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Patron Records and Barcodes

Patron Records

Depending on the automation system you purchase, you may be able to load patron data that you have in a local database into another system. Some automation vendors can load Microsoft Access data or a People Soft database into their system. If you can use pre-existing data this will be a big money and time saver.

Just as you create specific subject categories in your collection fiction, non-fiction, and so forth, create specific types in your patron database. Possible categories may include adult, juvenile, student, out of county, etc. The vendor you choose should support multiple types of patrons.

Library cards are another consideration. Depending on budget and maintenance factors, you may want to give each patron their own card, or perhaps it is easier to keep patrons barcode numbers in a Rolodex.

Patron Fields to Consider:

  • Name (first, last )
  • Street Address
  • Mailing Address
  • Zip Code
  • Telephone Number
  • Social Security Number (Not required)
  • Grade Level
  • Notes
  • Birth date
  • Type of patron: Adult, Juvenile, Student, Senior Location: Local, out of county, out of state

Library Barcodes Standards

14 digit barcodes. The two primary types used by library automation vendors are Codabar or Code 39 (Code 3 of 9). Either of these two should work with library automation vendors. Of course, it is always wise to find out what type of barcodes your automation vendor supports before purchasing them.

What is the difference between smart and dumb barcodes?

Smart barcodes display detailed information such as title, author and call number. In addition, smart barcodes come with an online item record for each material in your database. These records can be pre-loaded if your automation vendor performs your retrospective conversion. Dumb barcodes are simply a barcode number. You will have to assign these barcodes to each item in your collection.

Advantages of smart barcodes

Save time during the bar-coding process because items are easily identified


  • Higher costs
  • Inaccuracies between what is actually on the shelf and what title is assigned to the barcode
  • Some items may have barcodes while others somehow were skipped

As a rule of thumb, purchase your system first before attaching smart barcodes.

Bar-coding an entire collection can be extremely time consuming. One way to make this process easier is to purchase duplicate barcodes one for the shelf list card and the other for the item. Each time you barcode an item, barcode the shelf list card as well. For duplicate copies, barcode duplicates on the same shelf list card. When you do retrospective conversion, you will have the barcode for the item record as well, thus, creating your item record database.

Where do I place Barcode numbers?

  • Place the barcode where it is easiest to scan.
  • On the cover of the book (upper-left hand corner)
  • On the fly-leaf inside the front cover for books
  • Inside near the book pocket
  • Wherever you place it, make sure it can be scanned by any automation checkout system you may purchase such as a self-check out device.
  • Don't forget to place book tape over the barcode to protect them. Even better, purchase laminated barcodes.

For additional information, email: Regan Harper (

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