Scan a books barcode and get a fully formatted reference? #UKedchat

You probably know how keen I am on QR Codes, and how good useful I think they could be in a library environment (place the code on a shelf or book cover to indicate, and link to, the eBook version, that kind of thing).

However, I came across this little idea that brings together the scanning properties of smart phones (iPhone, Blackberry, Android phones, etc) and an online database of book titles and publisher details. Bring them together and you get the ability to produce a fully formatted reference for your academic piece of work.

Do you get it?

The idea is not new (it is to me, but not to these guys from the University of Waterloo) and this post “Smartphone App Makes Book Citations a Snap” goes some way to what I was thinking. The above project has it’s downsides, namely;

  • It only produces a fully formatted reference / citation for a limited reference style (at Bournemouth and a fair few other UK HEIs we use the Harvard style to format references)
  • It does not produce, as advertised, a fully-formatted citation, but a slightly concatenated version (“Cambridge Univ Pr” instead of “Cambridge University Press”)
  • It relies on books having a barcode. Not all books are young enough to have a barcode so students using that still rely and use older books (medicine, law, etc) will suffer here

If you could link this together with online sources like Amazon, Google Books, the (huge list of) publishers and journals, and get the citation/reference exact each and every time then this could indeed be quite a powerful little tool.

Oh, and you’d need an app that would have an edition for phones on the many different platforms to be truly useful. Just look around your campus and you’ll see a plethora or iPhones, Blackberrys and phones running Android OS.

Many thanks to Brian Knotts (@BrianKnotss) for this story.

  • http://twitter.com/barsch41 Dustin Barsch

    I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange’s class. I think that would be great as long as it works. You could scan the book to use the book or books you need. You might be able if someone has the time to scan the books that do not have a barcode and add a barcode to it. You could email the teachers to have proof of you reading it with the embedded numbers in the email. Some of these apps are free and that would be great and useful. I will be putting a brief summary of the blog on a later date at barschdustinedm310.blogspot.com.

  • Jhowell

    Scan a books barcode =
    Scan a book’s barcode =

  • http://pigsonthewing.org.uk Andy Mabbett / @pigsonthewing

    Sounds useful; perhaps a link-up with Zotero might be a way to do this?