@ Your Library: Making sense of the code

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The first time I saw one or at least noticed it was two weeks ago and in a magazine I was looking at. It was vaguely recognisable as a barcode but I wasn’t really sure; it looks more like a tiny crossword puzzle with small squares, a lot of them filled in with no discernable pattern.

According to the all-knowing all-seeing Internet, these barcode-type things are called QR codes, the QR for quick response. I have also seen it referred to as a snap code but that does not appear to be in wide use. It is a cellphone readable barcode that can store website URLs, plain text, phone numbers, email addresses and any other alphanumeric data. Apparently (Internet again) they originated in Japan in 1994 and only very recently made their way over here. There were first used to code car parts in the car industry (Wikipedia) but have been picked up by businesses and organisations to provide instant access to their websites and email, among other things.

They can be found in magazines, on business cards and on buses, and I saw a very big one the other day in Kelowna on a roadside sign advertising a new condo building. With your iPhone, Smartphone, Android phone or whatever you are using that comes with the scanner, you can instantly access the website that tells you a 300-foot condo in a building in Kelowna is going to cost more your house on two acres in Creston, your trailer in Yuma and your RV put together.

When you scan the QR code in a magazine you can go directly to the sales site of the kitchen cupboards you are looking at and order them. You and your money can part company with even great ease now with another technological aid to capitalism.

From a more pragmatic, library perspective, if library items had the code on them, you could scan it with your phone, which would take you right to the library website and your account and you could renew them in seconds if you needed to.

A quick trip to the Internet again just answered a question I had that I wished I hadn’t. The new Canadian passports are using QR codes. The company doing them is CodeZ QR, an American Company out of Houston, Texas, which is a division of the much larger American Company COPI.  Why are Americans claiming they need jobs when we give them ours? We are such good friends.

It had to happen: The last book to arrive in the mail for the library collection is titled The Dragon with the Girl Tattoo. Also just in are two copies of the new Lee Child book, The Affair, and the audio book. I have the audio book. Child (who is actually a British writer named Jim Grant) is good. The Okanagan system has had over 350 reserves on the book, but our reserve list is somewhat shorter — a great deal shorter, in fact.

Tom Cruise must have paid someone big money because he is playing Jack Reacher in the 2013 movie, One Shot, a Jack Reacher novel written in 2005. The book character Reacher is six-foot-five; Cruise is five-foot-six. I don’t think so and not only because of his height.

Ann Day is the chief librarian at the Creston and District Public Library.

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