For many of our readers, libraries have always meant a cool respite from the clamor of the outside world. Whether in a school environment or a public venue, libraries have represented solace, escape and information to millions of Americans for over a century.
But libraries and librarians have not become stuck in the past. The increasingly diverse evolution of technology has opened doors to a variety of users, at the same time making the librarian's work a little easier.
The newest technology is tied directly to the proliferation of smart phones. Many libraries across the country have adopted the Quick Response (QR) Code to harness, assimilate and disperse information to patrons and readers. For example, scanning QR Codes within a library may help the user find a specific book, get the call number, learn where the book is located within the library, and whether it is available. Other uses of QR codes include ways to copy scanned content for later use, the ability to email the information to someone else, and the ability to save the content.
This article highlights applications of QR codes in libraries across America, and is provided courtesy of Public Libraries Online.
Topeka and Shawnee County (Kansas) Public Library used QR Codes to create interest in The Maltese Falcon. The library created a community-wide scavenger hunt, that had to be solved via QR Codes. TSCPL partnered with several area businesses so that a QR code at each business gave participants clues to the next site. In some locations, the QR code led to a web page with questions about The Maltese Falcon. Participants answered the question (via a web-based form) and received the name and directions to the next stop in the game. Three hundred twenty-three people participated partially in the hunt. The library learned that people in Topeka knew what QR Codes are and how to use them, and it introduced the concept to businesses and media that were not aware of this technology.
Other libraries are equally creative:
- Lafayette College Library in Easton, Pennsylvania, used QR Codes in a game format to teach participants about the library.
- Syracuse University Library Learning Commons created bookmarks for their patrons that listed ways to contact a librarian for help. At the bottom of the bookmark is a QR Code that, when scanned, takes the user to the Research Assistance page on their website.
- Contra Costa County (California) Library partnered with Tri Delta Transit to provide instant access to free audiobooks and library services on the bus. Those with library cards and a smart phone riding the bus can choose from over 550 audiobook titles to wirelessly download directly to their cell phone and immediately listen to as they continue on their journey.
- Half Hollow Hills Community Library in New York is using QR Codes posted on the ends of their bookshelves that point to subject guides related to the topics of the books on those shelves.
- Lawrence University Seeley G. Mudd Library created a QR code information page to help patrons understand QR codes. It directs them to a virtual tour, electronic music resources, a mobile web site, and can even launch text messages to the interlibrary loan office, and more.
- Sacramento Public Library offers a QR code to patrons that will load the library's text message reference service info into the patron's phone. The code can be found on the Text 4 Answers page of the library website and the library's blog.
- University of Huddersfield Library is using QR Codes for linking to contact information, videos, text messaging reference service, and in the catalog records, providing basic info about items.
- Southwest Iowa Library Service Area (SWILSA) has begun a "shared" list of readalikes for various popular authors. A sheet of Codes can be printed on label stickersand then attached to shelves holding books by those authors.
- Providence College Library developed an introductory QR subject guide as a complement to their QR Code initiative.
- Tompkins County Public Library launched a QR Code campaign to advertise its downloadable eBook service, themed booklists and its social networking sites.
QR Codes are permeating the academic, cultural and consumer experience, and libraries are definitely in the mix, responding to demographic changes and reader preferences. Convenience, efficiency and just plain fun are now part of the library experience, with QR Codes as the conduit to information and entertainment.
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