Join 3,439 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


This book goes there, that book goes there
April 19, 2011 12:09 PM   Subscribe

ShelvAr: an augmented reality app for shelf-reading library stacks, from Miami University Augmented Reality Research Group (MU ARRG!).
posted by steef (25 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's really, really cool, but it almost seems like it would have to move a lot faster in terms of suggesting replacement and identifying incorrect placement to be faster than someone who's simply trained to read shelves.

The ability to create a pull-list for misshelved items is really great. I think it'd be super useful for scanning shelves and then comparing the scan list versus the missing items / transit list (basically lists of material that are long overdue, claimed as returned, or other misplaced things). This would mean less collection loss, and less staff time trying to track down holds that are in the wrong place.

I'd imagine that at some point you could even replace Infrared barcode scanners with small, cheap webcams that could read a tag like that on the side of the book.

Of course all of this is dependent upon funding, which seems to be the motto that I'm learning in library school.
posted by codacorolla at 12:18 PM on April 19, 2011


Note that it actually updates much more rapidly:
The application is not actually as slow as it appears in the video. The slow frame-rate is due to the way I am capturing the video ... by taking screen-shots´╗┐ over and over.
Also, it's exciting but a little jarring to see an old classmate in an FPP.
posted by lantius at 12:25 PM on April 19, 2011


Augmented shirt reality.
posted by stbalbach at 12:31 PM on April 19, 2011


This is awesome. A co-worker and I spent a summer self reading the Unis' reference collection. Only 6000 volume...this would be great. Also, out local library is horrid about re-selving and this would help. Alot of library time is spent on this task and this could free up resourses for other projects as libraries are taking a sever beating economic wise.
posted by clavdivs at 12:37 PM on April 19, 2011


I don't remember MU having a ARG program. Boo.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:41 PM on April 19, 2011


Alot of library time is spent on this task and this could free up resourses for other projects as libraries are taking a sever beating economic wise.

Don't forget about the cost inherent in processing your entire collection (or even a branch's worth of it) with AR markers. Processing staff time is as valuable as reference and circulation staff time, and the new books don't stop coming.

I'd also be curious if it would run off of its own database or integrate with the existing circ database.
posted by codacorolla at 12:52 PM on April 19, 2011


If you attach an RFID chip to all books, you could put them anywhere you want. When a patron wants to find a book, the RFID reader will tell them exactly where it is. You could even have an LED on the book that blinks when it receives a signal telling it that someone is looking for it.
posted by No Robots at 1:00 PM on April 19, 2011


This is super cool and fits wiht my desire to slap QR codes on everything on earth.
posted by Space Coyote at 1:05 PM on April 19, 2011


RFID isn't that accurate. You would have to build a reader of either several subreaders (at least four) to triangulate (or in three dimensions, tetrahedrate), or mimic this by moving a subreader to two or more positions. Then you have metal shelves, bouncing the signal about, and floors, if this is a multi-floor library. Finally, RFID just doesn't go that far.

About the best you could get out of this is a set of small treadbots slowly moving through the stacks and indexing that books were sort of in the right place, then reporting that back up to a main server via WiFi. ("Frogstar Robot Scout Class A") Getting the spatial resolution good enough to do shelf sorting, though, would be hard. At that point you could have a larger, more specialized bot with one or more webcams going through shelves, looking for QR codes, so long as your materials had the width on the binding to support it, and maybe a lower-powered RFID signal to add into it, and again reporting back via WiFi. ("Frogstar Robot Scout Class B")

After that, you could dispatch a sorter-bot (or a student worker, whichever is cheaper).
posted by adipocere at 1:41 PM on April 19, 2011


RFID isn't that accurate. You would have to build a reader of either several subreaders (at least four) to triangulate (or in three dimensions, tetrahedrate), or mimic this by moving a subreader to two or more positions. Then you have metal shelves, bouncing the signal about, and floors, if this is a multi-floor library. Finally, RFID just doesn't go that far.

Yeah, RFID is pretty cool, but I haven't been impressed with the way I've seen it worked in to circ systems. It's less responsive than most barcode systems, and it just doesn't really give you any benefits over cheaper laminated barcodes and call numbers (which your circ system likely already supports, and processes for).

