Links Roundup #19

A PhotographerBlogs of Interest

Russell Stannard’s Blog is by a British educator who discusses educational technology and language learning.  He talks about various technologies useful at the college level as well as K-12.  He also has the site Teacher Training Videos, which include tutorials on a variety of useful edtech tools.  I looked at the videos for WallWisher (now Padlet), for example, and thought the tutorials were well done, though very simple in design and execution.

Crystal found another blog of interest, The BLOSSOMING-Fledgling Researcher.  The description is “A recovering writing-phobe’s musings on academic writing methodology, academic writing software, and the psychology of post-graduate level writing. Research and writing DO get better. LET’S DO THIS!”  It includes pages for Starting and Staying Organized, Accountability/Focus, Research Design Aids/Tips, and more.  The content looks excellent.


Stormboard is a brainstorming app covered in Free Technology for Teachers.  Allows an unlimited number of boards with 5 collaborators on each.  Includes templates for use in education, and allows sticky notes, images, videos, drawings, and word documents on boards.

Citation Tools

New tools for citing information turn up all the time.  Free Technology for Teachers has a roundup of a few of the latest with 5 Tools that Help Students Organize Research and Create Bibliographies.  I like that a few of them do more than help with citations.  On my library’s guide to Citation Styles, Tutorials, and Tools I have created separate pages for tools for undergraduates and graduate students/faculty, as they differ in needs.  The undergrad page list tools that are easiest to use and automatically capture information, while the grad/faculty page offers the most full-featured tools.

Computers in Libraries 2014 Conference

If you enjoyed our recap of CIL 2014 and want more, check out the other bloggers and  archived twitter feed.  The conference hashtag, by the way, was #cildc.  Some of the best blogging came from Jill Hurst-Wahl (loved her presentation, by the way, on brainstorming) in her Digitization 101 blog, and Don Hawkins (not mentioned on the bloggers page), who works for Information Today and blogs about their conferences.

Distraction Cessation

This might be one to share with your students, or use yourself if you are working in a noisy area – GradHacker post on Eight Noise Apps to Battle Distraction.

LifeHacker has a post on Five Best Distraction Free Writing Tools.  Not only discusses each tool, but gives results of a poll with votes for the best.  Tools covered were FocusWriter, WriteMonkey, OmmWriter, Q10, and WriteRoom.  It was a 2010 article, but referred to by a recent article on another tool, ZenPen.

Email Productivity

LifeHacker has a good tip in Treat Your Email Like Tetris: One Action at a Time.  It recommends deciding whether to reply, delete, delegate, or save on each email before moving on to the next one (basically the Getting Things Done philosophy).  I know my email gets clogged with items I plan to go back to later, and this is excellent advice to help me with a too-crowded inbox.

Jill Duffy has another excellent Get Organized column for those of you who use GMail.  Tricks for a Better Gmail Inbox.  At the bottom, she has links to other columns on managing email.  Note also that she is offering her Get Organized ebook for free.


There have been a slew of articles comparing Evernote and OneNote lately, due to OneNote now being offered for free.  Preston Gralla has a Computerworld article OneNote vs. Evernote: A Personal Take on Two Great Note-taking Apps, in which he compares his experience using both and discusses what he thinks are the strengths and weaknesses of each.

And LifeHacker jumped into the comparison of OneNote and Evernote game with LifeHacker Faceoff: OneNote Versus Evernote.  Also a good roundup of pros and cons of each platform.  All these articles are not too repetitive – they all organize their discussion points and features differently.

Evernote OCR: A Quick Look is a longish post whose purpose is to point out that Evernote OCR (optical character recognition) isn’t perfect yet, but still useful.

Jamie Todd Rubin has a useful post in his Going Paperless series Quick Tip:  Editing Scanned PDFs Directly in Evernote.  For now this is only in the Mac version.

TabTimes has a review of Microsoft OneNote for the iPad, and finds it an excellent product.

Office Blogs has a post OneNote for Android Update: Create Notebooks, Sections, and More.  Screenshots included.

Just for Fun:  Microsoft OneNote Team Creates a Parody of Les Miserables Song Celebrating Their OneNote Mac Launch.

YouTube Preview Image

Getting Things Done (GTD)

Lifehacker published an article Productivity 101: A Primer to the Getting Things Done (GTD) Philosophy.  Excellent introduction to GTD.

