QR Codes

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QR Codes ("Quick Reference" Codes) are essentially 2-dimensional barcodes. They can contain hundreds of times more data than conventional 1-dimensional barcodes [1]. Initially created for use in the shipping industry, they are gaining popularity for marketing to people with smart-phones. Many consumer-oriented QR codes point users to a website address, although other types of data storage are possible. Generally, users scan the QR Code with a scanning device (for example, the camera on a smart phone), and they are automatically directed to a website or the application specialized to handle the code's data. The idea is to allow users to avoid the hassle of remembering or manually reproducing long, precise strings of data.

Uses in Libraries

  • Lawrence University Seeley G. Mudd Libraryhas created a QR code information page to help our patrons understand QR codes. We use QR codes to direct patrons to our virtual tour, to electronic music resources, to our mobile web site, to begin text messages to the interlibrary loan office, and more. Take a look at our Flickr page to see all of the ways we use QR codes.
  • Boise State University's Albertsons Library uses QR codes to link to its mobile website in its blog and main Twitter page. There is also an informative research guide about QR codes--what they are, how they are being used in Albertsons Library, tips on creating effective codes, and recommended QR code readers/scanners.
  • Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library uses QR codes for its library audio tour, for Group Study Room on-the-spot reservations (http://lib.byu.edu/sites/qrcodes/) and for event poster information download.
  • Half Hollow Hills Community Library uses datamatrix codes on end stacks to lead patrons to subject guides on the web.
  • ACU Library uses mobile tags in library exhibits to link to songs, videos, websites, and realtime searches of our library catalog. It's a good way to incorporate electronic media with physical items and to make the display more engaging.
  • Bath University Library is adding QR codes to catalog records to offer patrons basic info about an item (including location and call number).
  • Biblioteca Rector Gabriel Ferraté. Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (BRGF) uses QR Codes to provide additional information on promotional posters and on the web pages, to provide username and password to users who subscribe to theCLIC Area service (a computer classroom), to generate reminders of reservations of the group study rooms library, to fill the suggestion forms or to enrich the contents of the library’s jazz collection. Take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQj3kD0F2uI to know more about one of the QR applications at the BRGF.
  • Lafayette College Library used QR codes for their 2010 Open House event geared to first year students, "Where in the Library is Carmen Sandiego: An Interactive Mystery Game". Students had to collect QR coded-clues from librarians stationed throughout the library.
  • RMIT University Library used QR codes for a contest it was running.
  • Ryerson University Library and Archives is using QR codes in its library catalogue and for downloadable audio tours.
  • Sacramento Public Library offers a QR code to patrons that will load the library's text message reference service info into the patron's phone. The code can be found on the Text 4 Answers page of the library website and the library's blog. More info at The Civil Librarian.
  • University of Huddersfield Library is using them for linking to text messaging reference service, videos, contact info, and, in the catalog records, providing basic info about items. See Andrew Walsh's presentation, "QR codes, text a librarian, and more..."
  • The San Diego State University Library is using QR Codes in its library catalog, on staff directory pages and on research guides.
  • Emily Carr University of Art + Design Library is using QR codes in displays and signage.
  • Contra Costa County Library is using QR codes to market downloadable audiobooks to people using public transit.
  • Contra Costa County Library is using QR codes on popular books to recommend further reading.
  • George Fox University Libraries are using QR codes on DVDs and audiobooks to point users to video trailers, on doors for room reservations and more - see our flickr set of examples [2]
  • Syracuse University Library Learning Commons is using QR Codes on their bookmarks, tabletop signs, and on the flyer advertising their virtual tour - see our set on Flickr [3].
  • UC Irvine Libraries is running a pilot with QR codes in the stacks. The Arts section directs QR code users to LC arts classification system to aid browing the physical book collections. The Math section uses QR codes embedded in the stacks to direct users to the Springer mathematics ebook collections.
  • Marathon County Public Library (MCPL) uses QR codes on posters and other print media to connect customers to search results for related items in the library catalog (i.e. for book clubs, author visits, etc. ... links to the item(s) in question)
  • Southwest Iowa Library Service Area (SWILSA) has begun a "shared" list of readalikes for various popular authors. A sheet of codes, formatted for label stickers, is available to print and attach to shelves near those authors' books.
  • Providence College Library developed an introductory QR subject guide as a complement to their QR initiative. The guide includes an explanatory animation, QR uses at Providence College, linked resources and more.
  • Tompkins County Public Library is using QR codes to advertise its downloadable eBook service, themed booklists and its social networking sites. Our QR code guide contains basic information and examples of our work.

Creating QR Codes

  • Google Chart Tools allows you to create QR codes for any link, or (with a little programming know-how) automatically generate codes on the fly using their API. For a quick QR code using this service, visit the following link (and substitute your URL for "www.libsuccess.org"): http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?chs=200x200&cht=qr&chl=http://www.libsuccess.org. QR codes also allow for a certain margin of error, which can be used to create some more artistic QR codes. For examples and a guide on this process visit [4]

Easily found on Pinterest, many libraries are using QR codes to lead to trailers of popular books like Ellen Hopkins books and "Audrey, Wait". Trailers can be found at [5].

More Info on QR Codes

Ashford, Robin. "QR codes and academic libraries: Reaching mobile users." College & Research Libraries News, November 2010. [6]

Rigby, Lex. "QR Codes in Libraries and Higher Education." Just Another Dent in the Damage, 26 March 2009. Web.

Walsh, Andrew. QR tags and mobile 'phones in the library. Web.

Walsh, Andrew. "Extreme makeover: Transforming the face of your Library Service." QR tags and 'mobile phones in the library, 19 October 2009. Web.