Libraries, sometimes when you stick those barcode labels on the front of your books, you obscure information on the cover, sometimes changing the meaning of the title entirely. Seriously, there are lots of places to put a sticky barcode, why the front cover?
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I get more annoyed when the description of the book on the back cover is blocked by a barcode. How is a patron supposed to know if they are interested in the book if they can’t read the back cover?
The front cover is more sensitive to RSI issues. It means the book doesn’t have to be flipped or opened to be checked out. Patrons using self-check aren’t the issue; this is a big issue for libraries where circ desk staff are pushing thousands of items under scanners all day.
There is no “win” on this issue; the barcodes really need to be consistently placed (an inventory issue; if you’re trying to inventory a huge collection it helps if the book can be tilted forward and scanned). Put them on the back, they obscure the blurb (and require flipping, as most people will present a book face-up). Put them on the front, they obscure the cover. Put them inside, the book has to be flipped open and then shut.
Another case for RFID… seriously.
I think that raises a really good question, Karen. We’re always walking theline in libraries between being good places for patrons to be, but also being decent, if not downright good, places to work. The RSI issue is a real one, especially when people are handling many books a day. You’d think there would be a creative way to solve it, maybe putting the barcode over the pre-existing barcode that’s on the backs of the books? In any case, it’s a quagmire to be sure.
As a former retail employee before entering the field of Library Science, I noticed that almost nobody looks for a barcode on the front of a book.
Why? Because publishers put barcodes on the backs of books. I have seen patrons flip materials over to the back, look for a barcode, then flip it over to the front and scan(or worse, scan the retail barcode).
The back is where the barcode belongs.
At the medium-sized PL that I used to work at, we settled on putting them on the back cover over the UPC symbol. No important information was obscured, and it covered up the UPC symbol, which had sometimes accidentally gotten scanned in the past.
You put it on the outside so:
1) it’s easy/quick for people with hand barcode scanners to do quick look ups for projects in stacks
2)God forbid, your library should be flooded, you don’t have to open the book to take inventory before you send it off to be rescued . . . if at all possible
But puh-lease, some common sense is needed so we don’t obscure/destroy meaning in our own collections
Placing it over the UPC does mean that the book will probably have to be pulled all the way from its slot on the shelf in order to be scanned for inventory. That’s time, which is money, and it also risks misplacing the book.
I’m totally with you on “please don’t obscure stuff the reader wants.” But in anything except a tiny boutique library, these decisions become big, big, big.
Oh, and RSI is a money issue, too–you can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars on RSI.
Also, any time you save money… it means more “other stuff.” Like books, wifi, comfy chairs… :)
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