Google Docs and Sheets Add-Ons

ProfHacker has a blog post All Things Google: Add-Ons for Docs and Sheets, which discusses Add-Ons and how they work.  They reference a blog post from Google on the topic, and one of the add-ons is academic gold – the Easybib bibliography generator.

Group Project Management

ProfHacker has a post Software and Services for Managing Group Tasks.  Author Konrad Lawson mentions that he has used Producteev and lists the features he likes, but also lists features that one might consider before deciding on a group task management software.

Microsoft Office

Microsoft has released a free mobile app for iOS and Android which allows viewing and some editing via OneDrive, which does not require an Office 365 subscription.

Office for iPad Review: Microsoft Delivers Three Outstanding Apps – review from TabTimes.

Online Course Apps

Coursera, one of the sites offering online courses or MOOCs, now has iOS and Android apps.  My place of work offers courses, including its classes for an online master’s degree (not free but less expensive than an in-campus course) and those courses are listed.

PDF Management

TabTimes has an article 6 Best Android and iPad Apps for Converting Files to PDFs.  Some apps can convert all sorts of things, including emails, web pages, and more.  TabTimes does have a newsletter that is specifically about tablets in education, which is my source for this article.

Robert Ambrogi’s LawSites blog has a post that reviews the software program Nuance Power PDF Advanced.  The post describes the features available, gives pros and cons.  The upshot is that Power PDF Advanced is a well-designed program at a third of the price of Adobe Acrobat.


The ever-useful, ever-organized Jill Duffy has a wonderful article in PCMag55 Apps that Can Make You More Productive.  Covers quite a few I had not heard of.

Scott Hanselman’s Complete List of Productivity Tips is a blog post about a talk Hanselman gave.  Has a lot of good productivity tips that in themselves aren’t anything new, but are a complete workflow strategy that makes a lot of sense.  Hanselman is a programmer with Microsoft’s Web Platform Team, but his blog contents and opinions are his own.  The blog has a category for Productivity.

GradHacker has another excellent post, this one by Emily VanBuren, Taking It One Step At a Time: Breaking Apart Big Tasks.  It discusses both concepts and tools for managing large tasks by scheduling smaller component tasks and keeping to the schedule.

 Reading Skills

Ari Miesel has an article in Daily Beast The Best Apps for Developing Sherlock Holmes-like Reading Skills.  Apps discussed include IFTTT, Feedly, Evernote, Blinkist, Rooster, SoundGecko, and Daily Lit.  Note that not all of these are free.

 Task Automation

Zapier is a task automation service similar to IFTTT. has an introduction to it, Tool for Journalists:  Zapier, for Automating Web Apps.  The free version includes a lot more services available than IFTTT, but limits you to five recipes.



Computers In Libraries 2014: Day 3

CIL14_SpeakMary Reports:
The theme of hacking the library continued with the keynote speaker for the third and final day of the conference.  The speaker was Mike Lydon of Street Plans,  a consulting company whose expertise is in urban planning,  especially improving spaces for bicycle paths  as well as other community and neighborhood efforts to make their spaces better,  more people oriented.   Lyndon is not a librarian,  and freely admitted to having little knowledge of what librarians do.   What he brought to the conference,  with great enthusiasm and numerous examples,  was a commitment to making things better,  to work within communities,  preferably grassroots organizations.   His message to librarians is to be  part of making communities better.   He quoted a saying that cities are the original Internet and that if cities are the Internet,  libraries are the server.
Crystal’s report:

Attended a couple of really good sessions today. Most were imparting information at warp speed and I began depending more and more on the slide presentations loaded onto the CIL site. We are being told that these are not available to non-conference viewers, so we promise to spend time in future posts to more fully explore many of the resources those slides impart.

That being said, there were two sessions I particularly want to discuss.

Dealing with Data: From Research to Visualization
This session had two separate speakers. Cheryl Ann Peltier from Nova Southeastern discussed free (mostly) tools for every step along the research process. Her slides listed a number of alternative tools.
Her number one choices included:
Google Scholar to identify the research problem, Zotero for reviewing the research literature, Many Eyes for conceptualizing / planning, Evernote for data /information collection and DeDoose (not free) for both data analysis and quality control.

The second half of this session was on the topic of data visualization by Christopher Belter from LAC Group at NOAA Central Library. Chris said to be patient with the data visualization process: it takes time and trial and error to achieve a representation that effectively imparts your message. He warned that generally up to 70% of his time was spent on wrangling data, not the actual visualization. The key to keep in mind is to figure out the story you need your data to tell. Chris showed us how the same set of data could impart different messages with different data visualization methods.

