Monday, 21 September 2009

Fancy winning an iPod Touch?

QR Code

The image on the right is a QR or 'quick response' code. Originating in Japan they were initially used by companies as tracking devices. Unlike traditional barcodes QR codes are two dimensional and are able to store both alpha and numerical content (up to 7000 numerical or 4300 alpha-numerical characters long). The information stored within these codes can be anything from urls, to telephone numbers, to addresses or even entire poems.

The QR code above converts into the Library homepage. For you to be able to read this you’ll need a mobile camera phone and reader software. Some of the later Nokia phones already have the software installed and for iPhones it’s easy to pick something up from the app store, like BeeTagg or Quickmark. You could try Googling your phone’s make and model to find out what software you need or alternatively try some of the following:

To read the code you just need to take a photograph with your phone’s camera and allow the reader software to do the rest. For those of you with Internet enabled phones you’ll be directed straight to the URL via your mobile browser. To find out more about QR codes visit the library news page and for details on connecting your phone to the university’s wireless network have a look at the instructions via CiCS.

The University Library is currently piloting the use of QR codes and we are keen to discuss your ideas on how we could be making use of this technology to support our library services. Some suggestions have included codes iPod Touchwhich link to the library catalogue and our library blogs for mobile bookmarking purposes or the inclusion of codes on catalogue records to save bibliographic details. We are also working on attaching QR codes to a sample of our paper journal runs to link users to their electronic equivalents via Find it @ Sheffield.

If you have any ideas about how we can use QR codes in the Library we'd like to hear them. By leaving a comment against this blog post you'll automatically be entered into our competition to win a brand spanking new iPod Touch.

The deadline for entries is 30 November and the competition is open to all University of Sheffield students, via the four library blogs:


  1. * QR codes on computers to scan and book a computer while in the IC so there's no need to find a free computer to log on to find one with plenty of spare time left.
    * Scan a QR code in a book to find the price on amazon etc. if the book is useful and would like to consider buying a copy
    * Scan a QR code in a book to show related books online
    * Scan a QR code in a book to find the text (whole book) online
    * QR codes on books to check when the return date is due
    * Scan QR codes on bookcase to see list of books on shelf as it is easy to miss the book you want
    * Scan QR codes on Computer rooms to link to book computer room
    * Scan updating QR code on low TV screens on floors to show number of free computers on floor

  2. I think there is a market for this type of link on the lirary website. Perhaps it could be used to create a list of books that you have used for an essay. Or even just a list of books that interests the user.

  3. QR codes could be used to create book lists, for example when writing an essay, it would make it much easier to compile a bibliography.

  4. QR codes could be used for writing essays and compiling lists of books that you have used which would make it much easier to make a bibliography. The list could also just be used as a list books someone finds interesting.

  5. I've just got back from Japan where these things are everywhere and very common - QRcode readers are pre-installed on every phone by default. You find these codes on flyers, posters, receipts, everything really where a company wants to get across their URL in a way that doesn't require a pen and paper. I guess perhaps because mobile internet is much more prominent in Japan. It's great to see them over here too though, I think they're a good idea and are much more compact than a full URL.

    In terms of application in a UK library, I think it would be a better idea to not link to websites via URLs (mobile web access is still expensive and only for the minority) but leave them with text-only content. Maybe have a tour route of the library with a QRcode at every point of interest with a description, or maybe subject-specific advice/information (eg in a Russian literature section "Russian dictionaries are not found here, but located at..."). Maybe even leave a note next to sections describing where the equivalent section is in the other library (eg "More like the Japanese section in Western Bank is found in 950 on Level 4 in the IC").

    Something like that ;)