QR Codes (with CI and RI)

I spoke with a marketing intern yesterday, who has both a job and an internship creating digital media online and promoting it all with social media. We talked among other things, about video marketing and his social media preferences. He shared his thoughts on the usage of Google Analytical; as a former accounting professional with a love for anything mathematical, I found it to be a great conversation. But then he reached further when he shifted focus to include the consideration of both CI (consumer influence) and RI (return on investment) when using social media.
Then I asked about QR codes. We discussed some of the benefits, but that with an instant world the code had to work flawlessly when activated. We talked about the benefits in a large environment like museums, galleries and academic libraries to use QR codes like exhibits with station numbers: a QR code to be linked to audio providing new information such as a map and placing it all in context.
For our small, rural libraries with a single room – this would not be a necessity. For what other purpose could we use them? Since all public and school libraries in our region offer free Wi-Fi even devices such as iPods and iPads could access the Internet without needing cell phone service. This could be helpful as there are still many “dead zones.”
Having done promotional and marketing for years in a high school setting, the key with our students is to mix it up. Before spring break, I asked a random sampling of our students (about 10%). None said they were interested in having me place QR codes on books so that they could hear a booktalk or watch a book trailer. They either pick up the book and decide or not. They like when I talk to them about it; they prefer direct knowledge from my having read the book. So clearly, constant use of QR codes for Top 100 books would never really work. CI would be limited (non-existent) and the RI a waste of time, which is precious in a one-person library so as not to be wasted.
With the intern I offered my thoughts and ideas about more limited and random usage:

  • Special events – posters would be printed with QR codes and accessible throughout their communities and not just in the school (provides clues to the challenges or codes needed such as Amazing Race, Scavenger Hunt, etc)
  • Skype visit with an author – link a QR code to the author’s page, which usually offers so much.
  • Banned Book Week – I had already planned to cover books with striped paper (like prison garb) and use a bar code. Instead, I could include a QR code that would link to a special web page designed to share more about the when, where and why the book was banned. Still undecided if I should reveal the title or not (my students loved the Blind Date with a Book this past Valentine’s Day)
  • Blind Date with a Book (see banned book week, similar idea covered with heart wrapping paper and a QR code that provides a Dating Profile that might further inspire a reader to check out the book)

These types of QR code usage, combined with other varying marketing over the course of the school year appear to be worth the time to try. Only with a limited usage within the school, a few times a year – I can get administrative approval to loosen the “no cell phones in school” rule and make the library (during those weeks only!) a Phone Zone. That alone will build credibility and CI, more than any other effort I create. Wish me luck! (feel free to add to the ideas list…)


4 thoughts on “QR Codes (with CI and RI)

  1. kallierees

    The first time I had ever scanned a QR code was when Christy posted one in the lesson. Since then I have noticed them more and more and have been keeping a running assessment in my head of whether I think the noticed organization is using them effectively. In most cases I say to myself, “Why would I bother?” I think your ideas for using them regarding the banned books and blind date books is actually a good use for QR codes. Of course the fun of the blind date book is that you have NO IDEA what it’s about, so not sure about that, but the banned book one could be very educational in terms of censorship. For example, did you know that there was an attempt to ban one of Shel Silverstein’s poetry collections (can’t remember which one) because of the poem How Not to Dry the Dishes:

    How Not To Have To Dry the Dishes
    By Shel Silverstein

    If you have to dry the dishes
    (Such an awful, boring chore)
    If you have to dry the dishes
    (‘Stead of going to the store)
    If you have to dry the dishes
    And you drop one on the floor—
    Maybe they won’t let you
    Dry the dishes anymore.

    The reason: This poem will encourage children to behave badly and not do their chores.

    Censorship stories run the gamut – and using QR codes to tell the stories could be very educational. That would be a pretty good ROI.

  2. Barnaby Hughes

    My experience is similar to Kallie’s. I had known about QR codes for some time. A few months ago, I downloaded a QR code reader, but hadn’t had an occasion to use it until Christy posted a code on the blog. I successfully scanned it and accessed the blog on my phone. That was a proud moment. I don’t know why there aren’t more QR codes around. For example, I wish there were QR codes on wine labels so that I could find out more about the bottle I’m drinking. That would be really convenient.

  3. Deborah Cooper

    Hi Lori,
    Thanks for such an insightful post, especially concerning CI and RI.

    One strong take-away confirms something I have always suspected about social media tools. While a tool may be popular or gain a lot of attention in the field, sometimes the actual usefulness of the tool completely passes by the intended audience. In your example, the teens were just not that excited about QR codes! Yet, I do see them all the time at our local public library–however, I’ve never seen a patron scan one of them. I am not sure what this means other than we have some work to do in promoting the direct practical application of these tools. It’s great to explain them and say “it’s cool” but unless the potential user can relate it to a definite need in their lives, that tool will just not get used. However, I think the other ideas you mentioned such as using them for special events, etc., demonstrate the flexibility and high potential for QR codes. Would love to see some of these in practice!


  4. Lori

    Thanks, all…I just received a message board suggestion about using QR codes to “correct” inconsistencies or inaccuracies such as the case with the Lance Armstrong autobiographies! Not a bad idea…keep the book, add the update link.


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