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Marketing with QR Codes

Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Problem Statement

In today’s fast-paced environment, smart phones and mobile devices are playing an increasingly important role in the daily lives of our customers. With these hectic lifestyles, it is more difficult than ever to capture the attention of those on the go long enough to read any in-depth copy.


Our Library began adding Quick Response or QR codes to our Summer Reading Program promotional materials in May 2010. With four separate Summer Reading Programs for different age groups, each with its own rules, prize structures, and related activities, the information about participating was complicated and lengthy. With a simple click of a smart phone or mobile device, a QR code instantly connected our busy customers to the Summer Reading website where they could get more information, watch a video, leave a comment, make a phone call with a direct link, and map an address. It’s easy to create a QR code from a number of free generators available online. The codes can be generated in-house at no cost and added to materials without additional expense.


Marketing with QR codes makes it convenient for customers to quickly find more information about a library program, service, or resource through a simple scan. Since May 2010, QR codes were used on promotional items for our community-wide annual reading program, featured book of the month bookmarks, e-reader training program flyers, and other major events. However, the most successful uses have been for online services. Our Sneak Peeks advance holds program featuring QR codes received 4 times more hits than the Summer Reading materials. Most recently in February, the QR code on materials announcing our mobile website received 1,435% more hits than the codes first used less than 9 months before. We are adding QR codes to all of our promotional materials when there is a corresponding website available offering more information about the activity or item being promoted. QR codes can be used for scavenger hunts, on the backs of staff t-shirts, on a library vehicle wrap, on book displays to lead customers to reviews or book summaries, next to equipment to provide instructions on use, to drive traffic to the library’s social media sites, to provide audio tours of the library or taped testimonials from happy customers.