Campus News

June 17, 2011

Library uses QR codes for customized tour

"The Future Belongs to the Discontented: The Life & Legacy of Robert W. Woodruff" has been extended through June 30.

The display now includes a self-guided audio tour powered by QR codes.

Bring your smartphone when you visit the latest gallery exhibition at Woodruff Library. The display now includes a self-guided audio tour powered by QR (quick response) codes – another partnership of technology and archival material from Emory's Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL).

Eight audio clips narrated by curator Randy Gue have been added to "The Future Belongs to the Discontented: The Life & Legacy of Robert W. Woodruff," presented by The Coca-Cola Company. Visitors can use their smartphones to scan the QR codes scattered throughout the exhibition in the Schatten Gallery and listen to the audio clips at their own pace. Gue has given many tours during the exhibition's run, but the QR-coded clips are ideal for unscheduled visitors when he's not available for guided tours.

The exhibition celebrates one of Atlanta's most successful businessmen and its most generous philanthropist. It includes correspondence, personal and business papers, scrapbooks, photographs, newspaper articles and film clips from the Woodruff papers — a collection that continues to be one of the most distinctive and heavily used in MARBL. The approximately 200 items on display chronicle Woodruff's significant influence on The Coca-Cola Company, Emory University and the city of Atlanta.

"Due to copyright issues with the archival materials, we were trying to find a way to promote the exhibition without displaying the images," says librarian Chris Pollette, who recorded Gue's narration and paired the audio clips with codes he generated from a QR code website.

Flexible presentations

In discussions with Gue, the two considered using a podcast, but felt it was too inflexible – the five-part exhibition allows visitors to walk through in whatever order they wish, but a podcast would delineate a specified order. QR codes would connect visitors with on-the-spot presentations about the materials in front of them.

Woodruff Library already uses QR codes to help patrons find books in the stacks, so the idea to use the codes for a gallery audio tour made sense as another way to use existing technology, he says.

Pollette generated the codes through, a blog hosting site that also offers QR code creation. You can check out two of the Woodruff exhibition codes here.

Designed by gallery director Julie Delliquanti, the exhibition will remain on view through June 30. Its original closing date was extended to accommodate more visitors.

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