QR codes, or Quick Response codes, are a type of barcode that are commonly used to encode data to be read by smartphones and other portable devices. The SCRC uses QR codes to add value to exhibits, displays, and other features of the library.

For example, exhibits are a prime use case for QR codes. Labels often attempt to focus the viewer on the key elements of the exhibit; however, there is often more that can be said. Instead of trying to force all of this information onto a label, it could instead be used to create or improve a page on the SCRC Wiki; QR codes could then be used to link to this additional information.

How to create a QR code

The basic overview for Google Infographics' QR code creator can be found at http://code.google.com/apis/chart/infographics/docs/overview.html. Each of your QR codes are created through a URL. The example one that Google gives is https://chart.googleapis.com/chart?chs=150x150&cht=qr&chl=Hello%20world. If you copy and paste that into a browser window, you will get a 150x150 pixes QR code with the text "Hello world" encoded in it.

To encode a URL into the QR code, simple replace "Hello%20world" with the URL to which you wish to link. For example, if I wanted to create a QR code with the link to the SCRC wiki page about Abingdon Parish, the link would be https://chart.googleapis.com/chart?chs=100x100&cht=qr&chl=http://scrc.swem.wm.edu/wiki/index.php/Abingdon_Parish. Note that I have changed the size of the QR code from 150x150 to 100x100 so that the more easily fit on labels.

The site createqrcode.appspot.com provides an easy front-end to this service and allows you to choose the size of your QR Code.

How to embed a QR code into your label

Now that you have a QR code, how do you get it onto your labels? It is very easy; you simply right click on the QR code, select "Copy image," and then paste that image into Word. You can then center it, leave it left justified, or whatever you deem best for your label.


A new website, called QRpedia, is a service for creating QR codes to Wikipedia, with a twist. When you create a QR code on their site, it will not only link to the Wikipedia article, it will automatically direct them to the Wikipedia article in their own native language. It uses the phone's language settings to determine what language it will use; if there is not an article in that language, it will fallback to the English one, I believe. It also uses Google Infographics to create the codes, and so you can still change the size to 100x100.

Suggestions for uses of your QR code

  • Link to the exhibit page on the main introductory label.
  • Links to the SCRC wiki articles about important people, places, or events.
  • Link to YouTube or Flickr for more examples of a type of artifact, previous events or exhibits on similar topics, etc.
  • Link to the W&M Digital Archive for a complete version of an excerpted item.
  • Link to the Special Collections Database for the full description of an item or collection.
  • Link to a blog, wiki, or other website that accompanies the exhibit.
  • Link to authoritative sources not maintained by Swem Library.