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Barcodes: a specific challenge

December 13, 2011

That last post really discussed questions our team began to develop as we got further along in understanding how this transfer would impact us.  It came down to one question really, “how much do we have to be the same and how much can we be different?”.  We needed to be able to use a universal database but allow for individual library policies to be developed.  It took some table time to figure out (and we still aren’t quiet done) but it wasn’t as complicated as I think we were fearing it would be.  Evergreen allows for a lot of flexibility and that is a major benefit for our current library structure.  Where things really started to get sticky were talks on the actual migration of data and what kind of physical changes would need to be made to the collection in order to correspond to the changes to a bib record.

For example; if my library shared a book with a campus in VA only one bib record would be searchable in the OPAC.  The other holding would just be an additional “copy” within Evergreen.  So when the migration happens who has to change the sticker on the book and how are they going to do it?  That was the major concern, some of our libraries are large and to replace barcodes on 10K plus items was overwhelming to think about.  And here is the kicker – Evergreen doesn’t provide barcodes within the ILS.  I realize that not all systems do and that many libraries get their codes from a book jobber or perhaps even create their own but logistically what do you do when you need 40+ campus libraries to merge material (including barcodes) ensure there are no duplicates and not have to put a new sticker on every item in your collection?

Our first step was to develop a really short survey to find out what barcodes were being used and how they were being generated.  That survey needed to be understood by library workers/managers without an MLS.  This is the step we are currently at.  Next our plans are to analyze the data and decide on a course of action.  It looks like right now the plan will be for Equinox to clean up duplicates of our records with a migration they will perform with our largest libraries (ones with collections over 1,000 titles).  After that we will have to see.  One thing that has made things a little easier are the numbers of libraries that don’t use barcodes at all and going forward everyone will have a system set up to have barcodes created that won’t duplicate anything already in the system.

Has anyone out there ever had this challenge?  What did your system or library do?  How did you tackle it?  What advice do you have?

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