February 16, 2018

QR Codes: How Easy Is This??

In a previous blog post, I highlighted some of the social media trends for 2011 and QR codes were one of the list. And, they have become l more and more prevalent over the last couple of months. You’ve probably seen an ad with a barcode like image and wondered what the heck is that? Well, that is a QR code. QR codes can provide information in text fashion or it can link directly to a website or other online destination.

So I wondered: how hard can it be?

I  decided to try to develop a QR code myself, and was prepared  for a a labourous and frustrating process. But guess what? It was the easiest thing I did all day! Here’s all you’ll need to do.

  • Download a barcode/OR code generator on your smartphone. There are a few apps available. I simply downloaded one called barcode generator.
  • When I pulled up the barcode generator app, all you do is type in a message or website and click generate.
  • The barcode is automatically created.
  • You then have the option to save or share. I saved it as well as sent it via email to myself and a few coworkers.
  • The email appeared with the QR code image as an attachment.
  • In order to read the QR code, you’ll need to download a QR reader on your smartphone. There are several apps available. I downloaded BWScan.
  • Now for the fun part. Once the QR image is on your computer screen, click your QR reader app and hold your phone up like you’re taking a picture. The QR reader will take a picture and you’ll see the text that was written or it will direct you to a website if you provided a link.
For libraries QR codes can be used in as many ways as your imagination can think of. One thing we are doing: our biggest promotion is around Summer Reading Club. We’re putting QR codes on all our fliers and posters to provide a direct and live link to our website and registration. I also envision them being used throughout the stacks to provide interesting facts or possibly as a scavenger hunt through our branches. We haven’t completely figured out exactly how they’ll be used, but we know that they will.
This is an interesting article that shows how a Picasso exhibit is incorporating QR codes to create a more interactive customer experience. So get busy and start experimenting. Let me know how you decide to use them!
Alison Circle About Alison Circle

Alison Circle is director of marketing communications for Columbus Metropolitan Library. Previously she was an Account Director at Jack Morton Worldwide, a global branding agency, and her primary client was Target Stores. Prior to that she was the National Marketing Director for Minnesota Public Radio and "A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor." She has advanced degrees in English and Fine Arts, and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant.



  1. I know!!!!! In June 2010, I offered to do a program on QR Codes at the next Florida Library Association conference (this May), and now EVERYBODY will alreeady know everything about them before I even open my mouth. I test codes at my desk using a program called QuickMark and if you want some basic statistics, sign into Google and use goo.gl to generate code from any URL. For example, here is a link to a code with very basic stats: http://goo.gl/info/vNW57#week
    So you can tell if your code use is effective. But since (I would guess) Google generates one code per URL, you can’t generate different codes for the same thing to test where you get the best results, like placing one code inhouse and using the others around town.
    Anyway, I hope everyone there are still a few people around in May who don’t know everything and show up to hear me. Because I have some cool stuff prepared to show them.

  2. This recent article has some good info on how to generate and track multiple URL’s & QR codes for a single URL so you can track effectiveness of different marketing strategies: http://goo.gl/M8Fgf

  3. Great article. I setup my contact qr code at http://www.bwscan.com and it has a great display on my phone when I scan that code. I am going to get QR code stickers from BWScan to stick behind my business cards.

  4. Excellent article! This is what Im looking for. Thank you so much, Im very happy.