Audio tours available for Woodruff exhibition

Published 06-10-2011

QR CodeBring your smartphone when you visit the latest popular gallery exhibition at Emory University’s Woodruff Library. The display now includes a self-guided audio tour powered by QR codes – another great 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.

“Although Randy gives tours of the exhibit, not everyone can come when he’s available,” says IMLS resident librarian Chris Pollette, who recorded Gue’s narration and connected the audio clips with codes he generated from a QR code website. “This gives the more casual visitor the opportunity to gain insight on a piece that they may not have had the opportunity to do otherwise.”

The exhibition celebrates one of Atlanta’s most successful businessman 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,” Pollette says. 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 on the materials in front of them.

“This would give people a lot of flexibility, it would be easy for us to do and it would provide immediacy for those who wanted to learn more about that particular item right then,” Pollette says. 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 used, a blog hosting site that also offers QR code creation, to generate the code. You can check out two of the Woodruff exhibition codes above.

Designed by gallery director Julie Delliquanti, the exhibition will remain on view through June 30, 2011. Its original closing date was extended to accommodate more visitors.

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