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Voyager Converting from ID Barcode to Magstripe

Converting from ID Barcode to Magstripe

For the sake of efficiency and security, many campuses are implementing “one card” systems where new magstripe-embedded ID cards are replacing old “analog” IDs. In these cases libraries are often in the position to drop their old “barcoded” library cards and use these new cards for patron identication. This usually involves a change in the patron data; perhaps changing to a new Institutional ID and eliminating the old patron barcode for a new one that is embedded on the magnetic card. As always, when working with patron data, make sure you review and understand the Patron SIF in the Technical User’s Guide.

Example of Procedure from Colorado School of Mines

In March of 2005 the campus introduced a new ID card. This card replaced the old campus card on which the Library stuck a patron “barcode” and read it with a barcode scanner. The new cards have magstripes that have different IDs that would become the new library patron barcodes. The Library had to convert its patron database from the old barcodes to the new. A lot of researching and testing went into this project. The conversion was successful.

At the Colorado School of Mines, the campus-wide ID can actually be thought of as two numbers:

1) The first is the 8-digit part that most people eventually memorize: 19264563

This is a unique number given to each student and staff member. (See related article: SSN to IID) In the Voyager patron record this is the IID. It is also the number patrons use to login to their patron account, as specified in the [Login Types] stanza in the OPAC.INI file:

[Login Types]


#SSN=Social Security Number

IID=Institution ID

When we converted from SSN to IID we added a zero to this number and used it to fill the SSN field (rather than, for example, zero-fill it, which at the time caused problems with Voyager client programs).

2) The second is the full 19 digit CWID that is encoded on the new magstripe cards: 9840000171926456300

As you see, the first number is a part of this longer second number.

In the Voyager patron record this is the patron’s Barcode. And thus, when a patron attempts to check something out, their 19 digit barcode is read off of their ID card with a magstrip reader.

NOTE that neither of these two numbers is visible on the card! This would’ve been nice but our IS people would not allow it.

We used the patron update program (Pptrnundt) to load records with the new 19 digit barcode. Our I.S. department created this file for us (as they do all our patron update files). The new file with the updated barcode was run and as per the documentation, because there was an existing barcode for each patron with the same patron group, the status on the existing barcode was changed to 5 (other) and the new barcode was added with a status of 1 (active).

In the examples below, the old barcode (starting with “A”) was replaced with the new barcode (starting with “98”). The old barcode was changed to a status of “other”):

To read the magstripe cards we purchased Cherry 81-8000 keyboards which include magstripe readers:

They are pricey ($150-$200).

It was easy to program the keyboard to insert a carriage return automatically after reading the magstripe data.

If you are going in this direction, be sure the mag stripe reader is reading the track that your ID numbers are charged on. Your ID Card folks should be able to tell you which track this is.

If you really want to know what’s on the magnetic card and relayed to Voyager via the magstripe reader, simply open a text editor (NOTEPAD, WORDPAD, Notepad2, etc.) and swipe the card. You will see all characters coming from the magnetic card, so you can easily determine, whether that info is in the barcode field of your patron’s barcode field in Voyager.

Submitted by:

Laura Guy

Colorado School of Mines


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