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The role of augmented reality (AR) in the library is generally an interactive one that provides patrons access to more information than they would find using only print materials or even traditional online search engines. Some types of augmented reality also help librarians organize books and other materials more efficiently. Other kinds of AR technology can digitally identify the titles that library visitors examine and show them graphics suggesting similar books that may also interest them. Using augmented reality in the library can potentially help both serious researchers and casual visitors locate relevant information without the need to spend time searching through tables of contents or looking for a specific book by its catalog number.
Visitors to a new or unfamiliar library often find that it takes a little while to learn the general building layout and where to find specific books by subject. Adding augmented reality in the library can potentially help new patrons by listing the book sections located on each floor or in each separate room. It can also allow visitors to see and scroll through a list of the titles located on each shelf. When they find a book of interest, a mediated reality application can highlight its exact location on a certain shelf. Other informative graphics connected to a certain title can also list other books by the same author or that have similar subject matter.
Using augmented reality in the library can possibly increase work productivity for librarians and their support staff. Maintaining book inventory can often be tedious and time-consuming, particularly when books are placed on the shelves in an incorrect order. Library workers can use AR technology that scans the codes on each book's spine and shows which books need to be moved. This type of application can also include directions for shelving these books correctly.
Devices used for augmented reality in the library frequently include tablet computers and smartphones. Some downloaded applications also add a social media element to regular library browsing. Patrons can select AR software that will allow them to examine a book's subject without removing it from the shelf. They can also use the same program to read reviews on the book that other readers have posted, add notes on the subject matter, and recommend books to their friends. This kind of augmented reality in the library also has the potential to draw in new visitors who may not have had much prior interest in libraries.