Book Shelf View

Last week, I gave a talk at the California Academic Research Libraries IT workshop on next generation libraries. After my talk, a woman came up to me with an idea that I thought was extremely clever, and intuitively appealing. Sandra Rotenberg, at the Solano Community College Library, emailed me later with a concept description which she has given permission for me to reproduce. I’ve edited it slightly to make a condensed entry for Radar.

Imagine a hybrid of Google Earth with Google Books, mingled with a Street View formed from images of an actual library’s book shelves.

Sandra says:

Imagine keyword searching through a book database, only the results come back as a picture of library stacks where the book is highlighted in context, where serendipity and browsing could happen.

Each book would be represented by an image of its own spine functioning as a hyperlink that would take you directly into the content. Clicking on the spine goes directly into the book, with in-book search support, displaying keywords in context, and with options to view and jump from the Table of Contents or Index.

You could setup the stacks image up so that you can “walk” along the shelves as if you were walking the stacks across your computer screen. If the mapping was done well, you could zoom up toward the stacks and view the book on the shelf. If you did this at several libraries, both public and academic, you could flip between your book at the public library and your book in an academic library setting, browsing across both shelves.

Another idea in the physical world would be to create rooms, about the size of a study room, with walls with functionality similar to iPhone screens where one could search either through voice recognition or via wireless keyboards, then walk over to the wall of books, seeing life-size images. Touch a book, and open it with an effect similar to the Internet Archive’s OpenLibrary page-turner, but using touch screen technology. This would be great for people sitting or standing who could use the pinch and spread fingers motions to zoom in and out, touch the screen to pull the top shelf to eye level.

Nice. Both implementations are very appealing.