I think so. On the surface they seem like a great idea: they’re square images which have encoded information which can be easily captured with a smartphone’s camera. The encoded information is usually a URL but can also be an email address, a SMS destination, etc. The user snaps a photo of the quick response (QR) code image with their QR code app and then something happens (usually a web page opens). Sounds simple, right?
It turns out to be not so simple. Many smartphones don’t ship with an app that can read QR codes, so potential users have to chase down a QR code app … this isn’t difficult, but it’s the most important step and most users don’t realize they have to do this until they encounter a QR code they want to work with, and then it’s too late (so the first QR code interaction is often a failure).
Those who expect to use QR codes usually need a smartphone with which to process the code but there are still a significant number of Americans who don’t have the use of a smartphone. Last year Nielsen (the consumer surveying organization) reported that nearly 50% of Americans have a smartphone. While they also reported substantial growth among smartphone users a significant number of people don’t yet have the technology with which to view QR codes.
QR codes are not the simplest, most transparent way to present information. A URL or email address can be used by many library users using technology already available in most libraries. It seems counterintuitive to use a technology that may keep users from participating in the library community.