Barcoding Project: Barcoding the Meteorites Collection

23 February 2017

The Meteorite Collection staff members were initially interested in the location tracking project we are implementing because of how often their specimens are moved—through accessions, loans, and research. Combined with the relatively small size of the collection (less than 1500 specimens), this made for an excellent pilot collection for our purposes. Not only will this project reduce the time spent manually entering new location data into the database, but it assists the staff in analyzing how often things are moved and for what purpose.

The data work necessary to begin barcoding this collection was minimal. The only work that had to be done within the Mimsy XG database was to bring the locations up to the standard necessary to generate location barcodes.

The majority of the Meteorite Collection is permanently stored in a set of metal cabinets. The specimens are double-bagged and nested in small boxes within the drawers inside each cabinet.  Associated with each specimen is a label, generated through Crystal Reports, with some basic information about each one.

After the staff received basic training for the Axiell Move app, the collection was equipped with everything the team would need to sustain and grow the barcoding initiative in their collection: two barcode scanning devices with chargers, barcoded cabinet labels, and a report that can be generated on demand through Crystal Reports to create object barcodes.

In conjunction with the staff, we decided that the most practical way of adding barcodes to objects was to incorporate a barcode into the existing Crystal Reports object label report, which is printed on cardstock for each specimen, and reprint the label for existing specimens requiring barcodes. This way, the labels will be uniform and older labels currently housed with specimens will benefit from being updated. For location barcodes, we designed paper labels in Microsoft Word to be slipped into the label holders on each drawer that contained a human-readable location name and associated barcode. The cabinet drawers were not previously labelled, so we were able to improve this second, physical aspect of their location tracking system as well.

The Meteorite Collection should now be able to continue growing its fully-functional barcoding system with minimal intervention from the University of Alberta Museums and Collections Services team.