Sunday, 28 September 2008

QR Codes and Libraries

One other point of interest at last Friday's L2 Unconference was around library services and mobile platforms. With the take up of Blackberries, iPhones, and other portable devices; together with the expectations of digital natives to access information anywhere and at any time, this is an issue libraries can not afford to ignore. This is also a big area to cover, so lets focus on one small part of the equation - QR Codes.

QR Codes are two-dimensional bar codes that were originally created by Denso-Wave in Japan. The “QR” is stands for 'Quick Response', and they operate in a similar way to traditional bar codes, but QR codes allow for more customisation.

QR Codes lets people instantly pull your stuff onto their mobile platforms without the need to type in URLs or Google you.

But why would you want to do that? Well, we will get to that in a minute.

I had being looking at QR codes for some time, but I got really excited when I stumbled across MoFuse. In a couple of minutes I was able to add a QR code to this blog. (Do you see my QR code on the top right hand side of this blog?) You can read about how easy this is to do at Mobilise your blog. As you have probably noticed, I use this blog as a bit of a sandpit to test Web 2.0 applications. What I love about Mofuse is that is is very easy to use, its free, and it comes with great statistics.

In America, the Brooklyn Public Library has been experimenting with QR codes. They use the codes to identity each of their branches. They add the library branch QR code to flyers and posters. This allows patrons to grab the library branch QR code and quickly add it to their mobile phone. Then, using the code, the patron can then get the latest news about what is going on in their local library via their mobile phone.

In Australia, the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, has started playing around with QR codes in their campaign for Sydney Design 08.

Other options could be:

• To create QR codes for your patron's special interest. How good would it be to allow patrons to get web based information on their phone about the things that interest them. You could set up a QR code for different sections of your collection. These could even be posted on the end of your shelves, or against your Dewey numbers. Patrons can then choose if they want to be told about the latest cook books or crime fiction in the library.
• In the future every book and or author could have their own QR Code. Nate Hill from Brooklyn Public Library suggests that QR Codes linked to the Open Library's "goal to give every book its own web page, could prove useful in offering online information about any given book."
• Libraries could use a QR Code as a receipt for library events. The QR Code could also automatically add the date, time, and location to the patron's phone.
• QR codes linked to RFID could mean that patron's could then check out items using their phones. The library would not need to use special RFID readers. Using the QR code on a book, CD, or whatever; the client could also use the QR code to renew the item with their phone without having to log onto your web site.

If you want to learn more about QR codes, ReadWriteWeb (one of my favourite sites) has just done an excellent series of posts on QR Codes:

• Part 1 Will Barcodes Bridge The Gap Between Reality And The Net?,
• Part 2 Scanning Your Web Printouts, and
• Part 3 Barcode Scanning In The Real World.

The possibilities are endless.

1 comment:

harps the haiku librarian said...

I've just added a QR Code to the Blogalogue of the Frankston Library Service:

And another to my personal blog, season creep:

This certainly has ptential.

Thanks for the tip.