<<Normally bar codes are not used in archives...There is a point at
which the cost effectiveness has to be measured>>

I will preface this by admitting I am not an archivist, but...I would
highly recommend the use of barcodes.

The use of barcodes is the most efficient and accurate way to record
data.  Barcodes can be affixed on the item or used from a reference
listing attached to a storage location, retained centrally or in a
mobile index.  The technology is very inexpensive.  We had a developer
put together a simple tracking database in a couple of hours.  Direct
contact wands can be purchased for less than a hundred dollars.
Combined with a standard keyboard wedge interface, you can be up and
running in a couple of minutes.  The wedge makes barcode scans look like
keyed text, so you can use barcodes anywhere you use a keyboard.
Portable scanners are a bit more but offer considerably more
flexibility.  Laser scanners can read both 1D and 2D barcodes.
Virtually every barcode reader today can auto discriminate between the
various barcode formats providing even more flexibility.

Using barcodes for checkout purposes is a no brainer.  Every archives
out to be checking things out, even if it is for internal purposes.  A
quick scan of the item barcode and a badge and you have recorded who has
it.  Want to return it to its storage location, scan the barcode a
second time to cancel checkout and quickly bring up exactly where it

Want to store materials rapidly, link the barcode to the item, find a
place for it and scan the location (shelf, cabinet, box or whatever).
Need a quick inventory, scan the barcodes of the items.  Want to verify
inventory?  Create a small application that will contain all of the
items that should be present.  Then as you scan the items available,
have the application subtract them from the list.  What remains is what
you are missing.

The potential for improvements to our work process by use of bar code
technology is virtually unlimited. No technology we have available today
is less expensive and offers a greater return on investment.

Bill Roach, CRM
Enterprise EDMS Coordinator
State of North Dakota
ITD/Records Management

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