DIY Library Cards with Barcodes

FOL card front

My library is holding a Friends of the Library Luncheon in April and I am on the committee and co-organizing the event, as well as doing the marketing. Ticket purchases include a year membership to the Friends of the Elizabeth City State University Library, but our cards are out of date. In order to keep event costs down, I am designing a FOL library card that can be printed and laminated in-house and I need to include a barcode to scan on the cards.

I felt the easiest way to accomplish this is to create a mail merge document in Microsoft word using a business card template and importing the barcode data from an excel spreadsheet.

I will give a general walk-through of the process below. It helps if you already have an idea how to do a mail merge with importing excel data. If not, there are many online tutorials available or you may want to ask someone who has experience to help you with your first attempt.

The first thing you need to do is set up your excel spreadsheet so you can point to it in the mail merge. The barcodes can be created in excel using a barcode font and a simple formula. Using this font and formula means all you have to do is paste your desired codes into the first column and the barcode gets created for you in the 3rd column. We decided to do a code that included 2 letters, then 5 numbers to make it easier to create cards later without worrying about duplicates.  So I created the code the 2nd tab in the spreadsheet by typing “aa” in the first column and pasting random 5 digit number strings in the second column.  I generated the number strings using I then combined the 2 columns into one column using this formula- =A1&B1. Once I had the final code, I could paste it into the first column of the 1st tab of the spreadsheet (with the barcode font and formula).

To make it easier to visualize, you can view a sample of my entire spreadsheet by clicking here.

Once you have the spreadsheet set up, you can create a mail merge template. If you aren’t sure how to do this, here is a tutorial. Just remember that you want to choose a business card template under the labels cue in mailing. I used Avery 8471. At this point, you will be able to add in any text or images you would like, which I added before I inserted the merge fields (ie. the barcode and code text). Once you design the first card, you can click on update labels to make all of the cards look like your first card. Then I finished the merge and chose the option to edit individual items. This opens up a new document with your merged information, which will look like the picture above. Don’t be frustrated if you need to go back and edit your template a few times!

You can also create a second mail merge to print on the back of the cards to include more information. We have a few circulation rules and a signature on the back of our cards. We are laminating our cards before we hand them out, so we are having members sign the card with a permanent pen and putting another clear sticker over the signature, so it doesn’t rub off.

And voilà! You have your very own customized library cards.


Leave a comment

Filed under Circulation, DIY

Information Literacy and Gaming

game-clip-art-2In my last post on student research preferences and online resources, I talked about how students seem to prefer online resources, which is not surprising in the age of the internet. The ease of online searching and the highly visual nature of the internet supports the theory that our attention spans are shorter and we crave instant gratification. According to recent studies, students who have grown up using evolving technology, often referred to as “Net Geners” or Millenials, learn in a different way than past generations and libraries are slow to respond to this trend. There are a growing number of articles being written on the subject and a few of my favorites are:

     Baker, Russell, Erika Matulich, and Raymond Papp. “Teach me in the way I learn: Education and the internet generation.” Journal of College Teaching & Learning (TLC) 4.4 (2011). PDF

     Carlson, Scott. “The net generation goes to college.” The chronicle of higher education 52.7 (2005): A34.

     DiLullo, Camille, Patricia McGee, and Richard M. Kriebel. “Demystifying the Millennial student: A reassessment in measures of character and engagement in professional education.” Anatomical sciences education 4.4 (2011): 214-226. (PDF available here, as well as other helpful resources on the subject)

Libraries may offer online databases and Apps for mobile devices that link to library resources, but we are not addressing the WAY that students are approaching or processing the information. This includes in-person services, especially classes and workshops which are usually longer in length. One new approach that I have been finding effective is utilizing gaming techniques in information literacy classes. I have found that incorporating gaming in my basic information literacy classes promotes stronger involvement and content retention in students.

