QR codes, audio tour, library


How do new college students learn about the library? What information do librarians provide to help connect them with the library, its resources and its importance to their academic success? How can we encourage student engagement with the library and all the information available to them, both print and online? All of these are questions to which college and university libraries struggle to find answers. Finding answers to these questions will increase usage of library space and resources, as well and improve the research abilities of the students. One method is through an introduction to or tour of the library. Many college or university libraries require first year students to complete a tour or orientation of the library, as an introduction to the services provided therein. At Brigham Young University (BYU), the library audio tour at the Harold B. Lee Library (HBLL) has served this purpose for decades without much change in the way library information is presented. The script has changed (largely because of shifts and service relocations), as well as the delivery medium (from cassette tape to CD to MP3), but the mode of content delivery has continued to be a one-way interaction—information presented to the student via audio. This mode of delivery is not in itself ineffective for every student. However, many students learn better if they are able to interact with the information they are required to learn. Since individuals have various learning styles, library information, such as the tour, should be presented in a variety of ways to facilitate learning in these different styles.1 For those students who are more visual or kinesthetic learners, is there a way to encourage students to interact with library resources while taking a tour? One potential method is to use QR (quick response) codes. QR codes ( Code) were invented in Japan by Denso-Wave, who owns the patent for the code but has not exercised their rights, for inventory management and are more popular in the world of inventory management, where scanners are heavily used for that purpose. These codes are two-dimensional codes similar to bar codes, which transmit information to a cell phone by taking a picture of the matrix. This matrix is then interpreted by software on the phone that saves the textual information to the phone. Since between 80 and 90 percent of college and university students own a cell phone,2 many of which have built-in cameras, using the hardware already owned by students provides a great opportunity to integrate learning with technology. The following is a report of a study conducted using QR codes as the delivery mode of the library audio tour at the HBLL at BYU.

Original Publication Citation

ACRL Conference Proceedings

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


American Library Association




Harold B. Lee Library