Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Libraries and bar codes

The Wells Branch Community Library near me, which serves the Wells Branch municipal utility district, has a simple system for book checkout. They have PCs set up with self-service signs on them and a bar code gun hung nearby.

The Austin Public Library has a similar system, but instead of a gun you line up your book on a surface; I like the gun better.

The Wells Branch system has you scan your library card to start, then scan books, then scan a "done" code when you're done; the done code is on a little card. It's just brain-dead simple. The only interface you use is the gun.

The Austin Public Libary system is a fancy machine with a touch screen. It's slower and harder to use.

The Wells Branch library makes cards by printing bar code stickers, putting them on a business card, and laminating them. The whole library feels like some smart college students put it together on the cheap, and it works well anyway. I like it.


  1. That sounds like my kind of library. Of course, I like most things that make sense and seem like they could have been put together on the cheap by smart college students. :o)

  2. Are you saying your library allows its patrons, many of whom are no doubt minors, the free and unsupervised use of LASER guns?!

    How long until some innocent bystander is blinded? Or some ne'er do well surreptiously scans the book(s ) of another patron, preventing that person from checking out the item(s) when it is their turn?

    Or someone steals the bar code gun by cutting it's cord?

    This way lies anarchy!