The Browsing Collection display for the month of November includes a new feature, using a QR code to connect visitors, via their mobile device, to the tagged list of books included in the display. This is the first of several QR code implementations we’re currently in the process of launching at Marriott Library.
What is a QR code? A QR code is a two-dimensional, or data matrix code designed to be decoded at high speed by mobile devices and smartphones. Generally, QR codes are embedded with a URL, but they can also be used for anything from pushing out phone numbers, text and contact information to delivering RSS feeds and Google Places/Maps to a mobile device. QR codes are read using a QR code reader that has been downloaded to the mobile device. QR code readers use your mobile device or smartphone camera to decode the QR code and open the URL or display the associated information. You can find a list of readers and supported readers by mobile device and smartphone manufacturer here. QR codes are easy to create and there are many generators available free of charge. Most generators offer a statistics feature making tracking the frequency of use very easy.
Marriott launched experiments with QR codes because of the ubiquity of use of mobile devices in the library and on campus at the University of Utah. We are interested in providing our faculty, students and visitors with quick and efficient access to the information they want in the format they want it in. Currently at Marriott Library we are using QR codes to connect patrons to the catalog, browse course reserves, view classroom schedules, check library hours, get directions and call the Knowledge Commons desk.
In the future, we will be using QR codes to connect the physical with the digital by placing QR codes next to the artwork in the library’s permanent art collection. When scanned, the code will route to the collection online where there will be additional information related to the work. This is an interesting opportunity to provide our patrons with an immersive experience and is expected to be fully in place by June 2011.
QR codes were created in 1994 by the Japanese corporation Denso-Wave to serve as an inventory tool. The technology was used as an inventory tool for several years until a few years ago when the availability and use of mobile devices with internet access exploded. This development led to a new lease on life for QR codes which began to get adopted by advertisers and merchandisers as a cheap and efficient way to promote goods and services. QR codes are widespread in Asia, Australia, Europe and the UK. While still relatively new to the US, the use of QR codes in libraries is anticipated to be an efficient and effective way to address a variety of patron needs.
The potential for QR codes to play a significant role in education is beginning to take shape as well. For example, the University of Technology in Sydney (UTS), Australia, has created a poster demonstrating the application of QR codes in teaching, learning and research.
Publishers are also getting on-board by incorporating QR codes in print in order to connect the reader with additional resources, interactive forums and related video and audio, here is one such example.
We’ll be posting updates on the QR code experiment at Marriott. Do you have an idea for implementing a QR code that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear it!