Post #2–The First Two Weeks

The first two weeks of the project were spent almost exclusively at a computer, combing the internet for information on barcoding. Research for the project that was done while it was still in its proposal stage was a great base to start on, but it became clear on the first day how very long the list of decisions to be made was for things like hardware choices and software brands and label sizes and so forth; all were issues that need to be resolved before any actual barcoding or location tracking could take place.

We started by contacting people at other institutions who had implemented similar projects, preferably also using the Mimsy XG database, who would then be able to point us in the direction of appropriate equipment and supplies for the tasks. As there is such a vast spread of ways to implement barcoding in a collection, as well as so many considerations for each institution’s unique environment, we felt it was important to speak to other people about their own barcoding experiences.

We then turned to doing research on our own. What originally seemed a straightforward task was complicated by the fact that museums-specific barcoding information is sparse; most of the accessible information related to hardware and supplies was for an industrial or retail setting. Research ended up being a general overview of barcoding equipment, which then needed to have our own museum considerations applied to it. Our considerations for choosing museum-friendly printing hardware and supplies are as follows:

  • Familiarize yourself with how barcode printing actually works. We overwhelmed ourselves with the available options before actually sitting down and reading about the technology, and which options were actually appropriate for the project.
  • Talk to salespeople. They know their products better than anyone, and while they may be less informed about a museum-specific setting and its needs, they may also ask you questions that you hadn’t previously considered (USB or Ethernet connectivity? How many labels do you really need to print per day?) and those will ultimately narrow down your choices.
  • Learn about which materials are okay to be in contact with museum objects and which aren’t. Labels, inks, and adhesives should ideally be acid-free and inert. Do some reading on the subject or talk to a conservator (preferably both) as this will guide your choices.

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