How are libraries using QR codes?

This is the third post in a tips and tricks series about QR codes. The full series includes an introduction to QR codes, tracking QR codes, examples of how they are being used in libraries, and best practice tips.

So how are libraries using QR codes? Some of the more popular uses are listed in this post with links to examples. You may have some ideas of your own already, so please don’t be restricted to the ideas in this post.

Item records in OPAC

Adding QR codes to OPACs can help users get the information about resources onto their phone easily without having to take notes. Cutting scraps of paper to replenish supplies by OPACs used to take up so much of my time on an enquiry desk so this is a very welcome development for both staff and users! University of Bath were one of the pioneering institutions using QR codes in their library catalogue (see example):

By reading the code, you can save the Title, Author and Classmark of the book you are viewing on the catalogue to help you find it on the shelves

http://www.bath.ac.uk/library/services/qrcode.html

Senate House Library also has QR codes in their catalogue and you can read a full case study of QR codes at Senate House Library including what led them to implement it, how they did it, how it has been received, and future developments.

Linking to electronic resources from within the library

Another common use is to help promote electronic resources from with the library, ideally at the point of need. Often library resources are available in both print and electronic format and a QR code can be used to link to the electronic equivalent from with the shelves. University of Bedfordshire use posters to highlight ebook versions of texts in high demand (particularly useful if all print books are out on loan):

Ebook QR code poster

Ebook QR code poster

You could also use QR codes to link to relevant web resources for particular areas within the library, for example linking to subject guides, relevant websites or online reports near the books for that topic.

Guidance on how to use equipment or services

There’s a whole host of equipment to use in a library, much of which might need some explaining – particularly printers, copiers, laminators and binding machines. Of course signage can help, but a QR code can be used to link to a step-by-step guide online, or a video of the equipment being used.

They can also be used to direct people to get help – either by providing them with help contacts, opening an SMS message to the library contact number, or a webpage with facility to ask for help (i.e. virtual reference).

Additional information or calls to action on posters and handouts

We all know libraries love our posters, but sometimes they can get a little text heavy. A QR code could be used to link to additional information leaving the poster free for just the essential information. They can also be used to direct people to a certain website, often used for survey or to gather feedback.

They can be used in the same way on handouts, linking either to an online version of the guide (so that this can be bookmarked for future reference), additional information, or contact details of staff members.

QR codes on handouts at University of Huddersfield

QR codes on handouts at University of Huddersfield

Additional information about library space and booking study rooms

QR codes can be used to explain different areas of the library, particularly special collections or  unique areas of the library. The photograph below was taken at Staffordshire University outside a room which had recently been invested in and had lots of innovative technologies. The QR code directs you to a webpage with further information about the equipment in the room and its use (apologies for the poor quality but you get the idea!)

Explanatory QR codes at Staffordshire University

Explanatory QR codes at Staffordshire University

Some libraries are using also QR codes on the signs on study rooms to enable people to book them directly from their mobile devices.

Treasure/scavenger hunts

QR codes can be used to great effect to introduce users to the library by setting up treasure/scavenger hunts (for more information on this see our pathway to best practice guide 1). LSE Library have used these during induction period for new students.

LSE Library QR code treasure hunt

LSE Library QR code treasure hunt

What next?

Raring to go? You might want to hold fire for a moment, as there are some further considerations for using QR codes. The next post in the series tackles these and recommends best practice for implementing QR codes.

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