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Broward County Library, FL
Innovation SummaryIn July 2012, Broward County Library launched QR Quest, an exciting interactive contest that takes customers on an informative, fun journey through the many valuable services and resources Broward County Library offers. Winners received iPod Touches, Kindles, iPads and iPods. Winners were selected by random drawing in September 2012.
The QR Quest was designed as an entertaining way to inform the community about the many and varied services provided by the Library, including eBooks, the Library’s mobile app and other modern technology. With the growing number of people using smart phones and eBooks, it is essential to position the library as a provider of cutting edge, relevant services. In the past two years, Broward County Library has greatly expanded its electronic services to include a virtual branch, free downloadable music, ebooks, emagazines, and a state-of-the-art mobile app. Posters placed in the downtown Central Bus Terminal and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport feature QR codes users can scan to access both free downloadable books and the Library’s mobile app. While the Library did extensive promotions for the new services, such as media relations and the creation of palm cards, posters and other materials, an attention getting method of promotion incorporating QR codes and a hands-on activity was an excellent way to inform existing customers of the Library’s new services and to attract new customers.
The QR Quest was Broward County Library’s first major contest. All Broward County residents with a current Broward County Library card were eligible to play. Players with smart phones such as iPhones and Androids could scan QR (quick response) codes located on an online entry form on the library’s website to answer eight questions about the library or, if they did not have a smart phone, could receive a hard copy of the entry form. Prizes were funded by the Broward Public Library Foundation. The contest ended in September 2012, and the winners were selected by staff members, including the Library Director and Associate Director, through a random drawing. Customers were elated to receive great prizes while learning about valuable, life-changing library services. The contest required entrants to visit a Broward County Library location in order to answer some of the the questions. This component of the contest was designed to bring participants into the libraries and to emphasize that great library services are available in the Library’s brick-and-mortar branches. Entrants had to correctly answer questions about highlighted services that included the Library’s mobile app, Broward e-Tutor (free, live online tutoring), the Library’s bi-monthly newsletter, the summer reading program, Overdrive eBooks, volunteer opportunities, and free music downloads. Once customers had completed the questions, their entries were drawn at random. If all of the questions were correct, entrants won an electronic device. Overall, 438 customer entered the contest, and the vast majority of entries were 100% correct.
The QR Quest had immediate and positive effects on usage of the Library’s online services. The scanning of Broward County Library QR codes, located on promotional posters, the Library’s newsletter and other Library promotional materials, increased 100% from Summer 2011. A year before the contest, there was an average of 400-500 monthly scans of Library QR codes. Scans now average 1200-1800 per month, with QR codes providing a cost-effective and efficient method of digital outreach to our customers. Broward County Library also received feedback from a few of the QR Quest participants stating that they learned a great deal about library services they were unaware of previously. On the Library’s Facebook page, there were numerous “likes” of QR Quest winner photos and 137 of the participating customers elected to be added to the library’s weekly email list. While the contest was considered a success, there were lessons learned during the process. The contest was promoted within Library locations, in the Library newsletter, on the Library website and on Facebook and Twitter. In the future, the Library would advertise the contest in local newspapers to reach more library non-users. Second, the Library would give away one prize each week during the contest instead of waiting until the end of the contest. The winners’ photos would be posted on Facebook each week or month (to be determined) in an effort to encourage others to enter the contest.