QR Codes on Open Day

Boys downloading QR code reader Working on quiz Boys using phones

Back in March this year I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the M-Libraries conference which was held here in Brisbane. There I realised that university libraries and public libraries around the world are grappling with the need to reach their clients through mobile technology.  Why? According to Tony Kuesgen, Google’s head of technology in Australia and New Zealand, “More internet searches will be done on mobile phones than on desktop computers by 2013 as Australians increasingly embrace smart phones.”  Read more at: Smartphones ‘to overtake desktops for internet.”

I attended a session by Michelle Turner and Joanna Witt of Charles Darwin University Library, and was intrigued by a Library Treasure Hunt which they had made up (see below), using QR codes to gather statistics on how their physical and virtual library services were being used. I decided that this idea would be a good one to try out on Open Day, and last weekend I was able to put it to the test.

CDU Treasure Hunt - QR Codes

QR stands for Quick Response, and these square barcodes are a way of connecting the real world with the online world – of connecting users, with a minimum of clicks, to some type of information: a website, a text message, an SMS, a podcast, a phone number. After lots of reading and researching, I decided to use QR Stuff and, due to its simplicity yet versatility, I would highly recommend it. Because I ran out of time (and because I thought that connecting to the internet on a mobile phone might put some parents off) I simply linked each QR code to a text message – presumably stored on the QR Stuff website. You can change the colour of the barcodes with QR Stuff, and the website creates the barcode on the right of the screen as you type. Once you have finished, download and save it, or copy into your document.

Next, I looked for free QR code readers which could be quickly downloaded. Most readers scan the barcode as soon as you line up the red sqaure on the screen around the barcode.  My choice would be i-nigma, as it is very fast and clean, however some people chose to use BeeTagg instead – still a good choice because it’s free, but an extra click is required.

I set up 9 different clues around the Library, with each scanned code giving instructions for finding the next clue, and also asking a question which had to be answered. At each point the participants also had to collect a word, and then put them together in the right order to make  sentence about reading. It’s essential at this point to number your codes, to make them highly visible (I backed them with bright green paper), and to make sure the whole thing is working. I had some student volunteers go around and try it out to make sure all the codes were in the right order and made sense.

So that people without smart phones on Open Day did not feel disadvantaged, we ran a traditional pen and paper treasure hunt as well. The prize for each was chocolate, but the QR code hunt took a lot longer than the other treasure hunt, so that is something I would look at in future.

I found that people needed a bit of help to understand what they were required to do. Maybe my instructions were too brief, or maybe they just didn’t read them. Kids did very well as long as a parent was there to help them. This week we have left the instructions and entry forms out for our students: some have picked it up quickly, and others have struggled a bit with the concept.

For Open Day I created a QR Codes poster, a QR Codes brochure, a QR Codes table sign, a QR Codes entry form and a QR Codes clue sheet. If you are interested, feel free to download and modify any of these documents from the BGS Library page at Scribd.

One parent was very keen to learn how I had created the codes because he had seen them around and wanted to use them in his business.  A lot more businesses are using QR codes these days for advertisng their products, because the codes can instantly take people to their business website, email address, telephone number or message.

Benefits for the Library:  it’s good to be one step ahead of the boys!  We were also asked to showcase the use of technology in our department, and this was a good way to do that. We have experimented in the past with putting these codes on novels to link to an author’s website, but without a lot of uptake. I think it’s an idea worth pursuing though, especially when most students will soon carry a phone with them everywhere. I may start glueing them into the back of novels to quickly take the boys to more information about the book or the author, or to reviews written about the book. Another idea is to use them on our APA Referencing booklets to take students directly to the BibMe or EasyBib citation creation sites.

Other useful links:

http://www.launchsquad.com/blogs/whatsnew/2010/12/02/qr-codes-making-the-visceral-world-link-able/ –  What are QR Codes?

QR Treasure Hunt Generator –  Free online generator

QR Codes in Education – excellent PPT showing many ways QR codes can be used in the classroom





http://socialtimes.com/no-projector-use-qr-code-slideshare-to-share-a-presentation-on-smartphones_b73334 –  Using QR codes for presentation

Scanning a QR code QR code at Matthew Reilly's books

Chelmsford Learning Commons

Valerie Diggs, Director of Libraries in Chelmsford and Library Teacher at Chelmsford High School, has created an innovative,  vibrant and stimulating library space,  both physically and online.

Read here how Valerie already had an engaging program operating, then managed to get funding for her library make-over. The slideshow below shows library programs in action, as well as before-and-after photos of the library renovation.

Visit the library website here:    Chelmsford High School Learning Commons Homepage

“What you have here is truly a lighthouse accomplishment for schools in Massachusetts, indeed across the US,” said Ross J. Todd, an associate professor of library and information science at Rutgers, at an opening celebration of the Learning Commons on Friday. “What you’ve done is transformed a school library into a learning commons which traverses both the print and the digital information worlds.”

