WHAT’S NEW IN LIBRARIES
QR codes in the library
Bruce E. Massis
Columbus State Community College Educational Resources Center, Columbus,
Purpose – The purpose of this column is to examine the use of quick response (QR) codes in libraries
and the variety of uses suggest speciﬁc uses of this motivating technology for libraries to enhance
their own offerings to users with greater potential and possibilities.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper takes the form of a literature review and commentary
on this topic that has been addressed by colleague institutions.
Findings – QR codes are being used in libraries in numerous and creative ways.
Originality/value – The value in addressing this issue is to examine the methods by which libraries
are using these codes to address information enhancements regarding available services.
Keywords Libraries, QR codes, Signs, Codes, Technology
Paper type Viewpoint
A QR code is alternate terminology for a “Quick Response” or “2D” barcode that can be
read by downloadable smart phone readers with camera-scanning capabilities. These
codes can be found in magazines, on web sites, embedded in a page of text, a handout or
ﬂyer, a bookmark, even on video information screens in one’s local shopping mall. The
square-shaped code pictures a black pattern against a white background. When the code
is scanned by a camera that has been loaded with the appropriate scanning software, the
search will reveal a link that, when opened, can redirect a user to a web site embedded
into the code containing expanded or additional information on the product or service an
organization seeks to advance. The use of the QR Code, once scanned, delivers a user to a
particular URL, therefore expanding not only the code’s meaning, but also presents itself
as a representation of the service (in this case the URL’s further information) hidden
within. Libraries in larger numbers have joined other organizations in employing these
codes in a variety of ways. Libraries have joined other organizations and retailers in
employing these codes in a variety of ways. An examination of this technology-mediated
communication method will include several examples of the manner by which libraries
are using these codes based on current practice.
2. Downloading and using the scanning device
Library Journal columnist Michael Kelley has written, “As QR Codes become more
prominent in daily life, librarians are seeking the best way to incorporate this simple
and free technology into their operations” (Kelley, 2010). The practical aspect of the QR
code scanning software in budget-conscious times is that the application can be
downloaded free to one’s smart phone. One needs only to search the web using the
search term such as “QR Code Generator” and numerous options of downloadable
scanners open up to the potential user.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
New Library World
Vol. 112 No. 9/10, 2011
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited