Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Libraries and QR Codes

Image: QR code for the shelf location of  Princess Bride by William Goldman at UQ Library

I have seen QR codes in magazines and at the movies but I really had no idea of what they were. For those of you in the same situation as me, I can tell you that QR codes stands for Quick Response codes and are a type of barcode but can hold more information as they are two dimensional (Walsh, 2009 p.7). They are readable by smart phones and mobile phones with cameras which use a downloadable QR reader. QR Codes can store different types of information such as text and more often a URL and links you a website.

I have difficulty with the concept of QR as social media or social networking software, as on its own it doesn't involve any social interaction. However it is certainly a tool that facilitates social networking as is a means of sharing information and leading people to places where they can collaborate and create content. To me they are more of a marketing tool that is the digital equivalent of business cards. A QR code could be displayed on a shop front which links people to a website which contain more information than could be typed on a business card.

However when I look at how libraries are using QR codes it can be used from more than marketing, and does link people to sites where they can create and share content. QR codes on book can link to information about the author and other books they have written, they can be added to the catalogue to get the shelf location of books, can be linked to library services (Massis, 2011, p.467). QR codes can link patrons to content sharing sites such as Blogs, Facebook pages and Flickr streams which invites them to dialogue with the library on these sites. It can also encourage creation of content. For example a QR code on a book can link patrons to a site where they can review the book. For more ways on how libraries are using QR codes see QR codes on Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki

The benefits of QR codes to libraries is that it joins together the physical and the virtual spaces of the library. They are low cost, easy to implement and have the potential to link patrons to lots of information (Ashford, 2010, p.527). One issue with QR codes is that users require a mobile device that can take photos and those patrons who do not have this technology will not be able to access this added information.

Ashford, R. (2010). QR codes and academic libraries: Reaching mobile users.
College and Research Libraries News, 71(10), 526-530. Retrieved from
Massis, Bruce E. (2011). QR codes in the library New Library World, 112 (9), 466-469
Walsh. Andrew. (2009).Quick response codes and libraries. Library Hi Tech News, 26(5), 7-9.

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