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.