Brimbank Libraries are considering stopping the use of barcodes. Fairly soon we will be totally RFID and, when that happens, we don’t see the need to have barcodes AND an RFID tag on the book. In fact, the only things we are looking to stick on our items are an RFID tag and a call number sticker. No more stamping and spotting and stickering for us! Our RFID tags will be printed with a pretty design and come with a barcode number printed onto the tag itself. We will then pop that tag on the outside of the item so that the book is ‘branded’ as one of ours.

There are some problems with this. Our vendor have given us dire warnings about sticking the tag on the outside of the book. They believe that the constant rubbing of the book against other books (and in bags, etc) will damage the tag beyond belief. We are testing this currently and, after heaps of tests, the only thing that seems to kill the tag is if the tag is bent in the wrong spot (which will occur whether it is stuck inside the book or outside the book) or if you scour the small chip in the middle of the tag with something sharp.

Honestly, our items are only meant to last between 5-8 years anyway so it’s not going to cause untold grief if they die early.

I think that I must be missing something important though. I have not been able to find another library that has stopped using barcodes because they are using RFID tags. 3M (our RFID vendor) know of only one other library in the world who don’t use barcodes, and they were a library that went direct from a card catalogue to RFID…they are also a special use library in a government department and don’t have our turnover issues.

If anyone out there can think of any other negatives to doing this then I’d love to hear them. Currently, all I have are the fact that RFID tags could be damaged on the outside of the item (even though I will cover them with contact or some kind of plastic laminate) and that our RFID tags will have numbers printed in a range and we won’t have duplicates (so multi-part sets in Chinese or Vietnamese will not have an RFID tag on each item). I am getting around this second bit by probably buying a Brother P-Touch printer to print up labels with the barcode number on them. We will then stick these to items such as mutli-part sets and onto part of an AV item.

Why use barcodes?

2 thoughts on “Why use barcodes?

  • September 16, 2008 at 5:27 am

    Jealousy is a curse… But I can’t see why you need barcodes if scanners aren’t being used at all. Possibly for interlibrary loan use by libraries receiving your items, but that would be streching it to find a reason.

    Also I have a job for you to do… create an API for Scriblio so I can show Amlib stockitem location data in it:

  • September 22, 2008 at 4:02 am

    Poor jealous me (if I disposed of those pesky patrons then things would go well for my job).

    We won’t actually have barcodes on the items at all, we’ll only have a number printed onto the RFID sticker (for instances where the system/power goes down). Hopefully I’ll also have the RFID tags pre-programmed so I won’t have to faff about with that also!

    And why do I need to write the Scriblio API? We don’t use WordPress here…although we did have a play around with Scriblio a few months ago. I’m unsure how it all works though, we had another staff member play around. If you let me know some basics then I might be able to give it a shot.


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