I created a game using Prezi for a class on finding music resources at Elizabeth City State University. To view the interactive game online, click on the image below:

music resource game screenshot I started the class by having the students break into two groups and choose a team Captain.  I asked for one student volunteer to write down team names on a whiteboard. I then gave the groups 5 minutes to pick a team name.  At this point I explained that I was going to give a 15 minute presentation on how to find music resources and that they would be playing a game afterwards to see how much they had learned. They were allowed to use their notes during the game, which prompted them to take better notes while I presented, which they could use at a later date. The game rules were simple. I had the class professor pick a number between 1-10 and the team Captains also choose a number between 1-10. Whoever was closest got to go first. That team was allowed to continue to answer questions until they got them wrong, which prompted the other team to take over. The team who answers the last question wins the game. The whole class took roughly 50 minutes, including instruction and game.

I had included 15 seconds after each question for the teams to discuss, but I was pleased to find that the students answered right away and often without using their notes. The student feedback was very positive and they were invested in helping me to improve the game experience. Students felt the game would be more fair to score by points, so I am working on a Jeopardy-type game where the questions asked are scored based on difficulty of the question. I also will not automatically include a timer in the game, unless the team doesn’t answer right away.

If you are interested in incorporating gaming into your information literacy classes, here are some of the resources I used:

     Boyle, Susan. “Using games to enhance information literacy sessions.” Librarians’ Information Literacy Annual Conference (LILAC). The British Library and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), London, England, UK. 18-20 April 2011. Presentation. Web <>.

     Doshi, Ameet. “How Gaming Could Improve Information Literacy.” Computers in Libraries. Information Today, May 2006. Web <>.

     McDevitt, Theresa. “Games and Activities for Energizing Library Instruction .” Libguide. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 22 Oct. 2013. Web <>.

     Rice, Scott. Library Games Blog. Appalachian State University, Mar. 2010. Web <>.

     “Libraries, Literacy and Gaming.” Libguide. Manhattanville College Library, 4 Oct. 2011. Web <>.

Leave a comment

February 20, 2014 · 11:22 am

Student Research Preferences and Online Resources

courtesy of miguelavg

Picture courtesy of miguelavg

When I started the fall semester, I had the music students take a short survey on their research and writing habits. I did this for two reasons: 1. I wanted to see how they approached research and resources and 2. I wanted to see what their preferences were as far as online vs. in-person. I was not surprised at all by the survey results.

70% of the students said they prefer online resources, 22% prefer a mixture of online and in-person and only 8% said they prefer just  in-person. So essentially, almost 92% wanted access to online resources! Of course, when they listed which resources they use, Google search was at the top at a whopping 80%. Here are the other resources that students preferred (multiple choices allowed):

Google   80%
Internet/ online   15%
Books  10%
Library  10%
Wikipedia  10%
E.C. Public Library  8%  5%
Google Scholar  5%
Class notes  3%

As you can see, the majority of the answers were internet related and less than half could be considered scholarly. A 2008 study of undergraduate writing skills at ECSU shows that most of our students have difficulty writing at an academic level. There are two general education English classes that are required of freshman and sophomore students and only 1/3 of the students in those classes pass them. It isn’t just ECSU students that are struggling. A quick search in Google Scholar for academic literacy issues brings up a myriad of articles and books on the subject.

So how do we address the students’ preferences while still ensuring a certain level of competency and resource credibility? Online research guides. Many libraries use Libguides by Springshare and ECSU is no exception. They are versatile, user-friendly and offer the ability to customize to match a school’s webpage. Right now I am using the Music Library Libguide as my library webpage and a general guide to music resources.

However, I have noticed that the guide is not getting used as much as I would like, so I created a Music Libguide usability survey with a set of exercises for a work-study student to get some input for a re-design. Unfortunately, the student used the guide to find a link to the library online databases and quickly left the guide and never returned. In the real world, that would be considered successful because the student used the guide to find what they were looking for, but it didn’t give me the feedback I needed to improve the guide. She did mention that her first instinct was to use the search box for the guide, which got her to the database link, as opposed to showing resources on the composer I asked her to look for in the survey. This tells me that I need to break down the guide into more sections. I am also in the process of compiling a list of Libguide best practices, which I will post about soon.

