Are there still books without an ISBN and corresponding barcode?
Is there not some kind of ISBN->Dewey Decimal lookup?
I assume it's nt quite this trivial, but why not?
An augmented-reality application can look at a shelf of books and tell you which ones are out of order, for the professional librarian or obsessive compulsive bibliophile. The books have to be tagged first with a machine-readable label, but once that's done the user can walk down the shelves looking for red crosses in a sea of …
But I would suspect that ISBN numbers are given out sequentially - there may be some sort of grouping, but nothing to indicate how it relates to other books in the same genre.
You would need to implement a database system to tie a specific book to other books in a particular collection.
Some info on ISBN is here: http://www.isbn.org/standards/home/isbn/us/isbnqa.asp
Nobody, but *nobody* shelves their library in ISBN order. By author, by title or by subject would be good. The British Library makes the British National Bibliographic datasets available for free (registration required; non-commercial use), see http://www.bl.uk/bibliographic/datafree.html.
Note that the Dewey Decimal Classification is a proprietary system which you must licence from OCLC.
RFID, when used in Libraries is great, however it seems to be built up as some sort of magic bullet for all your Libraries issues where in reality it is good for some things (self check etc) and very ordinary for others (security for instance).
On to the subject at hand, while it can be done, most of the RFID scanners purchased by Libraries are bought for Inventory and stock control (or looking for specific items on a shelf) and are not necessarily that accurate for checking shelf order. If you want to process a whole shelf load of items quickly, using a portable RFID scanner is great, likewise finding an individual item on a shelf and its general location quickly is where they can shine too. Checking shelf position (especially of thin items) is not nearly so good.
"That might be too much for a library, which will have to judge the cost of labelling every book against the expense incurred by having one in the wrong place;"
In the old days one dealt with this by sending ill-paid or volunteer pages down the row to check the order and ensure that the books were pulled out to the edge of the shelf. The young were best, as having more stamina, the flexibility to check the bottom shelves, and close vision yet.
"but it won't put off obsessive bibliophiles who know you can't put a price on perfection."
Is it bibliophiles or fetishists you mean? Would you consider a perfectly kept bedroom to be the sign of a passion-filled sex life?
Look for straight lines to identify books whether vertical or horizontal.
Take biometric type info, eg: identifiable text (ocr'd if possible), identifiable barcodes (scanned if possible), identifiable font types, identifiable coloured regions, distances between identified items, etc.
Log "fingerprint" against book.
Build robot to find book.
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