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borrowIT CT: Statewide Barcode

borrowIT CT is a cooperative borrowing program among the state's public libraries.

Statewide Public Library Barcode

The Connecticard Borrower Service, which began in 1973, has been one of Connecticut's most successful public library cooperative services. Today, with the growth of automated systems, Connecticard borrowers frequently find that the computer barcode on their hometown library card is not useable at other libraries. They need multiple cards or multiple barcodes on their home library card to use libraries in other towns.

In 1998, Robert Gallucci, then President of the Connecticut Library Association, formed a Statewide Library Card Committee, co-chaired by Kathi Bade, to explore ways to make it possible for patrons to use all public libraries in Connecticut with a single card issued by their home library. The Connecticut State Library has participated on this committee. More recently the Connecticut Digital Library also will require a system of unique patron barcodes for patron authentication for public access to commercial databases licensed for statewide use.

As a result the following committee recommendations are being implemented:

  • That a standard barcode be used by all public libraries which are not currently automated or whose barcodes do not contain a unique prefix. This will be a 14-digit coda bar barcode with the first 5 digits constituting a unique institution prefix.
  • The State Library has created and will maintain a database of unique library barcode prefixes for every public library in Connecticut. Academic, school and special libraries will be included as requested.
  • That all non-automated libraries barcode their patron cards.
  • That all libraries with non-conforming barcodes rebarcode their patron cards as they are renewed or when patrons wish to access the Connecticut Digital Library Resources from off-site.
  • That the State Library will subsidize the purchase of the first 2,000 barcodes for those libraries with non-conforming barcodes.

Although patrons will still need a record in the computer system of each library or shared system, these records may be created using the barcode issued by their hometown library, eliminating the need for the patron to have multiple cards. A suggested procedure for registering out of town patrons, written by Kathi Bade of the Capitol Region Library Council is available.

Implementation of the Statewide Library Barcode Program
There were three parts to the implementation of the Shared Barcode Program. The status of this project as of March 2001 is as follows

Libraries Automated Via Consortia
Libraries automated via consortia (Bibliomation, CONNECT, Groton-Waterford, LEAP, and LION). This was done first because these libraries have communication and support systems in place, which enabled us to get the information to one contact person who could then get it to all the libraries in that consortium. Also, at the time this project was implemented, there were only 3 different automated systems being using by the 5 consortia (2 were on CARL, 2 on Geac / CLSI, and one of DYNIX). Therefore, the number of systems that had to be tested was small, but the number of libraries affected was large.

This project is fully implemented in consortia libraries.

However: There is still a gap in staff training; and not all staff at all libraries are actually using the home library barcode to register non-resident patrons. The committee Co-Chairs hope that by making the Guidelines for the Shared Barcode Project accessible via the Connecticut State Library web site, and publicizing it on the Connecticut Library Association web site, the Conntech mailing list, and Connecticut Libraries magazine, that we can continue to work with consortia libraries to ensure that all their staff are registering non-resident patrons with their home library barcodes.

Libraries Automated Via Standalone Systems
This part of the project involved working with the vendors of all the different automated systems in use in Connecticut libraries (at the time we started the project, there were 13 different vendors) to see if their systems would recognize barcodes from other libraries. This has been the longest phase of the project because of the need to work with all the different vendors involved. When it was verified that all automation vendors could accept 14-digit Codabar barcodes, it was decided to use this as the statewide standard format. Libraries with non-conforming patron barcodes agreed to re-barcode their patrons; and the Connecticut State Library agreed to purchase the first set of 2000 patron barcodes in the recommended format.

To continue the implementation of this part of the project, Co-Chairs Robert Gallucci and Kathi Bade worked with the Connecticut State Library to get the materials Kathi has prepared on the CSL website, and will work with Connecticut Library Association to get a link to the materials on the Connecticut Library Association website.

Non-Automated Libraries
The Connecticut State Library coordinated this part of the project, which involved assigning prefixes to all non-automated public libraries, creating and managing the database of those prefixes as well as those of the automated public and academic libraries, holding the focus groups in the spring of 2000, and financing the initial purchase of barcodes for these libraries

Non-automated libraries agreed to barcode their patron cards; and the Connecticut State Library agreed to purchase the first set of 2000 patron barcodes in the recommended format. Eastern Connecticut Libraries coordinated the purchase and distribution of the barcodes.

The work done to get this part of the project going is DONE, and it is now a matter of a continuing effort on the part of those libraries to barcode their patrons. Libraries have the option to barcode their patrons the next time they come to the library, if the patron requests a barcode because s/he wants to use an automated library of Connecticut Digital Library services, or when the current registration is being renewed.

Until all non-automated libraries barcode their patrons, automated libraries will still have to assign a barcode, which is not from the home library. It is anticipated that this may take up to three years to have it fully completed in all non-automated libraries.

Joint Statement from the year 2000-2001

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