Customer Code


Access Permissions for ReCAP Collections

Customer codes are two- or three-letter codes assigned to collections at the off-site ReCAP facility.  A complete customer code table used by CUL, PUL and NYPL is available online.

Understanding customer code is critical to the ongoing transfer, management and access to off-site collections.  CUL and ReCAP staff manage access permissions to ReCAP Collections using customer code.  The relationship between customer code, CLIO location and barcode prefix helps staff make informed decisions about processing collections.

Customer code controls several points of access:

  1. Allowed delivery location(s)
  2. Photocopy/scanning
  3. ILL/Borrow Direct
  4. Onsite access at ReCAP facility
  5. Use by other ReCAP partners

Customer Code

Customer code is the key element that controls access to and delivery of ReCAP collections.

Customer codes represent one of three things:

  1. Delivery location
  2. Collection or
  3. Delivery location and Collection.

CUL's off-site collections are organized differently from those on campus.  Onsite, campus collections are separated into discrete units demarcated by interior space, shelving and classification.  They are organized for efficient and comfortable browsing, retrieval and re-shelving.  Onsite collections are often high-use and organized to allow active, dynamic use by patrons.

ReCAP is a high-density storage facility that is designed for maximum efficiency storage and retrieval of low-use material.  There is no patron physical access for browsing or retrieval.  Call numbers are irrelevant; all items are organized by barcode and shelf location.   All books are sorted by size and placed in cardboard trays.  The fundamental unit of high-density storage is the tray. Books are put into cardboard trays, several of which fit on a single shelf. All items in the same tray must be assigned identical customer code.  Items from separate library collections may occupy the same tray if they share a customer code.  If collections have different customer codes, they must be put in different trays.  Trays with different customer codes may be accessioned on the same shelf. In this way, library collections in high-density shelving are intermingled.

Every customer code has several elements, enumerated in the customer code table.  Each code can describe a collection and/or campus delivery location. The CUL system of customer codes appears complex because of the large number of departments, collections and delivery options.  Some codes are used only for physcial collections; some codes are used only for delivery; others represent both collection and delivery option.

Customer Code Table

The customer code table is a spreadsheet that lists all customer codes used by ReCAP. Customer codes are created and edited directly in the LAS database. The table itself is a reference guide.

  • Customer Code: Typically a two-letter code.
  • Description: Short summary of the collection or location.
  • Request Restrictions: Whether or not a customer code is permitted for request and delivery to Consortium partners.
  • Delivery Restrictions: Controls locations to which a customer code may be delivered. A request submitted for a non-permitted delivery location will fail.
  • Cold Vault: Collections permitted to be stored in ReCAP's cold vault.
  • Photocopy/EDD: Whether or not the collection may be scanned for EDD.
  • ILL: Whether items in a collection may be lent via ILL.
  • Onsite Access: Determines whether a patron may access material inside the ReCAP Facility in Princeton, NJ rather than on CUL property.
  • Barcode Prefix: Typically, barcode prefix matches customer code at CUL. There are a few instances where an obsolete customer code has been subsumed by a new one (e.g. EV is obsolete, now CU is used for East Asian circulating collections).
  • Address: At CUL most addresses are Butler Shipping & Receiving. The daily ReCAP courier makes a limited numbers of stops across campus. Most deliveries to department libraries come to Shipping & Receiving and are then transferred across campus by S&R staff.


Customer codes represent one of three things:

  1. Delivery location
  2. Collection or
  3. Delivery location and Collection.

1) MP is a customer code that is only a delivery location. MP is the customer code for MRP, Monograph Recon & Processing. MRP is a technical processing department whose function is to process materials for transfer to ReCAP.  There is no MRP collection. MRP staff need to request material from ReCAP for on-site processing.  Direct delivery to MP is an efficient way for MRP staff to retrieve off-site material.


2) CR is a customer code that is only a collection. CR is a customer code used for restricted access collections across CUL. Many department libraries accessioned collections with CR. It represents no single department and does not have an assigned delivery location. Unlike unrestricted CU customer code, CR will not be available for ReCAP Consoritum partners to request. These collections are typically non-circulating.


3) UT is a customer code that is both a delivery location and collection. UT is the customer code for Burke Library special collections. These collections may only deliver to Burke Library or technical processing departments. Burke Library also has circulating collections accessioned as CU. Customer code CU may deliver to all CUL libraries and circulate. Having a separate customer code UT allows Burke strong oversight for off-site special collections.


CLIO Location & Barcode Prefix

CLIO Location

CUL and ReCAP maintain separate databases: CLIO and LAS. CUL's collections at ReCAP are inventoried and tracked in both databases.  Each database archives information relevant for search, retrieval and maintenance.  The only data element in common between CLIO and LAS is barcode.

Both databases have encoding to identify and manage collections.  Simplistically, CUL uses CLIO locations and ReCAP uses customer code.

CLIO location has several features, most applying to all CUL collections both onsite and offsite.  It describes what collection and department an item belongs to. It helps determine loan period.  It has an assigned Location display message in the OPAC.  Specifically for offsite collections, it controls the drop-down menu delivery options on the ReCAP request form.

Discrepancies between customer codes and CLIO location can lead to failed requests and poor oversight of special collections.

Barcode Prefix

Barcode prefix refers to the first two characters of CUL off-site, 10-digit barcodes.  It is a visual cue to staff for customer code, an eye-legible aid.  Barcode prefix does not control any aspect of encoding or access.  When CUL began transferring books to ReCAP in 2002 only a few cutomer codes were in use.  The number of customer codes and barcode prefixes has expanded as more collections were transferred and delivery locations multiplied.  Looking at both barcode prefix and color band, staff can immediately determine the access permissions.  Circulating collections have different barcode prefixes and colors than non-circulating.

  • Customer code/barcode prefix is ideally a one-to-one relationship
  • Multiple CLIO locations may share same customer code (e.g. off,rbms and off,rbs are both accessioned as RS)
  • No single CLIO location should [ideally] be accessioned under more than one customer code (e.g. off,bus accessioned as CU, CR and BS)

CLIO Location & Barcode Prefix

  • LAS : Introduction to ReCAP Database (LAS)
  • Access Permissions : How access permissions operate for CUL collections at ReCAP
  • CPM-424: Descriptive list of barcode prefixes used at Columbia
  • CPM-500 : CLIO Location Codes
  • Smart Barcoding : Definition and history of use at CUL


ReCAP User Inquiry Alias:

Supervisor, ReCAP Access Services: Jennifer Loubriel

Phone: (212) 854-3542