1. Mobile library website
Unless you have being living in a cave (with no access to internet), you know that mobile surfing on smartphones is hot! The number of libraries with mobile friendly sites is closing to a 100 by now. Everyone is predicting that in the near future, mobile computing will be big.. maybe even bigger than desktop computing by 2013 etc.
My posts analysing mobile library sites are probably some of my most popular ones, particularly What are mobile friendly library sites offering? A survey and a more recent one on mobile apps which shows the interest librarians have on this topic.
Again this is something of intense interest to my peers in the library world, and I myself have written a summary post on how this could be used in libraries.
However what little evidence and research we have on this isn't particularly encouraging. The UK libraries are in the lead for this, I believe their research shows that currently there is very low awareness of qr codes among undergraduates (less than 1%) and even lower usage.
The issue here I think is that users are essentially lazy. Getting them to take the effort to go figure out how to download a QRcode reader before they can use a function that they aren't even sure is going to be useful is probably asking too much.
Supposedly Japan is quite crazy on QRcodes, and i suppose in such a country supporting QRcodes is a no-brainer but most of us don't live in Japan :) . As much as I would like to think so , I don't think libraries can affect a societal change to suddenly cause people to become crazy about QRcodes so I think usage of QRCodes is unlikely to rise unless some drastic happens.
One possible scenario is if iPhones or android phones etc starts getting prepackaged with a QRCode reader.
Or perhaps a powerful player on the global scale like FaceBook or Google starts to push for usage of QRcodes (Google already does to some extent) and libraries can ride on this
3. SMS reference
IM/chat reference was hot in the early 2000s, and by now it's considered fairly standard. The current darling is SMS reference and the hope is that by 2020 it will be standard as well.. One very high profile library conference speaker even said something to the effect that if a library did not have sms reference it was invisible to him...
Here's my heretical thought. The rise of mobile surfing (#1 above) makes sending questions over SMS less important if not irrelevant in the long run.
If #2 is right and users start surfing on the web all the time on their mobile phones, why would they sms you, when they could just email you on their handphones? That way they would not be limited to sms length for both asking questions and receiving.
Some libraries "solve" this problem of limited length of sms answer by texting the url of a page with the answer. But doesn't this already assume the user has access to the mobile browsing? Sure he can wait until he goes to a desktop to access the page, but that kinda defeats the purpose of asking questions via mobile I think, since presumably if you can wait until you get to a desktop to get the answer, you can probably wait until you get to a desktop to ask?
Want an "instant answer"? Again a user of a phone with browsing capabilities wouldn't sms, he would rather go to a chat widget (e.g. Libraryh3lp) and use that.
Of course access to SMS will always be more universal than mobile web, but aren't libraries betting on a future where many if not most have access to mobile surfing?
To tell you the truth, I'm not sure if I really believe all that I wrote above and certainly it doesn't mean I won't try the things above (in fact some of it is currently in the works), but hey it's good sometimes to try to argue the other side.
Also while it is nice to experiment with new things, tight resources means that you might want to focus only on areas that have a fighting chance of working and adopt a wait and see attitude for others.
Of course, the real reason why I blogged is that I hope people will chime in and say , "you're wrong, it's a huge success in my library we have x% usage in y months!" which I can then use as evidence to push these projects into high priority projects. So please go ahead and tell me I'm wrong! :)