Tip:  Chris said he had heard very good things about the Data Visualization MOOC from Indiana University for people who would like more information on this topic.

Hack the Online Classroom! Inject the Library!
This session was also a combination of two speaker groups.
Elliott Smith talked about his project using edX Edge. This was not a platform used at Georgia Tech, so it was somewhat difficult to follow.  He discussed his experience of using edX Edge to shift from a paper-based process to an online platform.

The other two speakers, Alicia Virtue (Santa Rosa Junior College) and Eric Frierson (EBSCO) talked about using the EDS API to make reading lists on course management systems interact seamlessly with library resources. I found this very cool!  Mary also had a session discussing this exciting possibility. Check out her session review for more info.
My favorite session of the day was Integrating Content into Course and Management Tools.   Athena Hoeppner and Shea Silverman from the University of Central Florida (UCF has one of my favorite ever library Web sites) and Adam Traub of the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) presented on their respective Library components into Course or learning management systems.
Silverman spoke from UCF.   Each of the systems had features I really liked,  and there may be some cross fertilization with each taking ideas from the other and perhaps offering their systems open source.   My favorite feature of the UCF system was that faculty can go into the page for their course,  search EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS)  from within the page,  and with one click of a button add a link to a licensed resource to their course page.   What I didn’t like was that the library information was generic – did not offer,  for example,  a link to the information to the subject liaison for that discipline.  The EDS search works via the EBSCOhost API.   Their library-to-course system will work for any LMS that uses LTI.
Rat’s system does offer custom pages,  and presents a page with a Summon search box at the top,  a link to a subject or course guide under that,  reserves information under that,  and the librarian profile box from LibGuides on the right.   My place of work has been considering how to integrate library resources into Sakai for a few years and hasn’t quite gotten there yet,  so this was all very useful information.

Crystal and I had our presentation,  Rethinking and Retooling Academic Research,  during the last session of the last day of the conference.   Therefore we were not expecting many people,  thinking everyone had left to catch a plane,  train,  or automobile.   We were gratified by the number of people who came and who then stayed.  Our message was received very well, and we were thrilled with the feedback.

We appreciate that the Computers in Libraries conference gave us this chance to present our ideas that you have been seeing as a reader of the blog.   It has been a great conference,  and there were some presentations we plan to discuss in more depth at a later point in time.

Computers in Libraries, Day 2

CIL14_SpeakCrystal’s View of Day 2:

Every day at CIL begins with a keynote where we get to hear from notable people in the industry. Tuesday’s Keynote: Hacking strategies for library innovation by Mary Lee Kennedy, Chief Library Officer for the New York Public Library.

Kennedy focused on four basic concepts:

1. Determine what skills / services your library uniquely offers

. 2. Identify target areas of opportunity in your wheelhouse.

3. Change / pilot new ideas / assess their success and adjust

4. Have fun

Crystal’s favorite quote of this session: “Libraries are the delivery room for ideas” Thomas Jefferson

Kennedy introduced several interesting services and activities that NYPL has offered.

In an effort to make knowledge more accessible, the Iibrary’s map warp effort attempts to add more dynamic layers of value to a simple flat map:

They also have a very nice graphical knowledge mapping tool for archival data:

Crystal’s favorite special program was the idea of gathering a group of armchair scientists together to participate in one of the activities at Zooniverse: This citizen science site has been an expansion from galaxy zoo project…..Planet Hunters is part of this website. Here, the public can search astronomical data to help identify new exoplanets.  Very cool stuff for science geeks!

Crystal’s choice for top session today! Stop Being Generic: On Demand & On Target by Julian Aiken (Yale Law Library) & Chad Boeninger (Ohio University Libraries)

This is my second opportunity to hear Chad and I’m a new fan of his amazing business resource website ( blog). Yesterday I went to his WordPress session.  I didn’t blog on that session because it was more WordPress-tech. If you are interested in knowing more about that session here: /2014/04/07/rock-librarys-content-wordpress/

Julian started the session by discussing the new services now offered by Yale Law Library: Scan on demand: They offer a 24 hour turnaround for any article or book chapter.

Collect on demand: They track ILL requests and fill at least 90% of all faculty requests.

Deliver on demand: They will mail anywhere in U.S. and Canada. Not yet highly utilized so stay tuned for news on scalability of this.

