I was excited to read about QR codes this week – partially because we’ve just started using them at our library! I created reader’s advisory shelves on Goodreads, and then created QR codes leading to the shelves. I put the QR codes on 5×1 inch piece of paper, along with a saying like “Looking for a new mystery? Check here!”. These were then placed on the shelves near pertinent authors. (For example, a historical fiction QR code near Ken Follett and Bernard Cornwell, romance near Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele, etc.) It seems to be working, as I’ve noticed the books on the lists being checked out more often. I’m pretty pleased with it.
I really like some of the other ways libraries have been using QR codes, particularly study room reservation and linking to ebook versions of books.
I worry about people without smartphones (like myself), which is why I include URLS on the posters. As more and more people start to use smartphones, I imagine that libraries will not need to worry about this as much.
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…)
We are learning about QR codes this week and the value they have for communications and access to information. This QR code above was embedded here by saving the QR code image and including in the blog – it will take you back to our main Class Blog site. Test it out!
The QR code below is the same one but embedded in the blog by grabbing the HTML code that the QR generator gives you so you can embed in a site / blog.