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Alphabet Soup: QR Codes and NFC

August 3, 2011

QR Code generated by

Most of us know what Quick Response (QR) Codes are and can do.  We see the QR Codes everywhere now.  They are in magazines, store advertisements, business cards, newspapers, on wine bottles, and in library online catalogs.  There are QR code generators (e.g. that create the code and QR readers (e.g. that allow smartphones to scan the code and load the QR content.  For example if I scan the QR code on a colleague’s business card it might take me to their current CV or Web site. 

On May 20, 2011 the New York Public Library hosted an all-night event for young adults lucky enough to be selected to participate in the “Find the Future at NYPL: The Game”.  One hundred items in the NYP were given QR codes with embedded information.  The end result was a printed book filled with essays written by participants. (

Now enter Near Field Communication or NFC, similar to RFID.  The NFC chip is implanted in items like business cards, posters, and stickers.  These NFC chips utilize wireless technologies to transfer information to smartphones with NFC chips. Potential uses include credit card payment, ID card, or museum display with video.  Smartphones with NFC chips should be able to transfer content (e.g. photos, files) by “bumping” their phones together.  With this new form of technology come questions about data security.

Does anyone have a smartphone with an NFC chip?  If so, would you like to tell us how you use it?

For more information:

Near Field Communication

QR Codes vs. Near Field Communication: The Battle for Google’s Attention

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 3, 2011 6:33 pm

    Register online for the 2011 PaLA Annual Conference to hear more on these topics. Early Bird registration ends on August 21 and saves you $25.00. The conference will be held at the Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in State College.

    On Monday, October 3 at 9:00am, Sheli McHugh and Kristen Yarmey, librarians at the University of Scranton’s Weinberg Memorial Library, are presenting “A Librarian’s Field Guide to Near Field Communication.” Sherry Steele Roth from the Penn State University Libraries will present a poster titled, “Those Quirky QR Codes” at 1:00pm that afternoon.

    Meghan Snatchko and Kelly Rottmund, librarians at the Sewickley Public Library, will present a session on “Quick Response Codes for Libraries: Using Scannable Barcodes to Engage your Smartphone Users” Tuesday, October 4 at 2:15pm. At 3:30pm that same day, Erin Burns, Assistant Librarian at the Wilkes-Barre Campus of Penn State, will present a poster titled, “Reimagined ‘Library Treasure Hunt’ for the Mobile Generation.”

    Hope to see you in State College!

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