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QR Codes

QR Codes are similar to bar codes but they are two-dimensional.  They are beginning to appear in many environments, but perhaps the most frequent application is to install a reader on a mobile phone, and then take pictures of the codes, which lead the user to some relevant information.  David Lee King described how the Topeka library had a “Big Read QR Scavenger Hunt”, in which people scanned the codes to get clues to the locations on the hunt.  The first stop was a bookstore, and the next was an art gallery.  Contestants completing all 5 stops on the hunt were entered into a drawing for a basket of rewards.

Even though the hunt was widely advertised, and 300 people started it, only 8 finished.  People did not want to drive all over the city to find the codes, and at several of the stores, they were unable to find the posters with the code and were uncomfortable asking about them.  But King and the sponsors of the hunt learned a lot about codes in the community, discovered more uses for the technology, and found out that many people are using the technology.  So in that respect, the hunt was successful.

John Lutz and Margaret Clark

John Lutz and Margaret Clark from the Florida College of Law Research Center have used QR Codes widely in their library.  (Since they furnished a code for their presentation, those with cell phones need read no further!)

Here are some of their applications:

  • Make content accessible through multiple access  points.  Students can download PDF of a paper document to their cell phones.  (There is a menu option in Adobe Acrobat to put the code on a document.)
  • Used Microsoft Publisher to create bookmarks with codes to access the catalog, databases, research guides, hours, and their blog.
  • Put code on every book in new book display that accesses an online review of that book.
  • Displayed signs on shelves to educate students about online equivalents of print sources.
  • Printed codes on Avery peelable labels which can be stuck on handouts, etc.
  • Embedded vCards (a standard for formatting contact information in phones) in codes.
  • Created videos with Adobe Captivate and uploaded them to YouTube which converts the material to a Flash file and an mpeg file (using the h.264 standard) designed for mobile access.


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