Chad talked about his reference blog on business. He made a very insightful comment about a problem that students have with their research. They have significant difficulty applying the general pathfinder instruction to their specific project needs. I think this highlights a real disconnect between what the librarian thinks she is communicating and what the student can later achieve.

Chad’s answer to this disconnect is to blog any specific research question he receives showing very specific instructions on solving this research problem with library databases. He frequently makes video tutorials on the topic which he then loads to YouTube which makes it highly findable via Google, which we all know is the students’ go-to place.  Meeting our users where they are…Seems like I’ve heard that before!

Mary VIew of Day 2:
Day two is off and running – and I do mean running (or wheeling, in my case, since I am using an electric scooter) as we have events scheduled today from 7:30 am until 9:00 pm. The convention is good about scheduling breaks though, at least some of which they hope you will spend in the exhibitors hall.
The first panel I attended today, after the keynote, was Top Trends in School Libraryland: Perfect Storms or Sweet Spots? The speaker was Joyce Valenza, with whom Crystal and I did a Google Hangout recently.
Joyce illustrated that while many are in despair over the state of school libraries, there are exciting developments that are working for them now. This is a moment to hack the ways librarians serve their users, and Dr. Valenza talked about services or concepts to hack and the tools to use to hack them. She is a dynamic speaker, but needed about twice the time to get through her 300 or so slides!
She mentioned Dave Lancke’s quote that “a lack of imagination is killing libraries”, and that hackers believe that things can be better and never stop innovating. She also mentioned that students learn best when engaged. She also talked about a number of tools that sound both interesting and useful, more than I can cover, so I suggest taking a look at her slides for the full flavor of a fun as well as useful presentation. They are available from the Computers in Libraries 2014 website under Presentations.
The second session I attended today was Using the Cloud and Google Apps for Better Staff UX, by three librarians from the Gwinnett County Public Library system in metro Atlanta (Crystal’s home Library system, of which she speaks well). The three speakers were Michael Casey, Christopher Baker, and David Smith. Their system includes 15 libraries and 300 employees, and when faced with an expensive upgrade to their Microsoft SharePoint and Exchange system, investigated alternative options.

They decided to go with Google Apps for Education, they were very happy with it for several reasons, including:
(1)   Being in the cloud and on Google’ servers meant less technical support on their end

(2)   The fixed costs were much less.

(3)   Google had a good training page.

(4)   Fewer silos because the apps are in one information ecosystem which also led to

(5)   More collaborative work across the system.
In sum, they believe they wound up with a more collaborative, open, and accessible system.
The last session attended on Tuesday was by Gary Price, of INFOdocket. He was a last minute substitute for a speaker who had to cancel, and as always, gave a great presentation. He talked a lot about security and privacy issues as these seem more imperiled than ever. For example, he discussed using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) as these are encrypted. He also discussed a variety of resources in a number of categories which, while the might not be set up as educational sites do, none the less, are interesting and educational in a broader sense. He showed a price tracking site and a flight tracking site as examples. The full list of sites is available at

Stay tuned here for the exciting conclusion of the Computers In Libraries Conference tomorrow!

Computers in Libraries: Day 1

Here we are!  D.C.!

Good evening!   Crystal and I managed to make it from Atlanta to Washington DC without much trouble… although it took so long at baggage claim I had visions of doing our presentation in the ratty clothes I traveled in!

We attended the games, gadgets and makerspaces on Sunday night. Crystal’s favorite takeaway: I think students / patrons would find these very cool. Surround sound/filters out sound from outside the egg. Good for viewing videos, scype calls, phone interviews, recording multimedia. Pricey, but can pay postage both ways and try free for 90 days.

Monday morning the convention started.   The official hashtag is #cildc,  by the way,  if you want to follow along.   The Monday keynote speaker was Dave Weinberger.   The title of his talk was Hack Libraries: Platforms? Playgrounds? Prototypes?  The gist was that information is becoming more open and that that fact makes discussions and creativity blossom in many unexpected directions.   Libraries are mostly shut off from these conversations,  and without finding ways to be a part of them will be bypassed and irrelevant.

 Weinberger’ next major point involved the Swiss Army knife.   He showed a picture of one that is about a foot long,  weighs seven pounds,  and is loaded with such charming features as a fish cleaning tool and a laser sighting tool for a gun.   It will set you back a mere $1200 on Amazon,  at which point you will have a paperweight,  as it is so cluttered it is impossible to use.   So he asked,  now that linked data is finally becoming a reality,  what data do we want to link?   He suggested a new type of filtering,  that we filter forward by anticipating user’s needs.

