As you may know, we use the library A LOT (over 500 checkouts so far this year (track it yourself with athenaeum)). Somehow or other, the barcode on the back of my library card is wearing out (darn you Friction!), making it more and more difficult to get it to scan at the self-checkout stations. The kids helped me (they are short) find the keyboard locked under the shelf checkout station, and we learned how to unlock it, pull it out and type in the library card # to get by. This lasted a while, until I was almost ready to go to the circulation desk to claim a new card, thus suffer the personal horror of being assigned a new number, and more terribly, a new location on the holds shelf — when I had an epiphany.
It is just a barcode. I know how to make barcodes. Why don’t I replace the barcode on my library card? I could just paste it over top the worn out one and I’d be off to the races. But wait, why stop there? I carry around three library cards (mine, my wife’s and my son’s), taking up over 40% of the contents of my pocket on any given day, let’s solve that problem too. I proceeded to print up a sheet with all three library card #’s barcodes so now I just have a tiny slip of paper and presto problem solved, life hacked. For those who carry a smart phone, it is even simpler as you just can keep an image file on your phone and display that to the barcode scanner and be on your way.
Only times you need your card now are when you need to present official identification to government officials.
Don’t get carried away with this though. You wouldn’t want to ‘cheat‘ any other systems by consolidating your barcodes, or heaven forbid alter something’s code.
I wonder if there is a keen enough library user who wants their library card for life that will get a working tattoo barcode of their library card?
Want to do it too? Super easy way is to just follow this link here to Barcodes Inc’s Generator. and look to your browser’s address bar and change the number where it says code= to your library card number — make sure you leave all the other things in place. I’ll state the obvious, the barcode seen in that link is not a valid barcode, it isn’t your library card #, you must type your own personal number in there (and know that there is a small chance someone somewhere will have a record of your number in a log file). If you’re going to do it yourself using the form (click advanced options) or have other tools to make a barcode I tested and found that the “numeric only” codes are recognized by the library’s scanners. Thus pick “Interleaved 2 of 5” or “Code 128-C” to get you started. Once you have your image file of your barcode, do what you want with it in terms of laying it out to be printed, or encoding it to be tattooed, or sending it to your smart phone. Good luck, and have fun!Note this should in no way be limited to the Toronto Public Library system. Anywhere that has a self-checkout that uses a barcode can be hacked in this way.