotely from any library or even from home. In 2010, over 23 million items were borrowed and 500,000 media items transported between districts. RFID makes this service even easier to use and media management more efficient and secure.

The project for introducing RFID is called "TENIVER“(technological innovation for information delivery) and is financed by Land Berlin and the European Union (European Regional Development Fund - ERDF).

About bibliotheca

bibliotheca is the world’s largest company dedicated to the development, deployment and support of library technology solutions, designed to improve operational efficiency and enhance customer service. We focus on public, private and academic library markets. Our reach extends across the globe, with direct operational offices in North America, Europe and Australia, together with a range of distributors covering Asia, Africa and Latin America. We are proud to work with over 3,500 unique library sites with a deployed equipment range in excess of 5,000 individual self-service units and over 100 automated materials handling (sorter) systems. In satisfying this range of customers, bibliotheca has deployed well over 200 million RFID labels to the library sector alone, and continues to supply in excess of 50 million each year

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