or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

More Fun With Barcodes

   February 10th, 2011

Example BarcodeIn the course of looking at scanning digital barcodes, I also ran across some resources for making print barcodes.

Since most libraries rely rather heavily on barcodes, this might be news to no one but me - but I still had fun with it. Did you know there are lots of websites that let you type in numbers to create free custom barcodes? The internet thinks of everything.

My two favorite are:

All of the websites I played with will generate a barcode image that can be saved, printed, etc. Some also had the Web 2.0 embed function, which is useful for embedding in a page meant to be displayed on a mobile phone.

But being able to generate and print custom barcodes is what I liked - perfect for those library patrons who have memorized their library card number over the years, but lost their physical card. Now, instead of having to give them a new card with a new number, we can just print a new barcode for their old number, put it on a new library card with tape or a barcode protector, and they are back in business.

Not to mention, of course, the endless possibilities for using QR codes in libraries.

Another fun thing - barcodes aren't just for numbers:

Example of longer barcode

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10 Responses to “More Fun With Barcodes”

  1. Chris Says:


  2. Chris Says:

    Actually, I’m kinda surprised you didn’t include a barcode or QR code for SAL.net 🙂

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  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Chris: ha – Subway. And I’ve stayed away from QR codes so far because I don’t know anything about them, and I know other people know lots more than me. I’m going to a workshop in June that will talk about QR code, so expect more about them then.

  5. Alyssa Says:

    Hi there – doesn’t your OPAC software have that function built in already? We use Follett here, and I believe that there is a function that allows you to reprint barcodes based on patron numbers anyway, without having to go to a third party. I am a school librarian and have so few patrons that I just go by last name, but I’ve bumped into this feature while cataloging.

  6. Adam Steele Says:

    We use these kind of sites all the time at Kent. We actually have a special label printer that connects to the computer that will basically print anything, doesn’t have to be text. We usually use it to replace the barcodes on our headphones we check out because they get rubbed off so easily. It’s similar to this:

    Not sure if that one does images, but same concept.

  7. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Alyssa & @Adam: Right now we’re using Horizon, which does not let us print barcodes directly (in May we’re switching to Evergreen, but that’s still in development so I’m not sure about that ILS). We do have little Dymo printers for spine labels (although, again, those don’t print directly from our ILS), and pretty soon we are going to get a special barcode printer too.

    That is a drawback of the free online generators – if you want to print the barcode, the easiest thing it to waste a whole 8.5×11″ page to get it. There are scalable solutions, but it does work well enough for the price for the infrequent need.

  8. All About QR Code Says:

    […] Swiss Army Librarian » More Fun With Barcodes :: Brian Herzog […]

  9. Kathryn Broad Says:

    You can also create a barcode through Word or any other word processing program and a freely available font like “Barcode 3 of 9”. Type an asterisk, the number or word, then another closing asterisk (i.e., *12345*), and highlight it and change the font and the size of the “type”.
    The asterisks provide a start and stop character for the barcode and our scanners can then read the locally produced barcode.

  10. Adam Lee Says:

    Hey that’s a really great idea you’ve got! I think people can have fun knowing each other by reading and decoding the information encoded in QR code! Sometimes I generate QR Code free online at
    which is quite easy to use! You can try it someday~