Monday, 21 September 2009

Fancy winning an iPod Touch?

QR Code

The image on the right is a QR or 'quick response' code. Originating in Japan they were initially used by companies as tracking devices. Unlike traditional barcodes QR codes are two dimensional and are able to store both alpha and numerical content (up to 7000 numerical or 4300 alpha-numerical characters long). The information stored within these codes can be anything from urls, to telephone numbers, to addresses or even entire poems.

The QR code above converts into the Library homepage. For you to be able to read this you’ll need a mobile camera phone and reader software. Some of the later Nokia phones already have the software installed and for iPhones it’s easy to pick something up from the app store, like BeeTagg or Quickmark. You could try Googling your phone’s make and model to find out what software you need or alternatively try some of the following:

To read the code you just need to take a photograph with your phone’s camera and allow the reader software to do the rest. For those of you with Internet enabled phones you’ll be directed straight to the URL via your mobile browser. To find out more about QR codes visit the library news page and for details on connecting your phone to the university’s wireless network have a look at the instructions via CiCS.

The University Library is currently piloting the use of QR codes and we are keen to discuss your ideas on how we could be making use of this technology to support our library services. Some suggestions have included codes iPod Touchwhich link to the library catalogue and our library blogs for mobile bookmarking purposes or the inclusion of codes on catalogue records to save bibliographic details. We are also working on attaching QR codes to a sample of our paper journal runs to link users to their electronic equivalents via Find it @ Sheffield.

If you have any ideas about how we can use QR codes in the Library we'd like to hear them. By leaving a comment against this blog post you'll automatically be entered into our competition to win a brand spanking new iPod Touch.

The deadline for entries is 30 November and the competition is open to all University of Sheffield students, via the four library blogs:


  1. QR codes could be included on any printed material that the library publishes, eg. help sheets, library handbooks, etc. Embedded in the QR code could be an electronic version of the text found on the guide. This text could then be manipulated and tailored to users' desires. For example, you could make the text bigger for the visually impaired or translate into a different language for international students. (without the need to reproduce multitudes of printed handouts.)

  2. A lot of time is spent in the libraries trying to collate a wide range of materials relevant to a particular research topic. To improve this process QR Codes could be inserted into the front covers of certain books and be embedded with information which could guide the user to other relevant books or materials, for example, more from this author or other books on this topic in the library. For example, in the front cover of a Consumer Law textbook could be a QR code advising you of other books or journals (in paper form or online) relating to Consumer Law across the library.