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QR Codes and Libraries

Page history last edited by Teresa Ashley 8 years, 9 months ago


I heard of QR codes a couple years ago, but didn’t get really interested in them until my son returned from business trips to Europe and raved about his experiences with them.


Suddenly, it seemed news of application of the codes outside Europe and Japan (where they have been used for more than a decade), was popping up everywhere: I read that they were used at the Google Atmosphere conference, at SWSX in Austin in March 2010 (see Gina Trapani's Mar 16, 2010 article in Fast Company) and at the Computers in Libraries Conference April 12 - April 14, 2010 (see Digitization 101, April 15, 2010 ).


What are they? Natali Del Conte provides a good overview in her video: “Use Barcode-Like Symbols to Share Stuff!” The Early Show, CBS News. Spring 2010.


QR, or 2d Codes bridge the gap between the “real” world and the online world. My search for library uses of the barcodes retrieved a “pearl” site from Google: Gerard McKiernan’s Spectrum > Mobile Learning, Libraries, And Technologies blog where he posted results of a similar quest on May 27, 2009. He also provided a link to a list of YouTube videos on QR codes.


McKiernan's blog led me to the U.K. where librarians are using the codes to provide value-added information. Andrew Walsh, University of Huddersfield, UK, seems to have taken the lead in presenting on library applications:


Walsh, Andrew (2010) QR Codes – using mobile phones to deliver library instruction and help at the point of need. Journal of information literacy, 3 (1). pp. 55-65. http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/7759/



-----------------. “QR codes, text a librarian and more...” [Presentation: Extreme makeover: Transforming the face of your Library Service conference in Leeds, U.K.] 26 Oct. 2009.


I had to search the University of Huddersfield Library catalog to see the QR code. You have to look at the detailed record for an item to find it at the bottom of the page.


Andy Ramsden, University of Bath, UK, explores educational uses of QR codes:


Ramsden, Andy. “ Exploring the use of QR Codes as a Learning Technology.” Plymouth e-learning Conference.


------------------. “The potential of QR Codes in Education.” JISC Emerge Users & Innovation Programme Meeting. 29 Jan. 2009.


-------------------.  QR codes at Bath.   [blog] 30 Mar. 2010 and earlier posts discuss the use of QR codes to manage and record student assignments.


The University of Bath library catalog also provides QR codes for books which are available on the shelves, but apparently not for those checked out or otherwise unavailable.


Librarians muse, comment, and share:


QR Codes and Libraries.  Bibliothekia. 28 Sep. 2008.


"Using QR Code in Libraries."  The Proverbial Lone Wolf Librarian's Weblog. [blog] 27 Mar. 2009.


Blowers, Helene. “QR Tags & Concept Leadership.” LibraryBytes. 26 June 2009.


Hill, Nate. "Hyperlinking Reality.” Library Journal. July 2009.


“QR Codes.” Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki. Last modified 7 Dec. 2009.


Hadro, Josh. “QR Codes to Extend Library's Reach In Contra Costa, CA.” Library Journal. 14 Jan. 2010.


Mitchell, Erik. “Handheld Librarian – Mobile tagging / QR codes.” 17 February 2010.


“Web 2.0 Tool Report: QR Codes.” The Secret Life of a Library Student. 27 February 2010.


Tay, Aaron. “QR codes for libraries - some thoughts.” 27 Feb. 2010. Musings about librarianship.


“Holbeach’s e-journals are in the frame.” Library and LR News. 1 Mar. 2010.


Oxley, Cathy. “QR Codes and Libraries.” 4 Mar. 2010. Discovery 2.0.


McCue, Rich. “Funky Bar Codes Make Smart Phones Smarter.” Rich’s Random Thoughts. 12 Mar. 2010.


Griffey, Jason. “Annotating the real world.” ALA TechSource. 11 Mar. 2010.


Thomsen, Elizabeth B. “Connect with Mobile Users Using QR Barcodes.” 9 Apr. 2010. Noble (North Boston Library Exchange).


