This apparatus is for borrowing materials from the library. One finds a “coded bar” artifact located inside the book’s cover and aligns it under a red energy beam. Within the machine, clever magics sense the book’s title and author and create a record of the borrower’s identity.
(later) Well, as the human female would say, rats. It appears I cannot check out the Book of Karl without an identification card. Library staff will not issue me one, and she keeps most careful watch over hers. Perhaps I can simply read the book here in the building?
I wonder if the contraption works on things other than books? Observe! I have aligned myself under the red energy beam and have been correctly identified.