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Two fast prototypes of web-based augmented reality enhancement for books

Dan Lou (Department of Information, Technology and Collection, Palo Alto City Library, Palo Alto, California, USA)

Library Hi Tech News

ISSN: 0741-9058

Article publication date: 18 October 2019

Issue publication date: 13 November 2019




The purpose of this paper is to identify a light and scalable augmented reality (AR) solution to enhance library collections.


The author first did research to identify the major obstacle in creating a scalable AR solution. Next, she explored possible workaround methods and successfully developed two prototypes that make the current Web-based AR work with ISBN barcode.


Libraries have adopted AR technology in recent years mainly by developing mobile applications for specific education or navigation programs. Yet a straight-forward AR solution to enhance a library's collection has not been seen. One of the obstacles lies in finding a scalable and painless solution to associate special AR objects with physical books. At title level, books already have their unique identifier – the ISBN number. Unfortunately, marker-based AR technology only accept two-dimensional (2-D) objects, not the one-dimensional (1-D) EAN barcode (or ISBN barcode) used by books, as markers for technical reasons. In this paper, the author shares her development of two prototypes to make the Web-based AR work with the ISBN barcode. With the prototypes, a user can simply scan the ISBN barcode on a book to retrieve related AR content.

Research limitations/implications

This paper mainly researched and experimented with Web-based AR technologies in the attempt to identify a solution that is as platform-neutral as possible, and as user-friendly as possible.

Practical implications

The light and platform-neutral AR prototypes discussed in this paper have the benefits of minimum cost on both the development side and the experience side. A library does not need to put any additional marker on any book to implement the AR. A user does not need to install any additional applications in his/her smartphone to experience the AR. The prototypes show a promising future where physical collections inside libraries can become more interactive and attractive by blurring the line of reality and virtuality.

Social implications

The paper can help initiate the discussion on applying Web-based AR technologies to library collections.



Lou, D. (2019), "Two fast prototypes of web-based augmented reality enhancement for books", Library Hi Tech News, Vol. 36 No. 10, pp. 19-24.



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