It's been more than 40 years since the barcode was invented, but it remains a relevant and important tool in the museum world. Barcodes, and their associated technologies, are currently being used in a pilot project for an integrated location tracking system in two of the University of Alberta Museums' collections on campus.
Barcoding technology is a tried and tested method which has a wide range of applications from industrial to retail. In a museum setting, barcodes are primarily used to remove human error from location updates in a collections management system and reduce the time spent making those updates. Objects that are shelved, reshelved, relocated, loaned out, exhibited, or otherwise moved require their exact location to be updated in the database as soon and as accurately as possible to reduce losses and errors.
The University of Alberta Museums location tracking project was conceived in order to reduce the time and effort required to manually enter location changes of collection objects in the University of Alberta Museums collections database, Mimsy XG. This would also increase efficiency and collection security. In the spring of 2016, University of Alberta Museums received a Collections Management Grant from the Museum Assistance Program (MAP) run by the federal government's Department of Canadian Heritage to help the University of Alberta Museums fund this project.
Upon the pilot’s completion in April 2017, this project will see the creation and partial implementation of a barcoding system in the University of Alberta Museums Art Collection and Meteorite Collection.
To keep up to date on location tracking at the University of Alberta Museums, follow our blog for more project information and updates.