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Enhanced Browsing via Smartphone

Imagine looking for a book in the library, and there, right next to the shelf, you find a button you could push to open a searchable index on your cell phone! While we don't have buttons yet, the Libraries are testing Quick Response (QR) codes to achieve this, and other goals.

QR codes are a kind of barcode that can be decoded by a camera-equipped mobile phone to reveal a variety of things, including website URLs and text. Developed in 1994 for parts tracking in manufacturing, QR codes are emerging as a useful and sometimes intriguing tool to link people to information. You may have seen them already in advertisements or museum displays. Since last September, the UCI Libraries have displayed them as a way to connect our online and physical environments.

You can find our QR codes on posters in library elevators, on the end panels of bookshelves and on pink guides placed among certain book collections. Because our Mathematics book collection includes both printed and electronic books (eBooks), QR codes in this section takes users to the eBooks that would be shelved there. In the Art section, QR codes take users to Library of Congress call numbers, providing a sort of browsing map for various art subjects. Nearby, in the English Literature section, QR codes retrieve a listing of mobile-optimized relevant research databases. In the Chemistry journals section, a QR code links to SciFinder Scholar, the primary database of Chemistry articles.

As our pilot continues, we have placed QR codes on several informational signs. For example, a code on the "Closed" sign at several service desks links you to our online services, always available even when we are not on duty. Library users have scanned these QR codes hundreds of times, and we have received very positive feedback. We encourage anyone who has used them to submit a comment at: www.lib.uci.edu/about/contact/web-feedback-form.html. We are using the feedback and data to find the best fit for the codes in the libraries.

For more information on QR codes in the Libraries, contact Jeff Schneidewind (jhschnei@uci.edu or x47099) or Jeffra Bussmann (jbussman@uci.edu or x49266).


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