1 Comment

Filed under Information Lieracy

Putting It Together

Happy Fall Semester! I was working diligently all summer to get the ECSU Music Library ready for Fall, which is our first full semester to be open. It is exciting to go back and see how the library has progressed visually. Here are the latest pictures:


In this last picture, you can see that scores have been expanded to two bookshelves. There is quite a bit of open space as I am still cataloging and have roughly 200 more scores to add. I was able to add a shelf of music reference (on the left). Of course, that is not all of our music reference items, which are still mostly  located in our main library. I am using this shelf for recent reference order requests by Faculty and big ticket items that don’t circulate. Eventually, I would like to move the majority of the music reference items into the Music Library, save for bound serials and larger collected works. This will be a part of a large scale music weeding project, which I will start once I have a solid semester of circulation statistics.

Not pictured is a music career section, which is located at the back of the group study table shown in third picture. This is a permanent display collection, similar to a browse section. It highlights books on careers in music, self-promotion and legal guides, and wellness for musicians. An example of a few titles in the collection are:

  • Project Management for Musicians- Jonathan Feist  ISBN: 9780876391358
  • The Inner Game of Music- Barry Green  ISBN: 9780385231268
  • The Balanced Musician- Lesley Sisterhen McAllister  ISBN: 9780810882935
  • Careers for Music Lovers & Other Tuneful Types- Jeff Johnson  ISBN: 9780071405751

My plans for this section is to assign it to a student worker to keep updated, since it is a small collection. Every semester I will have them check anything 3 or more years old to see if there is an updated edition, as well as make other order suggestions. I have found that the more I involve my student workers in collection development, the more they talk about the Music Library to their peers.

1 Comment

Filed under Collection Management, Facility

It IS Easy Being Green (in the Library)

recycling booksThe room where the Music Library is located was always intended to be a Music Library, however it was mostly used for storage until the fall of 2012. That meant a lot of donated items, as well as purchased scores, that needed to be assessed and cataloged or discarded. There was also a huge potential for quite a bit of trash and it was important to me to minimize waste as much as possible. I decided to concentrate on making the ECSU Music Library “green.”

Going green, or promoting sustainability, is much easier now that recycling is a common occurrence. Many University campuses have recycling initiatives in place, as well as an office or department, and Elizabeth City State University boasts both. I contacted Ms. Cassidy Cannon in our Office of Sustainability and worked with her on getting a recycling bin and discussed other options. I also included methods of conservation I use at home, such as using a power strip for office electronics and shutting it off at night and on the weekends to prevent wasted energy usage, also known as vampire energy. I have enabled power saving settings on my computer and iPad. I am also lucky enough to have 2 walls of windows in the library, so I often don’t turn my lights on during the day (which is also less of a strain on my eyes).

makedoandmendI have always been a big proponent of “make-do and mend,” which became very popular during World War II. Essentially, people would “ration” their clothes by repairing them or modifying them to stay in fashion. Once an item was beyond repair, they would remove the buttons and trims and find other ways to use the cloth, such as cleaning rags, fabric strips for pin curls, or potential pieces to modify other items. There were a myriad of booklets that would walk you through the steps of turning a husband’s suit into a stylish new jacket and skirt for the wife, or how to re-size a torn shirt into an item for a smaller child.

It is quite easy to take the make-do and mend concept and make it work in a music library. There are so manboard pic1y items we discard that could be useful in other ways or to other people and institutions. For example, scores that are beyond repair to circulate may still have many uses, outside of the old stand-by library book sale.  I had my student worker Justin use the music as background and trim on our  information boards, with great feedback from students and faculty. We were also able to give some unprocessed/uncatalogued music to students during the first week we were open, which was very popular and helped with library visit statistics. Of course, there is always donation to other institutions, such as the Public Library, local schools, and even music stores that provide lessons and are willing to make the donations available to low-income students. Another donation possibility is to local arts and crafts studios. Many artists are upcycling items in their projects to make useful things like bowls and lamps out of sheet music and LPs.  Plus,  it is a great way to support your local arts community and open up a dialogue for future collaboration and possible library patrons.

board pic2

So there you have it! There are very easy ways that you can do your part at work to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. If you are interested in more information, the Environmental Protection Agency has a great page for more ideas.

