Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Crowdsourced: Report on QR code use in libraries

At the intersection of journalism and library service, I used crowdsourcing to to complete my report on QR codes in libraries for my Technology in the Workplace class:

QR code linking to Facebook page: Yarn Bombing @ Your Library
This QR code directs viewers
to Yarn Bombing @ Your Library
A QR code is “essentially an enhanced version of the average barcode” ( It stores information in two directions and, for this reason, a QR code is considered a “matrix type” or 2D” code.

According to, a QR code can hold “roughly 350 times the amount of information that could be stored on a typical one-dimensional barcode.”

The QR code was invented by the Denso Wave company in 1994 to track the vehicle manufacturing process. The first QR code scanner and reader applications were released for a variety of smartphone platforms in the United States in 2010 (

QR codes contain a URL that, when scanned, sends the user’s smartphone browser to a website (Harris). “Additional data such as contact information or even an email message can also be embedded in a QR code.”

(This paper’s author incorporates QR codes on her resume and list of references; the QR code on her resume directs the viewer to her social portal at The QR code on her list of references launches the user’s default email application with “Subject: Job interview” and her email address as recipient automatically filled in.)

QR codes add an interactive, dynamic quality to otherwise static media. In her prior position as a journalist, this paper’s author produced a weekly print entertainment calendar in a northern California newspaper. It included a QR code linking to the section’s online counterpart, where viewers could access an expanded version of the entertainment calendar. I use free, web-based applications to generate QR codes.

“Libraries can use QR codes to deliver a higher level of support and interactivity to patrons” (Harris). Gwyneth Anne Bronwyne Jones, blogging as “The Daring Librarian,” added a “QR code twist” to a scavenger hunt created by Joyce Valenza.

At Jackson County Library Services, the administrator of its Facebook page indicated, “We have QR codes on every branch entry that link to the hours of that branch, plus several surrounding branches. We also have QR codes on our digital sign in Medford that links to free classic downloadable books with no borrowing limits.”

A question posed April 10 during the weekly Twitter-based #libchat among library professionals yielded multiple responses.

QR codes can be created free-of-charge using web-based applications. This researcher has used QR Droid to generate a number of codes. VisuaLead allows the user to incorporate a logo into the finished QR code.

Pro tip: Jones recommends running the URL through a shortener like first, explaining, “The more data you have in your code the more complex the 2D barcode.”

Works Cited:

  • Harris, Christopher. “QR Codes in the Library.” School Library Journal 56.10 (2010): 12. MAS Ultra—Public Library Edition. Lake County Library. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.
  • “The History of QR Codes.” Web: 8 April 2013.
  • Jones, Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne. “QR Code Quest: A Library Scavenger Hunt.” The Daring Librarian. March 2011. Web. 8 April 2013.

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