A localization system for library items using SVG


As the ICT department of a modern university library one of our main goals is to minimize all the routine work of the library staff. With this goal in mind we analyzed the types of questions the library staff needs to answer during their day-time job. For the most frequently asked questions we provide as much information as possible on our website.

For questions like "Where do I find a book on topic A?", "Where do I find journal B?" or even "Where are the toilets?" this FAQ approach is inadequate. Since these repetitive questions are asked daily we decided to build a localization tool. To accomplish this we needed some type of interactive visualization of the library racks and floors. We decided to use SVG because it is a very promising open-standards web-based technology.

Through the use of SVG and the SVG DOM API we are able to provide an interactive two-dimensional interface. This interface allows our users to explore the library building or search for one specific library item. We use a database that holds all the locations of the library items in the building. The system responds to "Where do I find journal B" by highlighting a specific rack on the floor plan. When this rack is clicked the system dynamically generates a detailed SVG image that shows the content of the rack.

Our application, called "Locator", works in SVG-enabled Mozilla builds as well as in Internet Explorer with the Adobe SVG plugin. There is also an administrative interface provided so that the librarians can keep the locations for all items up-to-date.

Future challenges include improving the usability of the application, making it easier and faster for librarians to keep locations up-to-date. One of the key issues here is that we don't want to reload SVG images whenever we need to consult or update the database.

The paper describes our application in detail and also discusses some improvements which we plan to implement in the near future.