Naysayers of the efficiency of QR codes always make the excuse that the popularity in Asia is due to their love of mobile devices and new technology. And that’s a problem? How can over a billion users be wrong? Well the latest QR code “fad” is the linking of codes to eBooks in the Chinese National Library for over 10 million passengers on Beijing’s subway.
The M Subway Library is a public welfare program initiated by the Beijing Metro Transportation Railway (MTR) and the National Library to provide riders with literary resources to make their commute more enjoyable and educational.
Lee Honglin, China’s deputy director of the National Library believes the program can help support culture in public spaces and inspire reading and knowledge to become a more prominent part of people’s daily lives:
“The cell phone has become such a popular mobile platform where information is quickly transmitted. We aim at promoting some knowledge through this platform. We hope to popularize some traditional culture in a more enchanting and efficient way.”
In addition to making twelve free titles available each year, the National Library will be organizing themed activities around the books. The theme of the first activity, which launched in January, is “Our Characters.”
This activity focuses on the history, inheritance and cultural meaning of 30-plus ethnic characters in China through websites and exhibitions in both the subways and National Library.
“We’ll change the themes every two to three months,” Yang Ling, spokeswoman for the MTR says. “If a passenger keeps going along with us, he or she will read over a dozen books a year.”
Beijing’s program takes cues from other cities like New York who have their own versions of underground libraries.
New York City also has a an underground branch set up inside a subway station, but the use of QR codes to bring eBooks to all commuters on the spot is an incredible service.
Diego Gopen, CEO at uQR.me (a subsidiary of Mobile Leaves Corp.), is not surprised at this latest use of dynamic QR codes:
“We’ve been helping cities around the world become “Smart Cities,” setting up QR code information hubs. Expect more of these services on commuter lines, like Belgium and their use of QR codes for commuter information. Dynamic QR codes have so many uses, cities, transportation services, government organizations and non-government organizations, music venues, as well as corporations for successful mobile marketing campaigns, are learning to use them in innovative and very useful ways.”