A barcode scanner is seen as an additional 'keyboard' in the system. That is, when you scan a barcode, the scanner converts the coded information into a sequence of characters which are then fed into the computer's keyboard system.
Barcode Scanner Types
While almost all barcode scanners perform the job of scanning barcode well, there are a number of options which need to be considered when purchasing a new scanner.
Whether connected by a USB cable or by radio (Bluetooth/RF, etc), cabled scanners hardly ever suffer from interference but the cable can limit operations. 'Radio' scanners can suffer from misreads (being used too far from base, signal masked by metal shelving, etc).
Some scanners allow you to scan a large number of barcodes and to then 'play back' those barcodes. BiblioTECH recommends that you DO NOT use such a feature. Library systems rely on transactions - each must be completed before the next can proceed. The 'play back' process of barcode readers does not allow for any exceptions to be handled by the librarian.
Barcode scanners are available from numerous suppliers. One example is the Schools Catalogue Information Service (SCIS) who sell barcode scanners here. All of their scanners work with BiblioTECH. Alternatively, most computer parts suppliers sell barcode scanners at competitive prices.
Note: When using a scanner with BiblioTECH you will need to be able to see and read the screen. Some scanners have a memory feature that allows for the scanning of a large number of barcodes in sequence, to be later downloaded/transferred on a computer for processing. Such a feature is NOT suitable for use with BiblioTECH. While such 'memory' scanners can be used with BiblioTECH, it would probably be more cost effective to consider purchasing two of the simpler scanners than one of these more expensive options.
Example: During a Stocktake, you use a 'memory' scanner to scan 500 barcodes, you then play those back into your library system and it reports that 5 barcodes were not recognised. You then have to go back and re-process every single book looking for the five problem barcodes - a complete waste of time. BiblioTECH provides immediate feedback after each scan - therefore it is much more efficient to use 'single' scanning when possible.
International Standard Book Number (ISBN) Barcodes
Almost all books have their ISBN printed as a barcode on the back cover. Initially, ISBNs contained 10 digits. However, the printed ISBN barcodes have always contained 13 digits. A few years ago, the standard was changed so that all new ISBNs contain 13 digits (i.e. matching the barcodes). To enable ISBN barcodes to be used in Library Systems, barcode scanners contain a special handling that translates the 13 digit barcode back into the 10 digit ISBN. This is no longer required.
Note: If your scanner is translating ISBN barcodes, check the barcode scanner's manual – it will describe the procedure to turn this feature OFF.
Checking a Barcode Scanner
BiblioTECH uses the Microsoft Windows environment to handle the scanner. Therefore, if it works OK with any Windows application, it will work with BiblioTECH. To check:
1. Open Windows NotePad and scan a barcode. If no barcode is displayed, check the connections. The text displayed should match with what is printed on the barcode label and the cursor should be on the next line (i.e. an Enter is being transmitted).
2. Check an ISBN barcode – the display should show 13 digits. If not, consult the scanner's manual to disable 'Auto-ISBN Conversion'.
In addition to using barcodes, BiblioTECH allows you to instead type Titles, Patron names, etc. The system recognises that you want a barcode processed when it receives the Enter key which a scanner automatically adds to the end of the actual barcode characters.
Note: If your scanner is not automatically adding an Enter to the end of a barcode, check the barcode scanner's manual – it will describe the procedure to turn this feature ON.