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

CCD Scanner at the Circulation Desk

   February 15th, 2012

Unitech MS335 CCD ScannerAlmost exactly a year ago, I posted about scanning library cards on smartphones. While the FaceCash scanner I ordered worked, it wasn't designed to be used for library purposes, so didn't really fit at the circulation desk*.

At the time, we decided that as our existing desk scanners stopped working, we'd replace them with CCD scanners, so we'd be able to accommodate patrons with their library cards on their smartphone. And I'm happy to say it finally happened - one of our scanners stopped working, and we replaced it with a CCD scanner.

The model we chose is the one Jeff Pike from the Groton (MA) Library found - Unitech MS335, which features long range laser, USB attachment, and on a hands-free stand.

One catch is that the scanner, by default, is trigger-activated, rather than motion-activated like our other desk scanners. That was solved by switching it to "continuous" mode, which means the laser is always on. A little different, but the Circ staff doesn't seem to mind. Another catch was that the scanner ships with Codabar support turned off (which is what our library barcodes need). That was easy to fix too, as the barcode to turn on Codabar support was in the manual. I called Unitech to ask them these support questions, and they were excellent - an actual person answered the phone, was friendly and answered all my questions, and the entire phone call lasted maybe five minutes - with the end result being our scanner worked the way we wanted by the end of the call.

Since that post a year ago, I've gotten lots of questions about these kinds of scanners. The only two I'm familiar with are the two listed above, but I was curious what scanner models other libraries use, and well they work. If your library has a scanner like this, please let me know in the comments - hopefully this will become a resource for other libraries looking to buy these scanners. Thanks.


*So I was happy to keep it at my desk so I'd have a scanner to use

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8 Responses to “CCD Scanner at the Circulation Desk”

  1. Christina Says:

    We switched to a new kind of scanner for phones, too: Datalogic Gryphon N263. I don’t know any of the techie details of it, but that’s the name printed on it. They work well, as far as I know from asking circ staff.

  2. Jennifer Says:

    I tried using the MS335 and I’ve been having trouble with it scanning cellphones. Did you have to do anything in particular to make it work?

    I had to scan the different barcodes from the manual and i was able to get it to scan our regular items and cards. I just wasn’t able to get it scan a cellphone or ipad. Can you think of any reason why it won’t work?

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Jennifer: no, we didn’t have any trouble at all (which always surprises me when trying out new technology). We did call their tech support for trigger activated/always on thing, and they were great. I’d give them a call to ask why yours isn’t scanning the smartphones at all – it might be something simple, but it might just be a defective scanner.

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  7. Adam Watts Says:

    Just got one today. Discovered that the Unitech MS335 CCD Scanner will have trouble with smartphones and other devices that have their brightness set too low. On iphones, for example, it should be able to reliably scan barcodes at brightness above 55%~. Any lower and it won’t read at all.

    Hope this helps those who are having trouble.

  8. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Adam: thank you very much for posting this. We haven’t encountered it as far as I know, but I could definitely see this causing a “it doesn’t work at all!” reaction if it happened. Thanks again.