February 2011

Spotlight On…   QR Codes

QR code QR code

If you look closely, what appears to be an abstract black and white symbol is beginning to show up more and more frequently in magazines, on package labels, movie posters, even on real estate signs. What is this mysterious symbol? It’s a QR code.

QR or “Quick Response” codes are two-dimensional barcodes that carry significantly more information than a typical horizontal barcode. Scanning a QR Code with your smartphone allows you to instantly pull information such as images, websites, or text into your device. Originally developed in 1994 to assist with inventory systems, QR codes are now being used to promote products, events, and services to the smartphone crowd. QR codes are extremely popular in Japan but have only recently been embraced by marketers in the U.S.

We’ve begun to experiment with QR codes in a variety of ways throughout the Library. We hope you’ll take a few minutes to scan them with your phone and let us know what you think!

QR Code Readers

QR code examples on Flickr

It only takes a minute to download and install a QR code reader on your smartphone. There are some slight differences between them so it might take a little experimenting to find a reader you like. Here a few well-known ones:

After you've installed the reader on your smartphone, you're ready to go. The next time you see a QR code, pull out your phone, scan it, and see what happens!

QR code generators

Interested in creating your own QR codes? It's easy! There are plenty of free generators available online. Again, you'll probably want to experiment with a few different ones but they all essentially work the same way: enter your data (URL, contact info, etc.) and the generator produces the code, which can be printed or used electronically. Here are a few to get you started:

Learn more about QR codes...