Hear a unique melody when you scan your library card

Maker Simon Belshaw has created a Raspberry Pi-powered library card scanner that plays a unique tune every time a visitor scans their barcode.

How does it work?

Waveshare barcode scanner, powered by Raspberry Pi, is the brains of the build. The program is written in Python and Simon installed fluidsynth to create the sounds.

The scanner reads the numbers on the barcode of each library card and these determine what melody is played. Every card has a different melody and the same one is played each time that particular card is scanned, so each library visitor has their own signature tune.

Laura Collins designed the gorgeous plywood and acrylic box housing Simon’s invention. The frosted acrylic lets some light pass through so that you can see the Raspberry Pi hard at work inside. We’re not sure if this is where Laura took her inspiration, but maker Simon says the translucent design is reminiscent of the original iMac. Man, I wanted one of those in lime green so, so badly.

Libraries are cool

Arts Council England funded the project, and Simon developed it with the help of Somerset, Devon and Torbay Libraries in the south west of England. Each site agreed to have its own musical library card scanner installed at the end of the project.

Simon completed the project back in January, so devices should already be installed in St. Thomas Library (Exeter), Taunton Library, and Torquay Library. Go and have a play if you’re a library member down in those parts. And if you’re not, why don’t you have a library card?! For the bargain price of FREE and NOTHING, your card gets you access not only to thousands and thousands of books, but also printers (no one has a printer at home anymore, not with ink in it anyway), photocopiers, free internet, and DVDs to rent (seeing as Blockbuster bit the bullet). There’s probably even a nice cafĂ© of some sort. In short: libraries are cool, and Simon has just made these three even cooler.

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Such a cool project at the intersection of Art and technology. Very inspiring!

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