Fun with QR codes

I know that lots of librarians–and libraries–have jumped on board with QR codes, and so to them this post may be old hat.

I am not one of those librarians.  To me QR codes are still shiny and new.

What are they?
QR stands for Quick Response. I knew QR codes had originated in Japan–what I hadn’t realized was that they’ve been around since the 1990s, according to the manufacturer.    Using them requires a smartphone [edit: or a mobile phone with a camera] and a QR code-scanning app.  When you scan the QR code, it can send you text or push you  to a predetermined URL.   QR codes can be either in print or online.

Library uses
So how does this help libraries, you may well wonder.  Ideas can include using QR codes on promotional posters, maps and book shelves.  Beyond that, QR codes can also be put on instructional handouts–to offer students links to additional resources or to add your contact information to their phones.

Google’s QR code creator, Goo.gl
On Wednesday morning,  one of my colleagues  showed us how to create a QR code from a URL using Google’s QR code tool Goo.gl.  Here’s a quick primer:

  • Copy the desired URL from the web page.
  • Type Goo.gl into Google
  • Paste the URL into the box and click on “Shorten.”
  • Copy and paste your new code into the URL box and add “.qr” (minus the quotation marks) at the end.  Click on Enter. 

Voila! You have a QR code.

Generating your own QR code:
There are 2 ways (that I know of) to generate your own QR code.

  • Use  Goo.gl  to shorten a URL to a website and add “.qr” to the end of it.
  • Use a service such as  Kaywa QR code generator to generate a  QR code for SMS, text, a phone number or a URL.  I’ve tried several services in attempts to make a QR code  for text information, and so far this is the only one that works for me. 

The picture above is a screen shot from my iPod Touch.  After I scan the QR code I’ve just generated, Kaywa gives me the option to text the information (in this case, the name & URL of this blog).

I don’t think QR codes are going to overtake most libraries anytime soon, but in the meantime they’re certainly fun to play with!

Related resources:

An iLibrarian?

I was recently gifted with an iPod Touch(thanks, Mom!).
Though I’m no longer in the honeymoon period (a.k.a., “You’ll get a turn when you pry it out of my cold,dead hands!”) I still use it  frequently.

Some of the apps I use the most  are Pandora, the NPR and NYT apps, Google mobile, Dragon dictation and Evernote.

What does this have to do with libraries?

Well–
1.  I GET IT–SORT OF. I no longer think, “Poor thing!” when I  see a  student in the library who is unable to look up from his or device. It’s still annoying, but now I can sympathize.

2. MOBILE, SCHMOBILE. Before I became “mobile-enhanced”, I’d read tweets and blog posts bursting with televangelical fervor about the huge effect mobile devices are having on libraries and think, ” Meh.”  Sure, mobile services are a big deal generally but after all, many of our students don’t have a laptop or desktop, let alone a smartphone. I also resented the (perhaps subconscious) implication that librarians without smart phones and/or libraries without mobile apps would somehow be left behind to molder in the scrap heap–along with wooden card catalog holders and other relics of the pre-digital era.
3.“AND YOU’RE TELLING ME THIS BECAUSE…?” I used to  see Foursquare updates in my Twittercfeed and roll my eyes to high heaven: “So and so is the mayor of a Starbucks in Boisie….big flipping’ deal!”. Of course, I’m now on Foursquare, though I’ve yet to get the hang of it–I’ve accidentally created a duplicate venue for our library the first time I tried to check in, for example. ;0)  And honestly, I don’t know that I see lots of value for libraries in Foursquare–yet.  But, I’m  less “judge-y” about it.

4. THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT.  BiT (Before iPod Touch), I’d change the channel every time an iPhone commercial came on, to avoid seeing all of the cool apps I couldn’t access, like the one for reading MRIs (“I  have  an MRI–I could totally use that!”). Now I’ve sent information on relevant subject apps to a Nursing instructor and an Agriculture instructor, respectively, and I love finding new ones!

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