Services & Policies - Spring 2011

QR Codes @ the Library

You may have seen some crazy looking square barcodes appearing on advertisements, in magazines, and on some websites lately. These are QR codes, or Quick Response code, with data embedded for users. Anyone with a smart phone or QR reader capable phone can take a picture of the code and it will deliver instant data, like a website, phone number or plain text. In library lingo, they're providing access to additional resources.
QR codes are really easy to generate on your own and can be used to provide more information for an event, a website or contact information. You can do a Google search for "QR code generator" and find a number of easy to use programs. Kaywa ( seems to be among the more popular. You can choose the size (small, medium or large) and the content type (URL, phone number, etc.) and then generate your own code. The library uses it to create a code that links directly to the Weinberg's Facebook page. Now our students, faculty and staff can "like" us on the go!
The library is also using them to share information about our new Library Research Prize by including one on our table-tent ads that have been placed in the Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence and other places on campus. We are currently exploring other options to use them in sharing resources from our library catalog, other social networks, library events and exhibits. They will also be useful in promoting our "text a librarian" reference service and to share all of our contact information.
The Library Success Wiki has a page dedicated to QR codes and what libraries are doing with them. There are some really exciting projects happening with the codes, including San Diego State University's library where they are embedding them in the library's online catalog. Patrons can scan the code on their computer screen and receive call number and location information.
College & Research Libraries News featured a QR code on the cover of its November issue and the accompanying article defined the codes and examined how libraries are using them. This illustrates the importance of QR and barcode technology in uniting the real world with the online world, and how the library can be incorporated into that as well.
As smart phones and internet-capable cell phones become more ubiquitous, so too will QR codes. Because of the simplicity in creating customized codes, the possibilities for their use are boundless. It will be fun and exciting to see how libraries, universities and communities use them to share information.

Sheli McHugh