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QR Codes: What Are They and Why Should You Care?

DOI: 10.4148/culs.v1i0.1355

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QR (quick response) codes are two dimensional images that when scanned by a smart phone's camera, prompt the smart phone to open a web-page or display an image, video, or text. QR codes are, therefore, essentially pictographic hyperlinks that can be embedded in the physical environment. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way libraries deliver instruction, connect patrons to information about library materials, and market their services. Although use of QR codes has not yet become prominent in Kansas communities, there are several reasons to believe that it soon will be. These reasons include burgeoning popularity of QR codes on the coasts, rapid increases in smart phone use in our communities, and expected enhancements in cellular data capacity in much of Kansas. By implementing QR codes now, academic libraries in Kansas can help expedite the adoption of this exciting technology and can concomitantly enhance their reputations as user-centered, innovative, sites for discovery and exploration. In this paper I describe how individuals with smart phones can download free QR code reading applications and use their phone’s camera to read the code; show several examples of creative ways libraries and other organizations are using QR codes to provide rich, point-of-need information to patrons, customers, and prospective user; describe in detail the process of creating QR codes and distributing them throughout physical and online environments; and highlight some of the recent literature discussing the relevance of QR codes for libraries and for education in general.


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