“QR in the Library – QR Codes.” Providence Library. Libguide. Last Update 12 Apr. 2010.


Bridges, Laurie. “QR Codes - What are they?” N.d.



Michael, Jason, User Experience Librarian. “QR Codes: How they Work.” Miami University Libraries.


Pressley, Lauren. “Quick Response Codes…first in Japan… now in ZSR Library!” Library Gazette (Z. Smith Reynolds Library). 24 Apr. 2010.


WolfWalk. North Carolina State University Libraries.


Summary of ideas for using QR Codes in Libraries:


  • Provide point-of-use instruction at point-of-need locations
  • Have step-by-step instructions on machines like photocopiers and printers
  • Post QR codes by study rooms. Students would be able to check the availability of a study room, and then book it from their cell phone while standing in front of the room
  • QR codes in the stacks could bring up a list of LibGuides on topics related to books in the call number range area
  • QR codes in the stacks could show where the ebooks would be on the shelves
  • QR codes around campus could link to digital libraries or items from special collections related to the different buildings
  • Add QR codes with your contact information to your library website
  • Direct users to a service that’s specifically aimed at mobile devices users, such as a chat or IM reference service, or the mobile version of the library’s catalog or databases
  • QR code to the online Ask a Librarian site could be posted at the physical reference desk and at all public access computer workstations
  • Library tours – barcodes can be placed in different areas of the library so visitors can access information relevant to that particular space. Audio tours can also be provided this way.
  • Library Maps – Instead of just a map that has, Reference, Reserve, Computer Lab on it, put QR codes for every area that has a web page, so that the patron can go directly to that web page for more information.
  • Library reviews – if someone has done a review on a book or item, a QR code can be put on that item, linking to the review.
  • Link to Phone number on a web page so people don’t have to dial the number on their phone.
  • Link to a web page associated with an event by placing a QR code for the web page on the event's poster.
  • QR Codes can be posted at public service desks to advertise services: Laptop checkout, fines, and book renewal information could be posted at the point of service, the Circulation Desk, for instance
  • Help Desk info could be posted on QR codes
  • Tag exhibits (“Mobile Tag Closeup.” ACU Library Photostream.
  • Librarians can tag pre-formatted tailored searches for events and exhibits
  • Add QR codes to poster, flyers, and other library instructional or promotional materials


Teaching and Learning


Educause Learning Initiative. “7 Things You Should Know about QR Codes.” Educause Learning Initiative. Feb. 2009.


“What are the implications for teaching and learning? QR codes link the physical world with the virtual by providing on-the-spot access to descriptive language and online resources for objects and locations. In this way, the codes support experien¬tial learning, bringing scholarship out of the classroom and into physical experience."


Hopkins, David. “QR Codes: Learning Technology.” eLearning Blog Don’t Waste Your Time. 16 Feb. 2010.


Other Uses of QR Codes


Chan, Seb. “QR Codes in the Museum – Problems and Opportunities with Extended Object.” 5 Mar. 2009.


“QR Codes and Genealogy – Part 2.” GeneaBloggers. Mar 2010.


Richwalsky, Mike. “QR Codes Going Slightly More Mainstream.” HighEdWebTech. 1 Mar. 2010.


---------------. "Big Players Embracing QR Codes." 8 Apr. 2010. HighEdWebTech.


Faerber, Fritz. “Travel book goes mobile with scannable QR code.” Physorg.com. 27 Oct. 2009.


QR Codes for event planners.” 21 Feb. 2010.


QR Code Reader Software






Miami University Libraries QR Reader Software

QR Code and 2d Barcode Readers


QRCode Decoder: Don't have a QRCode reader? Try an online one


Want to download one for your phone? QRcode readers


Making QR Codes


QR Code Generators Online


QR Code and Semacode/DataMatrix Barcode Generator


How To Create QR Codes in Chrome for Stealthy Link Sharing


Want to keep up with developments in this area? Follow these blogs:


Smolki, Roger. 2d Code. [blog] http://2d-code.co.uk/


QR Code Forum. http://www.qrme.co.uk/qr-code-forum.html




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