Monthly Archives: June 2012

QRs and collection marketing…. retail style

Recently, while researching QR technology, I came across a piece that discussed its use in retail.  The author used the video below that shows how a South Korean retail store, Tesco, have adapted their services in order to reach their goal of increasing their market share without having to increase the number of stores. They created “virtual” stores in subway stations, and other high traffic areas and provided QR under the picture and price of each item.  People waiting for subway are looking on the pictures and can add items to their shopping carts by scanning QR codes with their smart phones, and then the items purchased are delivered to their homes.  Here is the video:

Now, think about the QRs and their potential for marketing library collections …..   I can see libraries creating “virtual” displays where a graphic presentation of a book is accompanied with a QR code that can provide detailed and precise  book information.   People could view such thematic displays of books and snap a picture of the QR code with their iphones.  Public libraries could even create “virtual” branches on subway platforms, bus stops, etc. where people could browse the collections while waiting for a train or bus and having them delivered either to their ebook reader or home.

The link between QRs and libraries is obvious.  The basic principle behind this technology is the same as behind library barcodes.  Think about the checkout computer at the library. It scans a barcode and the item scanned is added to a list. The command – namely, “add this item to the list is built into the design of the barcode and is decoded by the library system. Similarly, QR codes can be scanned with a device which will then carry out the action built into the code.   What’s left is for the library to do is to create a system where these codes can be decoded and the library action carried on (i.e. send this book on hold).

I work at a library where we provide InfoExpress service for our faculty.  The way it works is that the faculty members  e-mail the library staff responsible for this service the title, the author and publication details of the resource they need, and the library staff retrieve or sometimes obtain the materials from other locations and deliver them to the profs.  This is a very popular service.  Imagine it paired with QRs… Imagine always getting the correct citation, imagine how easy it would be for the faculty to order these books without having to type the bibliographic information….  Then imagine promoting the collections using QR coding, imagine that all the incoming new books could be “displayed” this way in high traffic areas while the physical copies would circulate…., or imagine creating thematic book displays in the faculty hallways and classrooms….  Imagine embedding the library in a very real way into every research or project by creating “virtual” thematic displays equipped with codes….  Imagine….

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Library Services on the Go

With the arrival of smart phones, phone became an integral part of our lives. Not only do we carry our phones with us wherever we go, but  we are also using them for almost everything.   We started using phone for voice communication exclusively, and now  we are  using it for playing games, watching movies, browsing the Internet, hanging out with friends on social networks, getting updated with the news, banking needs, and increasingly, as the first (and often only) step for looking up any information we need.

For the first time in history, libraries are serving people who have access to all the information they could ever want in the palm of their hand.  Unlike the previous generation, which didn’t mind waiting to get their information when they got home, or the generations before that were patient enough to wait until they made it to the library, the mobile generation wants their information on the go.

There are hundreds of thousands of mobile applications for the iPhone and Android is not far behind.  Xcube Labs Mobile App Development Firm came up with a very informative infographic to explain usage patterns of smart phone apps.

It is alarming however, that there are very few apps build for libraries and very few libraries that have mobile websites.  Yet, it is obvious that if we are to remain in the information business, we have to be present in the media through which people are looking for information.

While fully mobile websites are complicated to build, some libraries we are using QR codes to bridge their physical and online collections.   I am currently working on a project at my library where we use QR codes to point our patrons to online resources that replaced or duplicate our physical holdings.  This is much less than building a mobile website, but by doing so we are helping our patrons to locate relevant online information quickly and are introducing QR technology to some of them.  More about it in my next post…

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Filed under Future, media, technology