Talking Tech Friday — QR Codes

Anali is on a trip this weekend and asked me to sub for her column here. I think I will write about QR Codes which you might have used or seen already without realizing that.

What is it?

A QR code for the MCLC TechTalk Blog

A QR code, created at, for the URL of MCLC TechTalk Blog

QR codes are two-dimensional bar codes that contain information that can be read by a device with the decoding software. Unlike the bar codes we are familiar with, a QR code of ½”x½” can hold 300 alphanumeric characters. QR (which stands for “quick response”) codes were invented by a Japanese company and are popular in Japan. You may find a QR code:

  • on a business card
  • in a catalog
  • in a newspaper or magazine
  • on an advertising flyer
  • on a poster
  • on a website
  • on a billboard

How does it work?

A person with a QR code reader installed on his cell phone can scan the QR code with his phone camera and the QR code reader translates the code into data or text, which then can be read on the cell phone, saved to it or sent out as a text message. If the information is a URL and the phone is web-enabled, it can automatically take the user to the web site where more information can be found. What makes it fun and useful for the consumers is that anyone can create QR codes containing contact information, SMS, RSS feed, URL, data, text, etc. using a QR code generator and read QR codes using a code reader available for free on the Internet.

Possible Library Uses

The way QR codes can link physical space and virtual information is what really fascinates me. Imagine while I take a walk in the Desert Botanical Garden on a beautiful spring day, learning about plants at the same time getting some exercise. I find a QR code on the small plant sign for a plant I am interested in. I scan in the QR code with my iPhone and pull up a web page that has all I want to know about this particular plant.

How about in the library? I find a book on the shelf or in the new book display with a QR code, scan in the code and pull up the bibliographic record which links to reviews and a list of similar books. Similar to the museum using listening devices to conduct a self-guided tour, QR codes can be used in the same manner with the library’s existing Wi-Fi and a mobile device that has a phone camera — how much more fun can a scavenger hunt be!

Sitting here, I continue coming up with things the library can do with QR codes, however, instead of my having all the fun, why don’t you share your ideas by commenting on this blog post?


A QR code billboard in Japan. Scan and read all about it with your web-enabled mobile device.

A QR code billboard in Japan. Scan and read all about it with your web-enabled mobile device.


~ by Roseline on April 18, 2009.

One Response to “Talking Tech Friday — QR Codes”

  1. QR Codes can be used for literally everything there is on earth! LOL! Some people go as far as to create their own creative little (very pretty) QR Codes with sites like and then tattoo it on their bodies, knit a scarf or print it out on their business cards.

    QR Code tech is really intriguing!

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