If you consider this it gives the benefits of AR while not really detracting from what's already available with standard barcodes. If I was designing a circ system for a new branch, I'd really, really want this to be part of it.
posted by codacorolla at 2:16 PM on April 19, 2011


Maybe not RFID, then, but an id chip of some sort that would connect with a reader chip at each shelf location.
posted by No Robots at 3:13 PM on April 19, 2011


There are definitely RFID library systems available, I know because my PL has bought into a system and will have it installed some time this century.

The QRcode stuff is fun and hip and all; it would be awesome if budgets were generally able to purchase Galaxy tabs for their pages and librarians. There's a mefite librarian around here somewhere who's specifically working with Galaxy Tabs in the context of academic libraries. Paging holyrood!

Other fun tech currently being installed 'round these parts: Vocera paging system. Imagine: deskless librarians!
posted by carsonb at 4:02 PM on April 19, 2011


I'm a used bookstore junkie with no library science training, so when I saw "augmented reality app for shelf-reading", I thought "That's brilliant, it must just rotate the field of view 90┬░ ccwise, thereby horizontalizing all the titles, so you don't have to walk the aisles with your right ear glued to your shoulder."

...now I want that pony.
posted by unregistered_animagus at 4:29 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see this integrated with a public catalog: a user looks the books up online, saves a list of "marked" items, and then when they get to the stacks, they point their phone at the shelf, and their saved books are highlighted for them to retrieve. Especially handy even if the books were mis-shelved and slightly out of call number order!
posted by steef at 4:36 PM on April 19, 2011


...and I arrive. (thx carsonb!)

I do like this but wonder about time for attaching all the codes in a large collection, and I'm not clear on how it works if you buy a new book and have to rearrange the shelves (is it a recoding issue or do you have to shift the physical qr codes?) I also used to shelf read and the big books are actually e easier...if he could figure out how to make it work with skinny volumes (magazines, maps, music scores, picture books, permabound & spiral bound books) which are the biggest pain to shelf read, I'd be more interested.

steef, excellent idea! May I steal it?
posted by holyrood at 6:43 PM on April 19, 2011


Man, I'm just waiting for unobtrusive augmented reality glasses.
posted by wayland at 9:41 PM on April 19, 2011


If you attach an RFID chip to all books, you could put them anywhere you want. When a patron wants to find a book, the RFID reader will tell them exactly where it is.

What about when I want to browse a section?
posted by DU at 4:50 AM on April 20, 2011


What about when I want to browse a section?

Browse sections online. This will increasingly be the preferred option, particularly as more and more materials are available only in electronic form. The integrity of the classification system is maintained in the electronic catalogue; the actual shelving arrangement of materials does not have to follow it.
posted by No Robots at 8:06 AM on April 20, 2011


This will increasingly be the preferred option

Not by me it won't.
posted by DU at 8:35 AM on April 20, 2011


You will not have any other choice if books are only available in electronic form.
posted by No Robots at 8:48 AM on April 20, 2011


So the theory here is that publishers will want to move from "we can put these books anywhere and anyone can just pick it up" to "you have to use app A to access database B and by the way our library only has N chairs, so you'll have to wait for a spot"?
posted by DU at 9:39 AM on April 20, 2011


The move to e-books is largely reader-driven, no?
posted by No Robots at 9:50 AM on April 20, 2011


The way people read books is not the same as the way they *discover* books. Even if I had an ebook reader (which I don't, for semi-unrelated reasons) I'd still like to be able to browse and make serendipitous discoveries. That doesn't necessarily rule out an electronic catalog type thing, but no electronic catalog I've ever seen browsed as well as physically walking through the shelves.

Or, as I put it to someone here when I was talking about this: An electronic catalog makes you pine for the days when you were able to judge a book by its cover. Judging a book by a reference to its cover is even worse.
posted by DU at 10:10 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Absolutely right. The real action in librarianship is in making e-catalog browsing fun, exciting, rewarding, and full of serendipity. Instead, though, library catalogs are following the Google model, and becoming an inane jumble.
posted by No Robots at 10:16 AM on April 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


It would be killer if you could take this one step further, and have these QR codes sync up to the library's ebook database, so the user could point their smart phone at one, click "borrow" and then either start the download for, or be put on the waitlist of the book that they've selected. You get all of the fun and convenience of browsing a physical collection without having to lug a bunch of books around with you (unless the ebook is currently checked out, or not available as such).

Someone start working on that!
posted by codacorolla at 10:22 AM on April 22, 2011


« Older Andres Serrano (some NSWF images) has made contro...  |  Baseball fans: Curious how far... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments