An Answer. Converged Devices, Barcodes & the Future


On Friday, I asked a question:

Made with

I wanted to see what type of response I might get putting it into the form above. Three events in three weeks lead to this post. This kind of synchronicity always makes my trendspotting radar go off.

First, I met some great folks from Pasco Libraries in Florida when I spoke at the TBLC Annual Meeting. They shared with me a promotion for their Battle of the Bands event: the intial announcement was made via a 2D code. Not a flier, not a blog post, not a Facebook alert —  but a two dimensional barcode. Take a look at the screenshot above: the library’s MySpace page displayed the 2D code for the young people to find and decodewith their phones.

So what is 2D code? explains it well:

2D Codes are almost like 1D Barcodes – They identify an object uniquely. The big difference is that 2D Codes can be used to virtually identify anything!

Just create a 2D Code and put it on something – Like a shirt, a flyer or a business card.

You now have your own ‘barcode’! Anybody can scan this code and get to the information you decided to put in when you created the Code. If you registered with Snappr you can also come back to the site later and change the content of your Code to something completely different. So one day your T-Shirt links to a simple text and the other day directly to your Flickr profile. Just try creating a code on the ‘Create Code‘ site. It is really easy.

I asked the folks from Pasco to send me more details for TTW. I hope they do!

Second, right after my trip to Florida, TTW Contributor Lee LeBlanc went to DevLearn and found 2D Codes used to promote and share info about events as well. I’m hoping he’ll post about that conference here as well.

Third, just a few days later, I spoke to a group of librarian locally in Illinois and had an interesting response about the cell phone banning signs I use in my talks. I told the questioning librarian that I appreciated her feedback and candor. It was a little difficult to be called out like that in the Q & A but I am glad she did. The group responded with various ideas about friendly signage and policies and the message we send to our users.*

And I do understand that dealing with difficult patrons – loud, rude, etc – as she described, can be a daunting task. BUT. Banning cell phones (and the converged devices they’ve become) is no longer an option for libraries. That sign on your door with a cell phone and a red circle/line through it simply has got to go. Go take it down. I’ll wait.

I think both Michael Casey and I feel very strongly about this particular signpost toward transparency: “Focus on user-driven policy, not driving users away. Usage patterns, user needs, and the grim reality of tough economic times mean we must steadily reevaluate our mission, our services, and our policies.” This means trying to control your users and their technology might not be a good idea as we go forward with libraries in an uncertain and fluid age.

Why you ask?

We should be guiding user behavior in our spaces with simply stated codes of conduct (not unfriendly lists of rules) instead of focusing on banning technology to control behavior. Teens out of control? Block Facebook! Person talking too loud on phone? Ban the cellphone.

That’s broken.

I just downloaded the Snapper application and I can now access, scan and search for barcode information with my phone and you never know – I may want to scan materials in your library. Other people might want to do that too. People are already using these devices to find all sorts of things on their own, even while standing in your big beautiful library with lovely reference desk. The device connects me – us – them to the world.

So that’s a big reason to go to the table, re-do your “No Cell Phone” policy to something more friendly, and think about ways to incorporate these technologies into your own services. 

How about a 2D code scavenger hunt? How about library materials labeled with the codes sharing details and little known facts about the work or similar items? 

I was fiddling with the Snapper app while thinking about this post. To test the barcode finder, I keyed in the code on the new Shanachie Tour book. The shot above is what came up. It was that easy. I need to play more to find out if I can customize where the results come from – wouldn’t it be nice if it could be my local library?

(Here’s the rest of the story.)