Leave a comment

Filed under Collection Management

Getting To Know You

The Music Library is in its third week of being open to students. We had a strong start with roughly 40 student visits in the first two weeks, which is great considering it is near the end of the semester. To help keep track of visits, we use sign-in sheets with date, time, name and reason for visit. The sheets will help to decide what are the best hours to be open, what are the resources most students are interested in, and provide documentation for Title III funding. You can download a copy of the sign-in sheet here, if you’d like to use it. It is in word document format.

I would also like to take this time to thank the first “crew” of the ECSU Music Library: student workers Justin Garland & Jimmie Rodgers, and Interim Music Librarian Susan Corell-Hankinson.

Music Library Gang1

Justin, Jimmie, Stephanie, Susan



They were such a great help in getting things ready before I arrived, as well as continued support. Of course, we had a lot of help from the G.R. Little Library staff too! Needless to say, we had a great time getting everything together…

Music Library Gang2

Leave a comment

May 7, 2013 · 3:39 pm

Music Library Soft Opening

It has been quite a month for me since my last post! I ended up spending most of March dealing with a death in the family, which took me away from work for 3 weeks out of the month and put me behind 2 weeks. Here is what the library looked like before I left:




Basically, I had 1 shelf of cataloged scores, 1 shelf of uncatalogued scores, and a large pile of discards. Once I got back, I was able to rally and modify the location of enough books from the main library to do a “soft opening” on April 22nd. I call it a soft opening because I do not have a complete catalog of items yet, but students can use the Library room and check out items that are available. The shelf of uncatalogued items can be browsed and cataloged on request. There will be a “Grand Opening” in the fall when the Music Library is complete. This will include a small public celebration, which the local arts community will be invited to attend.

In case anyone is wondering about the process of moving the items, here is the general flow:

I spent any work hours at the main G. R. Little Library doing group item modifications and marking the items’ current location to “In Process” in SirsiDynix Symphony Workflows. Marking the items In Process allowed the items to be searched, but let other librarians know they weren’t on the shelf, in case a student needed the item. I would also take this time to double-check if scores were marked correctly in the item categories, for easier catalog searches, and if there were any other issues, such as repair needs, call number errors, etc. The following day I would go back to G.R. Little with a student worker and box up the items (hopefully keeping them in order!) and load 4-8 boxes into my poor Chevy Aveo to transport to the Music Library. Once in the Music Library, I would again scan the books and change the current location to the Music Library. If I hadn’t already stamped the books with the Music Library stamps this would happen now, and I would make sure they were in correct order before they went on the shelf.

It seems like a lot of back and forth, but I needed to make the move gradually due to my limited space. As mentioned in my first two posts, I only have 10 tall shelves and decided to start with the M and ML classification items. Now that I have 3/4 of those items in the Music Library, I can see that I may be able to bring over some voice and instrument methods and theory books, which had been requested by faculty. The music education books will have to stay in the main library, which makes sense as they are being utilized by two departments (music and education).

As of opening week, I am pleased to say that the ECSU Music Library now looks like this:

opening 4.22.13_1

opening 4.22.13_2

opening 4.22.13_3

You’ll see in the last picture that I have some boxes of free sheet music on a table for students to take as an opening week gift. Most of the items are older duplicates or in less than great shape, but can still be useful. It has been very successful in getting people in to visit and see how different the Music Library is from the last time they had access. The faculty have also been stopping by and we even had them helping the students go through the music to pick out the best pieces for them. A very positive start!

Leave a comment

Filed under Facility, Organization