Brown Library on the front line of QR Code technology

Posted September 26, 2011

ACU's Brown Library is establishing a name for itself as a leader in the innovative use of QR code technology, and educators nationwide are taking notice.

"We've been using QR codes for about three years now, which is longer than many other campuses and libraries," says Laura Baker, ACU's digital initiatives librarian. "We've had a chance to explore their potential and how they can help people use the library more conveniently."

QR (short for "quick response") codes consist of small black-and-white squares arranged in a seemingly random pattern, similar to bar codes. When scanned with a smartphone, they instantly connect users to information without additional typing. Baker says the library began utilizing the tool in 2008 in conjunction with ACU's First-Year Program and various freshman seminar courses. Students quickly discovered how convenient the codes could be, and the library was encouraged to continue its project.

When ACU began utilizing QR codes campus-wide in April 2011, the library was at the forefront of the new project.  "We rolled out another set of QR access points, including a link to mobile-friendly library hours, easy access to e-journals, quick library class evaluations, and a way to get library assistance from stacks in more remote parts of our building," says Baker. Codes that automatically search the library catalog for most frequently searched topics and materials are especially popular.

The library's experience with the new technology is paying off as other educators seek advice. Library staff members have spoken and published in national venues on the use of QR codes and were recently sought out by a group of library administrators in Australia, which has an international reputation for its strong research literacy emphasis.

"It's not just about novelty and marketing promotions; there is a deep pedagogical use for mobile tags," adds Baker. "Libraries are about connecting the physical source, such as a book, with the digital source, like electronic news, audio or video. QR codes are a great tool to help us do that. We’re pleased to share what we’ve learned about this technology and to hear what others are doing, too."

To see photos and learn more about the Brown Library's use of QR codes, visit here.