I have to be honest, I have not personally had great experiences with QR codes. I’ve had an iPhone for a few years now, and I do have a QR code reader. I usually feel that the dependence on network connectivity (3G or wi-fi), which can be really inconsistent, can make this a frustrating experience when QR destinations take a long time to load.
The other bad experience with QR codes is that I have rarely encountered one that really saved time over a process that is just as easy to do by typing a shortened or vanity URL into my browser in most cases. If it isn’t really improving the process it is creating, it is less compelling. For example, the most I ever used QR codes was at New York Public Library’s Find the Future “Write All Night” Centennial event this past May. The idea was that a game app on our smartphones would direct us to artifacts throughout the library. At the artifact, we would scan a QR code that gave us a writing task to help collectively complete 100 hundred stories overnight. However, throughout the night, the smart phone app had some glitches and some artifacts were mislabeled or omitted accidentally. At this point, we realized that by clicking a button under listed artifacts on the game’s website, we could “activate” the artifacts for the game the same as if we had walked to the artifact and scanned the QR code. As the night wore on, the motivation wasn’t compelling, so many people just skipped the QR step.
I have to believe, though, that it doesn’t have to be this way! To try to improve over my own experiences, my ideas for using QR codes in the school library assume:
- the network connectivity is stable and fast for all smart phone users (thus minimizing frustration and fulfilling that “time-saving” requirement)
- All of the library users have access to a smart phone with a QR reader (alternatively, destination URLs should also be listed below the QR code image so users without smartphones can access them by writing down the URL and navigating to it on a library computer).
Advisory – Book trailers throughout the stacks: This idea evolves from something my well-loved local bookstore does. The bookstore has staff (and customer!) recommendations that are indicated by index cards that are attached to the shelf below the titles recommended
E-book links on the physical shelves: To follow along with the electronic-content-in-the-physical-stacks idea, how about QR codes right underneath a physical book that indicates an e-book version is available of that title? The QR code could link directly to the place in the catalog the e-book can be checked out, and the e-book can go straight onto a student’s reading app on their smart phone.
Project display enhancement: Imagine that students work for a month on dioramas, posters, or artwork related to a research project. They then need to present this product to their class and teacher at the culmination. Many times, the library is a great place to display this work for parent nights, end of the year celebrations, or during related themed months. How about letting students give context to their projects for passersby that check out the display? Each project on display could have a related QR code that could lead to a blog with a write-up about the students’ research or a video or audio recording of their oral presentation. It could be like having those guided tours at a museum right in your own library!
Check out this tutorial: How to create QR Codes in 3 Easy Steps from The Daring Librarian (h/t Erin Carey)
What are your experiences with QR codes? Do you have any ideas for how to use these in your workplace? Please share in the comments!