QR Codes To Extend Library's Reach In Contra Costa, CA
Contra Costa County Library is betting two-dimensional hyperlinking barcodes will be the the next wave in connecting mobile-savvy patrons to library services
Josh Hadro -- Library Journal, 01/14/2010
- $60,000 BALIS grant will fund year-long project
- QR codes will link patrons to read-alike materials, and events information
- Will dovetail with Library-a-Go-Go automated materials vending sites
Are QR codes—two-dimensional hyperlinking barcodes—the next wave in connecting mobile-savvy patrons to library services? Contra Costa County Library (CCCL), CA, is betting yes, as it embarks on a yearlong $60,000 Bay Area Library and Information System (BALIS)–funded QR code project.
The library will reach out to the community by attaching these increasingly popular symbols to library-related materials, as well as placing them in high-traffic areas, perhaps in partnership with local community centers and businesses. The labels themselves contain embedded information that can be decoded by a QR code reader on a mobile device.
This software then links users directly from the black-and-white images to a web site via a decoded URL, or reveals some other embedded information like a call number or small snippets of text.
QR code generators and the software necessary to decode the labels are by no means ubiquitous in the United States, though they've been popular in gadget-saturated countries like Japan for some time. As a result, an educational campaign will be required to inform patrons about these crossword puzzle-looking images.
Still, “the public is becoming more savvy about these things,” Cathy Sanford, Contra Costa deputy county librarian, told LJ. She also pointed to the recent rollout by Google to place QR codes in nearly 200,000 local businesses across the country, as well as pioneering library QR code service pilot projects such as the one from the Sacramento Public Library, CA, that sends users to text message chat info when they scan a code on the library's blog.
Linking to RA and more
Once the CCCL project is in full swing, QR codes will be embedded across the range of services the library offers. Sanford said that popular collections will have barcodes that link directly to readers' advisory materials online, including read-alikes patrons are encouraged to check out. The library will also embed QR barcodes in its promotional and marketing materials, linking patrons directly to pages with location information, schedules, and related events.
Finally, QR codes will be attached to all materials served up by another of CCCL's partially BALIS-funded technology innovations: its Library-a-Go-Go automated materials vending system. QR codes at these unstaffed locations will link patrons to the library's text message (SMS) and chat reference services, as well as any other services available remotely. “It's all designed for people on the go,” Sanford said, adding that the library's goal is to make its services relevant to the community when and where they're needed, not just within the confines of local branches.