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Barcodes FAQ

1. What’s the big deal about distinct barcode ranges?

Sitka features a shared Evergreen database of patron and item records. Therefore, each item and patron in the database needs to have a unique barcode number. Imagine that years ago, library A and library B each assigned the barcode number 76567 to one of their own patrons. Now, when either one of those patrons goes to any Sitka library, the database won’t know which patron is which, and will likely display an error. The same goes for any items sharing barcode numbers: Evergreen won’t know which item it’s actually checking in or out. That’s why every item and patron in the shared database needs to have a unique barcode number.

2. What’s the difference between “smart” and “dumb” barcodes?

A “dumb” barcode just contains the library name, the barcode, and the barcode number beneath the barcode. A smart barcode contains extra information and is designed specifically for libraries that need to replace their barcodes. Whether rebarcoding libraries will use dumb or smart barcodes will depend on several factors, including the current ILS, the ability to close the library, and a few other factors. To make sure everything works properly, the decision about which barcode to use should be made in conjunction with the Cooperative’s Sitka staff.

Smart Barcode
Dumb Barcode


Both of these barcodes comply with the 14-digit Codabar standard (see question #3).

3. What’s the barcode standard?

What you need to know if you’re ordering:

  • 14 digit Codabar format;
  • Item records start with the digit 3;
  • Patron records start with the digit 2;
  • Standard barcode size is 2.1” x 5/8”;
  • Each library in BC has an assigned institution code.

4. Where should we put the barcodes on the books?

Barcode placement is entirely up to you. It’s important if you’re rebarcoding, though, to come up with a consistent rule about where the barcode should be placed so that nobody has to go searching for it. One good place is in the top right-hand corner of the front-cover, about 2 cm down from the top of the book, and 2 cm in from the spine. This placement also ensures that your barcodes will be compatible with self-check machines if you ever decide to get one in the future. [Not necessarily true. 3M’s 6420 self-check machine won’t work if larger books have their barcodes placed in this location. We encourage all libraries planning to purchase self-check machines to discuss thoroughly with potential vendors the placement of barcodes.]

5. We’re thinking of going with RFID. What do we need to know?

  1. Evergreen is compatible with RFID.
  2. All your items still need to be barcoded because other libraries in the province will still need to be able to use the barcode to check the item in and out.

6. What’s our institution code?

Have a look here.

7. Can we just print our own barcodes?

No. Sorry. There have been too many problems when libraries have done that in the past and in other regions. Please talk with us if you have any questions or aren’t sure how to order new barcodes.

If you have more questions about barcodes or have suggestions for this FAQ, please contact us.