Application of QR Codes in Libraries…02.28.10

28 02 2010

For more on QR Codes, search my blog as there are many posts on the subject…

Here is a nice summary of their uses in libraries excerpted from Aaron Tay:

“…There seems to be 2 main uses,

(1) Embed QR codes in the virtual world (e.g. blogs, online catalogues, webpages,)

(2) Add QR codes in the real world (e.g. At book shelves, checkout machines, posters)

The other aspect seems to be what data is embedded in the QR codes, again there seems to be two main choices

(1) A URL (maybe even to a RSS feed)

(2) Some other data (Text, SMS, Phone number, email)

I think there are other more exotic data that can be encoded? (Vcard formats? geolocations?) using various QRcode generators , but this suffices for now.

I think is that while you can easily embed a url for QRcodes, if the destination (OPAC, blog etc) is not mobile friendly, it might not be such a good idea to link to the site?

For example, the University of Bath Libraries, embeds QRcodes to each library catalogue, scanning the QRcodes yields you text – The title , the author and the call number/location, rather than bringing you to the Online catalogue.

I suspect this is because the university of Bath Libraries’ catalogue is not mobile friendly. Even if the library has a mobile friendly catalogue is it really better to link to the online record itself? I’m not sure.

In any case, the more mobile friendly your site is, the far more use you get out of QRcodes, because you can directly them seamlessly to a mobile friendly site. Without mobile friendly sites you can still of course embed urls, it just wouldn’t be that effective, as the user would need to struggle to surf on a site that isn’t suitable for mobile surfing…

Add QR codes in the real world

This class of use cases are probably more interesting. The problem here is that you can add QRcodes to literally any real world location both within and outside the library, hence there are many  possible ideas. Add the fact that QRcodes cost nothing to generate (except maybe a bit of ink), and one can go crazy with them.

But when should one embed additional information in a QRcode and what information should be added? The paradigm example could be a real-world object, say an object on display, and a QRcode to meta-data. Perhaps links to constantly updated information such as schedules, interactive media that work well on computers.

But one must be careful not to leave out users who do not use QRcodes. It seems to me in most cases you must include information in both normal text form as well as in QRcode. Sure you could add QRcodes to promotion material say link to your webpage, but you definitely need the text as well.

But should one provide equal access to information and interactivity to users who use QRcodes and non-users? Sometimes it’s not possible.

Some ideas here

(1) Posters and promotional material

The usual things could be added here, QRcodes to urls (see here), contact details of librarians etc. If it’s an event it can be a link to the events calender booking system, or just the event details if no booking is required, or geolocations to googlemaps etc

(2) Book/Journal shelves

QRcodes at print journal shelves, linking to electronic versions?

As for book shelves, perhaps each book shelf could be embedded with QRcodes linking to catalogue records, reading lists/recommended books in the specific shelves. Special collections could link to metadata, video, podcast, feedback, interactive game etc

(3) Individual books or journals

Could QRcodes totally replace barcodes? QRcodes could possibly be linked to RFID tags, so users could do self-check outs. Even if they did not, librarians could be armed with Itouches and roving librarians could quickly check status of books.

If this is too much effort, one could this for

(4) At self-check machines or various locations of interest

Create instructional views on how to use self-check machine on YouTube? Add a QRcode that goes to the YouTube video. Want to book a discussion room or computer? Scan a QRcode that sends you to the online booking system.

Have a book display? Add QRcodes to the book covers!

(5) Direction/Signs

Makes signs more interactive. Instead of just a sign that says “Level 5 : Reference” , perhaps the user could scan the QRcode and be sent to a webpage describing the level? Or Flickr pictures? How about a treasure hunt/library orientation?

(6) Others

QRcode on business cardsUse QRcontacts to generate QRcodes of your contacts on Iphone screen. Frequently asked videos or podcasts on pads at the reference desk? or even on Librarian shirts? QRcodes to location based sites like foursquare? Use in classrooms? Or totally wild ideas like augmented reality…”




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