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The plan behind the scan: using QR codes as a service and marketing tool

Elizabeth Berndt-Morris (( is based at Central Michigan University Libraries, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA)
Kari Chrenka (Central Michigan University Libraries, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA)

Library Hi Tech News

ISSN: 0741-9058

Article publication date: 25 November 2014




This paper aims to describe the approach of using quick response (QR) codes in a large US research university library. It describes the reasoning behind the numerous decisions that were made throughout the process.


This project was carefully planned to keep detailed organized statistics, effective and clear signage and low expenditures. After one year, the patrons were surveyed regarding library QR use and those results were compared with scan statistics.


This preliminary research into the use of QR codes in a large research library validates that the codes effectively demonstrate the Library’s willingness to reach patrons in innovative ways. It also confirmed the need to promote the usefulness of scanning the codes.

Practical implications

Some patrons stated they did not own a smartphone or have an application (app) on their phone that could scan QR codes; therefore, alternate methods of accessing the information should be provided.

Social implications

The survey established that not all patrons recognize what QR codes are by name and/or by function, and libraries should recognize this need for education when imploring new technologies.


This paper looks at the opportunities provided to libraries through the use of QR codes, including the benefits of using them as a point of need service tool and marketing device.



Berndt-Morris, E. and Chrenka, K. (2014), "The plan behind the scan: using QR codes as a service and marketing tool", Library Hi Tech News, Vol. 31 No. 10, pp. 17-19.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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