Street view for library stacks
February 2, 2011 2:10 AM   Subscribe

Inspired by this recent post on MF, wherein Google now offers us access to some of the great museums, can I set up some sort of home-grown 'street view' for library patrons to have a look through closed stacks? Would it be super tough to do?
posted by aesop to Technology (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I attended a Google tech talk on street view in which they sketched out the image capture / image processing / gis workflow for street view, and yeah, doing it that way would be tough.

However, if you have a modestly sized stacks area that you want to map, I think you could do something a little more manual, a little less automated. Check out this interface to the artist Donald Judd's Library. Once you're viewing a section of shelves, click on an individual shelf. Then mouse over individual books...
posted by alb at 5:53 AM on February 2, 2011

In a word, it is too damn hard for you to do. Maybe try this...
posted by darkgroove at 6:07 AM on February 2, 2011

To add to the Google workflow alb mentioned above, another critical element you'd have to add for a useful library application would be integration with the library's ILS (which can be beastly pieces of software).

That said, some bright people in the library world are working on such projects already. NCSU Libraries have created a "virtual book shelf" from within their online catalog. Also, the guy that created this "Stack View" is now working over at the Harvard Library Lab on a more expanded version.
posted by dicaxpuella at 7:50 AM on February 2, 2011

Interesting stuff, thank you all. I think that the Judd-style option or something similar offers the most viable way forward.

Hooking up the ILS isn't going to be an option, though. I don't work for the 'right department' to go messing, and as we are a junior partner of a consortium (well, we act like one anyways) we'd presumably go nuts on the handwringing before we scraped any data ('we can't possibly use it for anything other than what we paid for...' etc). Not that I fancy getting into its guts anyway!

I think that my OPAC uses permalinks though, so I could at least put a few landmarks up as a (sort of) proof of concept.

We've no money at all to do this job, just me, my lunch hour, my camera and whatever freeware I can get (I'll pay attention to licenses before the public/staff in general sees anything).

I basically think I can do something a bit like the Judd library, though without the actual catalogue bit. (I'll probably just flag up general subject areas and have a way for people to browse the 'Italian Painting' or whatever.)

Weird perspective on the individual bookshelves though. Is that because the pictures are composited that way do you think, or is it just Judd being Judd?

Anyway, thanks for the idea. I actually think that, nice as the virtual-eyeball-tour one gets from streetview and the like is, the Judd interface is probably more useful. But that's another question about presence and systems in libraries, and the ways the relationship between them works out. Thanks all.
posted by aesop at 12:16 AM on February 3, 2011

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