The barcode has been a part of our culture for over 50 years, and the commercial applications for barcodes have made them virtually unavoidable for the last 30 years. We're all familiar with how the grocery store checkout scanners read the linear UPC barcode -- "Kellog's Nutri-Grain Breakfast Bars -- $2.99. Do you have any coupons?" New developments in 2D Data Matrix barcodes make it possible to encode even more information in a tinier space -- up to 2,335 alphanumeric characters. Add to this the fact that an increasing number of smartphones can be equipped to turn the camera into an ad hoc barcode reader, and the applications for this technology start seeming pretty boundless.
Nate Hill, a librarian at Brooklyn Public Library, has been thinking about how we might use these Data Matrix codes to push the library even further into the communities we aim to serve. Hill spent last weekend creating barcodes for all the Brooklyn Public Library branches that can be used on flyers, as stand-alone stickers, or in virtually any setting where the library might want to create a portal for access to the library's website for more information. According to Hill,
In the future, with the success of the OpenLibrary project’s goal to give every book its own web page, 2D barcodes could prove useful in offering online information about any given book. The possibilities are endless. This, my friends, is our first easily accessible, consumer-driven attempt at linking the physical world to the digital world.
Your curiosity is piqued, right? Head spinning with possible applications? Get to work on generating your library's barcodes here.