David Loertscher, a professor at San Jose State University and a champion of redesigning school libraries, flew in to see what the team had created. Although he was impressed by the physical space, he said the most important work was Diggs’s collaboration with teachers to teach students how to analyze the information available to them.
(see The Boston Globe newspaper article)

Flickr: School Library Displays

If you don’t already have a flickr account, consider using it for showcasing to parents photos of events that are happening in your library e.g. author visits, competitions, storytelling sessions,  recommended books (get cover images from Amazon), Book Week displays and events. Having a flickr account also means that you can upload and save your photos from any computer, making it very easy to share them.

 Once you have created an account, you can upload photos into ‘sets’ and make them private or public. If you make them private, then only the people you invite can view those photos. This of course is good for photos involving students.


You can upload photos quite large in size, but I prefer to resize them first (to 800 x 600) for speed of uploading. I use VSO Image Resizer, a free program you can download at http://www.vso-software.fr/products/image_resizer/download-image-resizer.php  however Picasa will also resize photos for you.

If you would like to share some photos of your library displays, I have created a ‘group’ in flickr called School Library Displays:  http://flickr.com/groups/school_library_displays  It doesn’t matter if your displays are big or small, it will be a place where anyone can share ideas or get ideas. If you have downloaded Cooliris onto your computer (see my previous blog entry), have a look at the library display photos using the Cooliris photowall – they look really good!



 Some of our Redlands College library displays – see more in Flickr.

BookCrossing – Make the Whole World a Library!


If you want an exciting way to interest your students in reading, then try encouraging them to give books a ‘wild’ adventure with BookCrossing.  Over 700,000 people in 130 different countries have helped to create this ‘travelling library’, where you can tag and release books or go hunting for them around the world.  Over 5,000,000 books have been registerd so far, and 300 new members are added each day!

 How does it work?

Set up an account at http://www.bookcrossing.com/, register each book to create a unique BookCrossing ID number for it, enter details about where you plan to release it, add some stickers, then let it go!! Hopefully someone will pick up the book, read it, add a comment to the web journal, then release it again back into ‘the wild’.  You will receive an email to alert you whenever someone adds a journal comment to one of your books, and in this way you can track where your books have travelled around the world.

At Redlands College I ask anyone travelling overseas or interstate if they would like to take a book and release it somewhere. So far this year we have released over 40 books around the world, and they have been picked up in London, Glasgow, Barcelona, Ontario, British Columbia and Bribie Island.

BookCrossing Store

A BookCrossing account is free, and if you are a teacher or librarian you can even get a free starter kit. If you would like to set your library or classroom up as a Crossing Zone, take a look at this link:  http://www.bookcrossing.com/files/BookCrossing-and-Libraries.pdf 

I go to Scholastic warehouse sales and buy boxes of books for $1/book, and I let the students select which book they would like to take and release. I buy stickers, bookplates and release bags from the BookCrossing Store:  https://secure.bookcrossing.com/store/prodtypelist.asp, and I also glue labels onto the books which other BookCrossers have made up.  (http://www.bookcrossing.com/labels , also try typing ‘BookCrossing labels’ into Google)

One of these books is off to Germany

One of these books is off to Germany


From the BookCrossing website:   “BookCrossers give life to books. A book registered on BookCrossing is ready for adventure. Leave it on a park bench, a coffee shop, at a hotel on vacation. Share it with a friend or tuck it onto a bookshelf at the gym — anywhere it might find a new reader! What happens next is up to fate, and we never know where our books might travel. Track the book’s journey around the world as it is passed on from person to person.”

Below are some of the comments that people have left on Redlands College book journals:

“I was waiting for my flight back to Canada and found the book in Barcelona Airport Terminal B, June 28, 2008. I thought someone had forgotten it but when I moved it to another seat I turned it over and the bag said free book so with some hesitation and doubt I opened the bag and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not a hoax and hence brought the book home to London Ontario. I have now read the book and enjoyed it very much.”

“Caught the book in a bar in Glasgow. Traveled across Europe with me and back home to New York!”

“My parents discovered this book during the London leg of their trip to Germany. We were all impressed and amazed at where it was found as my sister and I are ex-Redlands College students. Its amazing the things you find when you leave home!”

“I found this book at the Vancouver International Airport. I was on my way home to Prince Rupert, BC (from Prince George, BC) and was waiting for my flight. I have never heard of this so I was interested…. I think this is a wonderful idea and am a life-time book lover myself. What a great adventure for both the child and the book!”

Some of our books that have been released
Some of our books that have been released       

Here’s a link to someone’s BookShelf that was posted on a forum. As you can see, he is a serious BookCrosser!!         https://secure.bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/GoryDetails