Application of Barcode Technology in Landmark University Centre for Learning Resources, Omu-Aran Experience.

Author:Akanbi, Lawal M.
 
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Introduction

Landmark University (LMU) is located in Omu-Aran, Kwara State in Nigeria. It is a Private Christian University. It was founded by Dr. David Oyedepo who also is the Chancellor in 2011. The current Vice Chancellor is Professor Adeniyi Olayanju. The university motto is "Breaking New Grounds" and its website is http://lmu.edu.ng/. According to the Chancellor, Landmark University is a product of divine revelation. A proof which is believed to be evident in the peaceful ambiance around the campus characterized by a cool windy and friendly weather which supports the agrarian mission of the university; historical best time for ultra-modern infrastructure growth that rhymes and foster academic progressions in all disciplines, especially agriculture; and the inherent attractions of international best-rated scholars/academia who wield same visions and work in oneness toward its fruition. Among the ultra-modern infrastructure is a magnificent library known as Center for Learning Resources (CLR) that provides information needs to the community user for teaching, learning and research purposes (http://lmu.edu.ng/).

Barcodes have found varieties of applications in different fields, including libraries and information centers. Bar coding though relatively an old technology is one of the important steps in library automation and is still not widely used in libraries in Nigeria. Although the first commercial implementation of bar coding was for grocery distribution in 1970, the use of bar codes has grown enormously since (Milne, 2013). Barcode are useful at all stages of various operations; accurately identifying materials, tracking work in process, managing inventory, directing library circulation operations, and providing lifetime identification for materials and security. The benefits are enormous such as accurate information, real-time visibility, and a highly productive work force.

Computer technology has helped libraries to perform their jobs efficiently and to the ultimate satisfaction of their users. Computers have revolutionized the work culture of modern day libraries. The growth in number and variety of computer-based technologies are playing important role in the efficient working of a library (Vasishta & Dhanda, 2010).

Automating the library material handling process allows librarians to spend more time with the clientele, thus, increasing the 'user satisfaction'. Library automation is nothing but the use of automatic and semiautomatic data processing machines to perform traditional activities such as acquisition, cataloguing, circulation (Patil, Wadekar, Chikate & Joshi, 2006). It also means the application of computer and telecommunications technology to bibliographic control, database access, resource sharing and other electronic communication or transmission for the purpose of improving and enhancing services to library users (Erie 1 BOCES, 2012). The growth in the sheer mass of published information to be handled has also been offered as an explanation for the increased activity in library automation. Libraries use ICT to manage communication facilities, housekeeping operations, user's services, standardization and extension of library activities (Bhangu, 2013)

A barcode is a machine-readable representation of information that is formed by combinations of high and low reflectance regions of the surface of an object, which are converted to 1s and 0s. This definition includes both one-dimensional and two-dimensional barcodes (Kato, Tan & Chai, 2010). Barcode stored data in width and spacing of printed parallel lines. In other words we can say that barcode are series of black and white bars arranged in a predefined form to represent known coded information. A linear barcode is a binary code (1s and 0s). The line and space are of various thicknesses and printed in different combinations (Singh & Sharma, 2007).

A bar code is a piece of Automatic Identification Technology (Auto ID) that stores real time data. It is a series of vertical bars or a graphical bar pattern which can, (depending on the width and pattern) encode numbers and letters in a format which can easily be retrieved and interpreted by a barcode reader. The symbology is a language used to represent or arrange the bars and spaces. It defines the technical details of a particular type of barcode: the width of the bars, character set, method of encoding, checksum specifications, etc. There are numbers of symbologies for barcode technology. At present there are over 100 different coding schemes / systems of barcode (Sarjiwan & Singh, 2011). The most commonly used symbologies are: Universal Product Code (UPC); Interleaved 2 of 5 (I 2 of 5); Code 39 (Code 3 of 9); European Article Number (EAN); CODE 128; Code Bar; Code 49. While choosing a symbology for library applications care is to be taken of developments in computer technologies and requirements of the library. Today, computers are alpha numeric, and as a part of basic computer technology, barcode should also be alpha numeric.

Bar-coding in the context of library applications can be described as a process of generating machine-aided and machine-readable unique and document specific code (Manjunath & Pujar, 2002). The code, which is invariably a unique accession number, when scanned, gets decoded and identifies a specific document in the database for circulation and stock verification related activities (issue, return etc.). Needless to say that there is an interface between the scanner and the library housekeeping software.

The circulation work in an automated library involves keying in a large amount of data. Sometimes, the library staff at the counter has to retype the same information due to error in data entry. A bar code reader decodes a bar code by scanning a light source across the bar code and measuring the intensity of light reflected back by the white spaces (Sarjiwan & Singh, 2011). Selecting the type of collection for bar-coding is an important consideration; in any library some collections are strictly meant for reference and such documents need not be bar-coded. Due to the low cost of barcode, automation identification (auto-ID) systems have been applied to various aspects of daily life. Bar-coding is recommended only for such libraries where transaction is very high or likely to be high in future. It may not be cost-effective in a small corporate library with few members and transactions (Manjunath and Pujar, 2002). They also opine that the implications of barcode technology are many. Bar-coding is recommended only for such libraries where transaction is very high or likely to be high in future. It may not be cost-effective in a small corporate library with few members and transactions. Against this background, this study examines application of Barcode Technology in Landmark University Centre for learning resources, Omu-Aran experience

Statement of the Problem

Academic Library is a collection of resources made accessible to a defined community (students, staff, and researchers) for learning, teaching and research. Thus, the process of handling a library manually is very troublesome and clumsy. As regards to this point of view, the computerized system for handling the activities of library management provides a comprehensive way to lessen physical and complexity of the manual system, though, Academic libraries are faced with the responsibility of satisfying their users' information needs within the shortest time available.

The main aim for today's libraries in adopting Barcode technology is to improve library operations by increasing the efficiency of library transactions, reducing workplace injuries, and improving services for library users. One of the academic libraries in Nigeria using barcode is Landmark University's Center for Learning Resources (CLR). Barcode eliminates the possibility of human error; data obtained through barcode is available rapidly and accurately, though, they are inexpensive to design and print but promote better decision making. Despite the benefits of barcode in libraries, there are shortcomings: apart from the fact that they are inexpensive to design, having barcode does not guarantee effectiveness and efficiency of services rendered in...

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