Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Front left horizontal? Back right vertical? What's a girl to do?

I received my most recent book order yesterday. And as I went to catalog them today, I was faced with the question I try to avoid every time I add new books to my system: Where should I put the barcode?

When my library was first automated, the barcodes were placed on the endpaper of the book. (Usually. Sometimes it was a page or two in, sometimes it was on the inside of the book cover. But mostly on the endpaper.) This is a minor pain when checking books out, but not a huge deal. When I did an inventory this summer and had to scan every barcode, which meant taking every book off the shelf, opening it, finding the barcode, and scanning it? It was a GINORMOUS pain.

Since doing the inventory (well, before that, but particularly since that), I have been thinking about changing the barcode placement on my books. But my deeply ingrained need for consistency made it hard for me to change. I have A LOT of books with barcodes on the end paper--if I change now it will be YEARS, maybe even decades, before all of my barcodes are in a consistent place. This has serious potential to drive me crazy.

So when I started processing my new book order today I grabbed the first book at put the barcode on the endpaper. And looked at it. And realized, in one of those crystallizing moments they use an example when teaching about epiphanies, that I was being an idiot.

So I grabbed the next book, and placed the barcode vertically on the upper right hand corner on the back of the book. And it makes so much sense. It's the easiest location for inventory, it rarely if ever obscures important information, and will also make checking books in and out easier.

These little shifts can make a huge difference, but they seem like an overwhelming undertaking, because--if you're anything like me--you feel the need to change everything all at once. And, ideally, I would love to move all the barcodes on my books, but that is nowhere near being realistic. So I make an incremental change, and wait for the rest of the library to catch up. I have to start somewhere. It will take time, but it's the right thing to do.

It's still going to drive me slightly crazy, though.

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