UoL Library Blog

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QR Codes Talk

Posted by sarahw9 on 28 January, 2009

This Monday myself and Selina attended a QR code meeting to discuss the JISC project with Andy Ramsden from Bath.  There was a general introduction to QR codes which filled in some gaps in my knowledge.  The main advantage to QR codes is that on mobile devices they get over the need to type URLs.  QR codes  not only link to websites, but also can be used to send prewritten SMS to phones, transfer phone numbers, and provide further text.  They are designed to cope with a high level of error, hence are suitable for outdoor use. 

I was also surprised at the relatively high level of student awareness of QR codes; about 13% have heard of them, although only 2% have actually used one.  Whilst that may not sound like much, given the potential growth in mobile devices for accessing the web, and what we were assured by our own in house IT experts is the relative robustness of QR codes in comparison to other types of code, then seem to be worth watching. 

The bulk of the session was a discussion of how we could be using QR codes – where might they actually be of benefit in the real world now?  Here are the main ideas that stood out to me in a library context:

  • Special collections:  to a podcast/vodcast, further information, interactive task or questionnaire. 
  • Library Induction: a treasure trail of where to find resources.  An audio tour. 
  • Departmental slide collections: instructions or support materials.
  • Ejournals: from the physical location of a journal a link to the electronic version. 
  • QR code linking to availability of wireless networks around the campus.
  • Training sesssions: could link to feedback or interactive elements (not unlike voting software).
  • Peer support: relating to information literacy training or general teaching across the University.  Students can create a QR code on the fly that links them to their support /discussion group. 

One memorable usage has been where they have been used on railway platforms to link to timetables in Japan. 

There was brief discussion of the barriers, such as equity and sceptical management cultures.  There seemed to be general agreement that the marketing and admin take up would be likely to lead rather than using them in educational contexts. 

Alan Cann emphasised that the task the QR codes takes you to should be viable and usable on a mobile.   Also there are issues around the potential for phishing. When a QR code is in a physical location out in the world, what is to stop someone sticking their own QR code on top that takes you to a fake site?

I’ll be interested to see what comes next from this project.  Free iPhones for library staff (for research purposes to support the digital library strategy of course)?

13 Responses to “QR Codes Talk”

  1. ajcann said

    Are we allowed to talk about this on Friday? 😉

  2. sarahw9 said

    Please do! 🙂

  3. jobadge said

    Thanks for the write up Sarah 🙂

  4. Ditto, cheers Sarah. So how flash a phone do you need for these to work? I know mine certainly doesn’t and since I doubt a free contract phone will be doing it anytime soon, there’s a risk if we use QR codes that we’ll be disenfranchising a certain proportion of the population.

    Though if we use them in addition to other things, then de nada!

  5. I should add – where does one gank the software to make one’s own QR codes?

  6. sarahw9 said

    The answer is yes not yet, but my guess is in five years time its likely ‘alot’ of people will have mobiles with internet access.

    Below were mentioned by Andy but there are alot more out there I’m told: to generate. for code reader to phone.

    let me know how its goes.

  7. Oooh, that’s neat. I like that – nice and simple to generate.

    Now I expect you and Alan to turn up with QR code T-shirts on Friday…

  8. Ian Foster said


    You’ll find everything you need to know about QR codes along with lots of resources at

    Ian – Admin

  9. Alex said

    If you are interested in a new innovation using QR Codes …

    We have developed a complete Retailer portal site where every product featured on the website has a QR Code automatically generated which drives traffic to our mobile site.

    Currently available in Australia, we are looking to rollout globally over the next two years

    I believe that the opportunity for campuses and students to utilise QR codes is limitless, providing a quick, educational and inexpensive rollout

    If you have any questions or feedback to this post, I would be very interested in receiving them

    Alex John


    About Store Specials
    Store Specials is an Australian based media and software development company founded in 2007.
    Specialising in driving retail traffic and sales to exclusively bricks and mortar retailers, storespecials is the search engine for retailers

  10. […] what they can do and what level of awareness there is about them amongst the student population (Sarah made some good notes on this) and then we split into smaller groups and came up with some suggested uses.  Andy has these […]

  11. […] Mobile QR Codes and Library Uses…02.18.09 18 02 2009 This is food for thought from a recent post on the University of Leicester Library blog discussing the potential uses of QR Code for libraries entitled QR Codes Talk : […]

  12. […] on QR Codes and Libraries…03.01.09 1 03 2009 A post titled QR Codes Talk  from the University of Leicester Library staff blog  is excerpted below […]

  13. […] Das Thema in anderen Stellen: Mobile QR Codes and Library Uses…02.18.09 Library Instruction on Your Phone? You Bet! QR Codes Talk […]

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