QR Codes @ My Library

QR codes are popping up everywhere, from billboards to newspapers to soda cans.  They are versatile and powerful, and here are some ways folks are using them:

Open a webpage – This is the most common use of a QR code.

Display text – Imagine you are standing in front of a piece of art work at an exhibit with a QR code next to it.  The QR code provides additional text to the description of the art work, or in some cases replaces it altogether.  This saves wall-space and provides for a “cleaner” appearance.

Display/add Contact info to mobile phone – Putting  QR code on your business card or as part of your signature lines in your email allows people to easy get that information into their mobile device without having to type text or potentially misplace your information.

“Like” a Facebook Page – The QR code I have highlighted above is the Facebook “like” code for my library’s Page.

Send an email to a specified address – Email a librarian!

Send a text message to a specified number – Text a librarian!

Highlight a geographical location – Below is the QR code to our location on Google Maps so you won’t get lost when you come to visit me:

Palm Beach State College - Lake Worth Campus

Google Maps Location

There are many other ways libraries specifically use QR codes outside of posters and flyers:

End stacks – Link to subject guides

Imagine a student lost deep within the stack and frustrated about not being able to find what s/he is looking for. Rather than having to walk all the way back to the reference desk, lo and behold!  There are a QR codes at the end of the stacks!  Some lead to your library’s Libguides on various subjects in that area (Libguides are mobile friendly and on my Gold List), and at least one is to text, call or IM a librarian.

Periodical shelves – Link to online version

Now students who peruse through the print periodicals can have immediate access to the online version from the convenience of their mobile device.

Exhibits – Provide more information about subject, art, etc.

Here we can take the exhibit idea even further by not only providing text, but linking to a website, an audio file, or even a video providing more information about a particular piece of art.

Library Tours

The Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University is using QR codes and audio files to create a library tour experience for freshman.  You can do the same with audio or video or even simple text (but that’s not as engaging).

Library videos

Can we ever have too many? They help students in so many ways:

“How do I make a photo copy?”
“How do I use the scanner?”
“How do I find journal articles?”

There are so many questions that can be answered with a video or at least give the student some added insight before they may need to approach the reference desk (or call, text, IM).

The idea is that we can provide students with help at the point of need. If they are deep within the stacks, they can text, email or call a librarian.  If they are using a copy machine in some obscure section of the library far from the reference desk, a video could be very helpful, but then so would the ability to immediately call, text or IM a librarian.  This is the next generation of reference services.  Admittedly it is not as ideal as sitting face-to-face with a student, but it provides a level of service that is needed by our students.  This need is exemplified by Brian Johnstone (2011), a colleague of mine in Pennsylvania, who recently wrote, ” With Meebo, we made a curious discovery: some of our Meebo users were within the library building when they made use of the service.”  QR codes facilitate this process and enable us therefore to provide better service at the point of need.

QR Codes: How do I use thee?  Let me count the ways…

We began using QR codes by adding them to our handouts for the classes we teach. The codes point students to associated Libguides and Web content.  We’ve recently started using QR codes even more in our library in a variety of ways:

QR Codes @ Palm Beach State College

Flora, the Florida Panther

Flora, Libary Mascot

Flora is a Florida panther, so an appropriate mascot for our library here in Southeast Florida.  I created a video in Xtranormal using a character that looked like Flora.  It’s less than a minute long so as not to impede upon anyone’s attention span, and yet it is entertaining and engaging.  We plan to promote this video and our QR Code Adventures in the Library series in the beginning of the Fall semester.

In the upper left hand corner of the slide is a QR code that leads to the first video in our five video series called, QR Code Adventures in the Library. It’s a series of videos that are revealed by finding QR codes placed throughout the library. Each video is entertaining as well as educational and provides a clue at the end to help find the next QR code.  In the process the student should stop by the reference desk at least once and unwittingly gain an increased familiarity with the library.

The idea behind QR Code Adventures is to provide a catalyst that will not only teach students more about the library in a fun way, but also educate them on how to use QR codes, and what they can do.  This way students will be more apt to use QR codes when we place them around the libray for purely utilitarian purposes.

Up Next: QR Code Best Practices (What NOT to do!)


Johnstone, B. T.  (2011). Boopsie and librarians: connecting mobile learners and

the library.  Library Hi Tech News, 28 (4). 18-21.

doi: 10.1108/07419051111154749

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