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Though true location aware devices such as GPS enabled phones are becoming more common (e.g., the latest iPhone includes GPS and compass) developing services that “augment” reality is unrealistic for most libraries due to time; money and technical constraints.
There is an easier option though – using small printed codes, such as QR codes, around the library that link to resources and information appropriate to their location. QR (Quick Response) codes are a matrix codes, like a two dimensional bar code. They can be read by mobile phones with integrated cameras, with a small application installed. Some mobiles come with the application ready installed, though it can also be download for free from the internet and installed on PDAs, smartphones and other mobile devices. At the University of Huddersfield we have used QR codes to deliver context appropriate help and information to blur the boundaries between the physical and electronic world. We’ve developed mobile friendly materials to deliver information skills materials directly to our users at the point of need, linked by QR codes on printed materials and on appropriate locations in the physical library. This article outlines the practical uses we’ve found for QR codes and gives preliminary results of how they’ve been received by our library users.