BiblioTECH uses barcodes to facilitate speedy identification of Resources and Patrons.
Barcode usage and types
- Resources and Patrons can optionally be assigned a barcode. If not assigned, then they need to be identified by Title or Name (barcodes are not mandatory but are highly recommended).
- Barcodes must be unique within the system (across all Patrons and Resources).
- Barcodes can contain digits and/or letters (avoid barcodes that contain Space characters).
- Barcodes must contain a minimum of 1 and maximum of 30 characters.
- BiblioTECH can handle barcodes of differing formats within the same system. Additionally, the barcode format for Resources can be different to that used for Patrons (this allows the school admin system identifier to be used for Patron barcodes).
- BiblioTECH does not encode any information in barcodes (therefore, you can use a mix of barcode formats in the same system).
- BiblioTECH has facilities for handling 'special' barcode formats (e.g. 'numeric mode' where 12345, 012345 and 0012345 are treated as the same barcode).
Barcodes are commercially available via several suppliers.
Note: The pricing per label can vary based on the number of barcodes ordered.
BiblioTECH can handle a variety of barcode formats. Therefore, when purchasing additional barcodes, it is probably better to purchase barcodes in the same format as your existing ones. Just ensure you do not purchase duplicates of existing barcodes. Most barcode suppliers will check this with you. However, if you cannot locate the same barcode format or you have no barcodes, then the recommended format for BiblioTECH barcodes is a plain 12-digit barcode.
Barcode Scanners and Trouble Shooting
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.