Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, Barcode

The library may be closed today, but while you’re out shopping for your big Independence Day celebration, think of what life would be like without those handy barcodes that can be found on every item you purchase. It just so happens the barcode turned 35 years old on June 26 this year. While this may seem relatively insignificant, it was reported in a New York Times article that barcodes are scanned over 10 billion times a day throughout the world. The barcode has certainly changed the ease with which we shop, but the future of the barcode may prove to be even more effectual with the further development and increased use of the RFID. Just as the barcode was controversial when it initially came out, so too is the use of RFID technology. In the 1970s some people were against the barcode believing they would be overcharged at the register without a price tag. Today RFID brings up a whole set of new issues, in particular, the tracking of individuals through RFID chips.

Nonetheless, the barcode has not only improved shopping experiences, but also customer experiences here at the library. With our new self-check out machines at the Central library, people are using barcodes to check out their own books, DVDs, and CDs. In fact, this month we set a new record: over 40,000 items were checked out from the Central library using our self-check machines! That’s right, of the 80,000 books, DVDs, CDs, etc. that checked out, more than 40,000 were checked out using the new machines. We think this might reflect how much all of you like the new machines, but, at the very least, it is real example of how barcodes can change the way things are done.

I hope everyone has a safe, happy holiday.

New York Times article:
Game Changer in Retailing, Bar Code Is 35

More info about RFID:
How RFID Works

1 comment:

Media Mentions said...

Seems like the barcode is doing quite well as an anti-theft device too!

I love the original topic by the way: sometimes, something other than the economy and the environment would be nice.