E-Readers and QR Codes

November 13, 2011 at 9:29 pm (Uncategorized)

A Picture of a eBook

Image via Wikipedia

I work in a somewhat unique community.  It is  vacation destination due to its beaches and our population swells to roughly three times the normal amount of residents we have here in the summer months.  We are also a library that currently offers library cards only to patrons that contribute to our local taxes, even though that is in the process of being altered.  After having a conversation with my director about her vacation and how everyone at her resort was using some type of e-reader, I came to a conclusion.  We are a vacation destination and it is very likely that people who are visiting for a week or two, may indeed also be carrying e-readers with them.

Thus, I surmised that I wanted to offer access  to our e-collection. I did not want vacationers feel like they needed to purchase a library card in order to be granted access to free library content.  This an idea that I felt strongly about.  I never want to turn someone away from library without the item they came in looking to find.  So with all of that said, I decided that we could link visitors, and patrons, to Project Gutenberg through our OverDrive website.

Project Gutenberg (PG) began in 1971, and as of this post, it currently offers over 36,000 free e-books, with most of them in the International Digital Publishers Forum‘s standard ePub format.  (ePub is a fantastic format because it utilizes re-flowable text, which has the ability to adjust text to any size mobile screen; therefore, making it usable on a wide variety of mobile devices).  PG offers  titles that are readily available to anyone in the United States.  They are mainly titles found in public domain because the copyright has never been renewed.  On the other hand, OverDrive is the largest provider of e-content to public libraries in the United States.  They offer e-books to libraries, within a platform where there is a yearly service charge for their services plus the individual costs per title purchased.  The combination of the two brings together free and paid for e-content services.

In the beginning of 2011, OverDrive began to promote Project Gutenberg on their website.  Patrons can download titles, keep them for as long as they like, and never have those particular check outs count against what they borrow from the OverDrive library.  The titles will never expire.  Patrons can keep PG tiles for as long as they want.

I really wanted to promote this new partnership and decide to create a QR (quick response) code.  It was simple to do and

Project Gutenberg QR Code

took no time.  I simply found a QR maker, saved the image, and began printing materials to promote the service.  I used the QR code on our library’s homepage and patron handbook.  I created large glossy posters that I distributed to our branches and plastered everywhere I could in the main building where I work.  I placed it in a tri-fold that explains how to download content to e-readers that I constantly hand out to patrons and visitors alike.  I even mentioned the code in classes I taught to the public and our staff on downloading to e-readers.

The result?  Our statistics have gone up.  Although, I cannot say this is a direct correlation to the QR, the timing between its implementation and the usage of our OverDrive-Gutenberg page did increase.  So what does all this mean?  I think it is important for librarians to continue and try to strive to discover ways in which technology can make for a better patron experience.  There has also been many a time where patrons have asked me about the QR code and what it is exactly.  This has led to some great conversations, not only about the code and what it links to, but the fact we have e-content and are finding various new ways to promote it.  There is really nothing more satisfactory than seeing patrons scan the code with their mobile device and seeing where it leads too.  I should also mention that promoting Project Gutenberg has also freed up my e-budget as well because I no longer have to buy the classics when they are available for free and to anyone who discovers their presence.

So in the end, you may not feel like making a QR code, but at least you know there are ways libraries can be computer and technology savvy about their collections.  It is about making the patron experience interesting and noteworthy, so they know that the library is a wonderful, giving, and important asset to their community.  If it was not for our patrons there is the chance that we may not be here.  So when you have a moment, think about your favorite technologies and how the library can be integrated into the aspects that you find interesting and noteworthy.

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  1. Sally said,

    Good on you!

    Florida Library has also been doing something along similar lines: (http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2011/11/ebooks/florida-library-makes-34000-ebooks-available-at-international-airport/)

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