So I’ve been spending my time making a few changes to my proof of concept cataloging application using my phone. A couple of things that I’ve learned along the way:
- No matter how good the OCR is, I’m not sure it ever gets to a point where you can just happily scan a catalog card and get all the data perfectly. You can thank ISBD punctuation for that.
- Setting holds data in OCLC is much easier than you’d think it would be, thanks to the Z39.50 Extended properties.
- Adding a barcode reader really was easier than I thought it would be
Right now, the proof of concept allows users search (and set holdings) to OCLC (using their login credentials) or search and download records from US LC. You can scan a barcode to get the record, or you can scan a library card and allow the program to attempt to disassemble the metadata to determine the best search profile. Obviously, of the methods, this one is the most dodgy, but it’s interesting to see how it works and how OCR incrementally improves.
As I’ve been working on this, it’s been making me wonder what are the real life implications for a project like this. Obviously, one of the goals was to make taking catalog cards and making them easier to recon. But the ability to use the phone as a barcode scanner and catalog on the fly also makes me wonder if a tool like this could be used while shelf reading or at point of acquisition of a text, or at a circulation desk when working with a book without a record.
One benefit of this work as well, is that since this code is being written in C#, I’m starting to think about how I might co-op some of this work in MarcEdit. The idea being that a user could upload a set of images to a folder and then MarcEdit could OCR those images and utilize the data from those images to automatically retrieve records for that content. I’m not quite sure how reasonable of an idea this really is at this point due to limitations with OCR, but from a technical standpoint, I have all the components I would need to make this happen. So who knows, maybe this work will spawn something new and innovative yet. Well see.