Note: This document is a simple collection of my ideas and plans for this module. Some of the features discussed aren't properly implemented yet. This document will have to do until I (or someone) gets around to write proper documentation.
This ACS module is intended to bring order into a large pile of books, journals, papers, clippings and other non-virtual, old-economy publications. At first, it was mainly meant to manage my personal library, but it looks like it is not that hard to make it even more useful by adding collaboration functionality for multiple users and user groups.
There are several areas of functionality:
Personal users can manage their own collections, along with any other literature they may want to feed into the database. Loaned books are welcome, even the return-by date can be stored. Things that the user owns can be marked as "checked out", if they are loaned to a friend - of course the date and the friend's name are stored as well, so that nothing becomes a long-term donation to Other People's Bookshelf.
Another application is procurement (shopping): for this, books are entered that do not exist in a library or in the user's bookshelf, but impertinently enough only on some vendor's shelf. For these, price quotes from different vendors can be stored in a buylist, which enables the system to perform an automatic comparison, taking into account shipping costs, currency conversions etc. to generate an optimized shopping list. A neat extension of this for those who like browsing a bricks-and-mortar (or paper-and-glue?) bookstore would be a HotSync module for the PalmPilot (or similar devices - I only own a Palm). This should be two-way: download the shopping list, take the Palm into the store, buy some books from the list, find interesting new ones and enter basic info into your Palm right there in the store, go home, hotsync, and find the new items on your BookCave buylist.
Scientific struggle - or human curiousness - is helped by the comments feature, which allows the storage of comments, excerpts, abstracts etc. This is also useful to make a note of where the book in question was encountered (book review, other book, citation...). This is implemented by using the ACS General Comments module.
Another feature are Collections, which allow the user to put a subset of publications into named groups. The aim is to create sub-libraries specific to a certain subject (this would be on a permanent basis) or to certain projects (this would be temporary). This could be augmented by functions to create formatted output for bibliographies (e.g. for the BibTeX system, or in HTML).