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QR Codes: Library

QR codes also known as quick response codes are everywhere. They are even showing up in the library. What are they and why are they on the shelves near my favorite books? QR codes are a relatively new technology that is being touted as marketing magic. They can put information right at your fingertips.

Let’s start with the what? QR codes are two dimensional barcodes that are formatted differently than traditional barcodes. We have all seen barcodes on packaging when we make a purchase of consumer goods. These one dimensional codes are usually used to store product codes including price. UPC codes as these product barcodes are known contain an eleven digit code. Barcodes allow quick scanning for price and product inventory. Makes sense that this traditional barcode would be made bigger and better.

Enter QR codes. Developed in Japan in 1994 and used in the automobile industry, QR codes are two dimensional barcodes that can hold over 7000 characters. The original use of QR codes was to track auto parts and manufacturing. The potential for what can be stored in a QR code is huge. It goes way beyond basic product information. The codes are being used in many venues as a way to connect consumers with products and businesses.

All you need to see what treasures are stored in a QR codes is a smartphone with a QR scanner application loaded. You turn on the app, point the camera at the code and that’s all there is to it. The information imbedded in the QR code with either show up directly on your phone or you will be redirected to a mobile friendly website.

So, why are QR codes showing up at the library? Placed in strategic spots around the library they are an interactive device that may well entice younger users to participate in the library experience. Scanning a QR code in the library can give you instructions on where to find the books that you are interested in. On the jacket of a book a QR code may contain statistics on the author of the book as well as the titles of other books that he/she has written. The use of QR codes can also be an engaging method of encouraging a reader to expand their reading horizons.

Because of the amount of data that can be imbedded in a QR code there are many reasons to use the technology. Academic libraries are jumping on the QR code bandwagon as well. Students are using their cell phones and are technologically savvy. The QR code gives the library the opportunity to link the physical setting with the virtual world. The advancement allows library patrons to go a step beyond.

As the QR code becomes more prevalent we are seeing them in a variety of places. Libraries, shopping venues, billboards, magazines, restaurants, bars, and even our mail are sources of QR code information. The technology is relatively low cost and easy to use which makes it an attractive possibility for even small businesses. Next time you see one of these matrix-like boxes, pull out your phone and see what info is hiding inside. You might be pleasantly surprised.

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