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When I opened (in 1997) a new school library at a new K - 8 school where few 
schools in the district were automated, I relied on the collective wisdom of LM_NET 
to do the barcode placement. I didn't listen to one automation sales rep who said 
it would be cheaper (no covers needed!) to place them on the inside flyleaf. I 
placed them on the outside back upper right corner where it was easy to scan for 
circ and inventory purposes. The cost of adding the cover was minimal and worth the 
10 cents or so investment when compared to the efficiency factor. There was some 
information lost on some paperback/prebound books, but it was usually negligible in 
that position.

At orientation, I made a very strong point of announcing that any book with barcode 
or spine labels missing or damaged upon return would result in a $5 charge for EACH 
label needing replacement. I emphasized to the students that NO BOOK would be 
checked out with missing or damaged labels and it was expected they be returned in 
the same condition. If students noticed any problem, they could simply bring the 
book back and let us repair it before it was lost or became unusable. They did. The 
first year we had only one barcode damaged beyond repair. Since it was intentional, 
the teacher and I had a serious discussion with the entire class, because it was 
unclear who had actually damaged the label. After that, we had no significant 

I am still glad I placed them outside - there is no need to OPEN and CLOSE each 
book each time they are checked in or out. I did have volunteers write in the 
barcode number on the verso (reverse of the Title page) in red ink. Since that 
point in time, I have worked with my favorite vendor, and for a slight additional 
amount, I have them add a second barcode to the verso. With other vendors I have 
student volunteers match up the extra barcodes (unpeeled) to the books, then I 
check for accuracy and affix.

I am now at a K - 6 site where the original barcoding was done in haste and 
barcodes were placed inside, in willy-nilly fashion - some on the inside cover, 
others on the first flyleaf horizontally, and some vertically, others on several 
pages farther inside. What a mess! Checkout was a constant battle to open and close 
books quickly, and often just to locate the barcode. Inventory by scanning was 
unfathomable. By the end of my first year I made the decision to change the barcode 
placement on all new books and began transferring barcodes to the back of the 
current collection. The only change I made from my original site was that instead 
of placing them vertically at the top right, I now place them horizontally at the 
top right back. I secure them with a wide piece of book mending tape (not strapping 
tape which will yellow).

All my students have a shelfmarker with their name, room number, and barcode on it 
- this is their library "pass" and library card all-in-one. The barcode is at the 
far right end placed vertically, then the entire marker is laminated. Each grade 
level has a different color construction paper color. Kids simply place their 
markers inside the largest book extending the barcode part out above the book's 
barcode, then stack (staggered) the other book(s) with the barcodes lined up below. 
It's a simple procedure to scan their barcode and very quickly scan the remaining 
ones without shuffling books (My scanner is on a holder and placed so students can 
scan their own without pressing the trigger). Having them outside and staggered 
makes scanning in multiple books simple and quicker too. 

Now in my 4th year here, many of the books (I focused on the most popular shelves 
or authors first) have had the barcode moved and all new books are ordered with one 
barcode outside and a spare inside on the verso. I've already started inventory - I 
don't have the luxury of a portable scanner, instead, I have a crew of 5th and 6th 
graders who come in a recess and each pull 5 or 6 books from the shelf, stagger 
them, scan them (I set to Inventory mode) and then reshelve them. One student 
monitors the reshelving. They were able to inventory the entire fiction section 
during one full week of just 20 minute morning recess time, saving me a lot of back 
ache and arm pain.

Again, I stress at orientation that damage to labels is $5 per label, and damaged 
or lost library passes are $2 to replace. Teachers collect returned passes so loss 
is generally not an issue. I stress that passes are not bookmarks and DO NOT GO 
HOME. The markers at about 12" long by 4" wide, so they are not as easily lost as a 
small card.

This system has worked very well for me and the students. Substitute and student 
teachers are always impressed with the efficiency of our system. Efficiency is 
essential when you have only one paid staff member (myself) working part-time (3.5 
hours per day) and a student population of over 600 plus 30 teachers who actively 
use library resources! I rarely have parent volunteers - most of our parents work 
or don't speak English.

The only additional idea was a teacher's - she wanted a "Library Pass" barcode too! 
So I made one for each teacher from multi-colored construction paper. They were a 
big hit! Teachers can send their marker with a student with a request list attached 
or come to the library and can check out their own materials without me needing to 
key in their number.

Joanne Ladewig, Library Media Technician (a.k.a. "Library Lady")
Lawrence Elementary School, GGUSD
Garden Grove, CA USA

---Comments are my own and may not reflect the views of GGUSD.

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