He works with Harvard’s library and mentioned some of the things they are doing.   One that was heavily tweeted was the Awesome return box -  if the user thinks one book is really good,  they return it to the Awesome box.   They haven’t hooked those statistics up to the library catalog yet,  but are keeping track.   Also at Harvard is Stack View,  an open source software program I discussed in a post earlier this year.   Besides giving an idea of the book’s physical size and popularity,  it also connects to the Wikipedia page for the book (if any) and any available NPR story on it.

Now we can start building apps that utilize linked data,  and data is going to get much smarter much faster.  Librarians have more information than anyone on the planet,  so we can make connections using our expertise and draw in users to share their own expertise.   We can guide people to new sources,  both those that agree with them and those that challenge them.

Mary says: I went to a couple of other interesting sessions today.  The first was Enabling Innovation,  by Jill Hurst Wahl from Syracuse University.   She discussed brainstorming,  both rules and tools.   Her slides are available on the CIL site,  so I won’t go into too many of the rules… though one of the most important ones is to have only one speaker at a time.   She also talked about four kinds of brainstorming (1) Role Storming,  wherein the group approaches the topic as if they were a historical or fictional character -  Darth Vader,  for example.  (2)  Long List – the idea here is quantity,  trying to get 100 ideas in 15 minutes,  because the first ideas tend to be the least original and get better the longer the list gets.   (3)  Opposites – take the viewpoint opposite the expected one; and (4) Brand Storming – similar to Role Storming but from the viewpoint of a brand,  such as Apple or Disney rather than the viewpoint of a character.   Each table in the room then chose one of these four,  spent 15 minutes with a topic and used one of the four methods.   My table chose Role Storming and so brainstormed the kind of library Lady Gaga would design,  such ideas as special collections including video and images,  for fashion,  costuming,  and makeup,  a consortium with the Muppet Library,  a design full of unexpected features,  maybe something like a room filled with different textures to experience.   Then various tables reported out.   The whole program was a lot of fun and I plan to bring these ideas to my place of work.

The next panel I attended was Designing for Collaboration in Digital Information Environments, which was fascinating.   A high school librarian and English teacher,  working with a Rutgers University communications professor,  took an honors 9th grade English class and had them work in groups.   They collaborated using Google Drive,  and had to comment on each other’s work in threads.   Another assignment would be to write briefly but daily about their experience of the process of doing research – for example,  what they found difficult that day.   They got almost immediate feedback from the librarian and teacher,  who were treated as equals in the course.

Crystal says:

Super Searcher Tips by Mary Ellen Bates. Mary Ellen Bates always rocks any session I am lucky enough to see! I like to think I’m a pretty good searcher, but Mary Ellen always proves how much I have yet to learn. I couldn’t begin to share all I learned, but here are a few favorites: 1. Interested in searching social media for topics?      Try  It can adjust results by how often a link has been retweeted or how popular the search topic is via Facebook likes,etc.      An alternative is

2. Looking to keep your search unaffected by “smart” browsers who pre-filter your results based on prior searching?     Try

Crystal’s favorite quote today:    From Rock Your Library’s Content with WordPress.  Chad Haefele advised that is “free like puppies, not free like beer!  You still have a responsibility to take care of it after you get it.”

 Th-th-that’s it folks,  for today.   Stay tuned for more excitement!

On our way to Computers in Libraries 2014!


Mary and I are off to the Computers In Libraries conference in D.C.  We will be blogging our experiences at the conference next week, so stay tuned here for all the details.

If you are attending the conference as well, please stop by and see us at our presentation on Wednesday afternoon.  We’d love to meet our readers!

C305 – Rethinking & Retooling Academic Research
3:45 PM – 4:30 PM
Crystal Renfro, Faculty Engagement Librarian, Georgia Institute of Technology
Mary Axford, Faculty Engagement Librarian, Georgia Institute of Technology

One of the issues the increasingly digital academy faces is that students are not able to successfully find relevant resources because they do not “understand the language of academic research” or are not familiar with the topic and field of their research. Renfro and Axford, authors of, outline several new programs at the Georgia Tech Library, including the popular blog series, A Year to Improved Productivity for Librarians and Academic Researchers, which connects librarians with the academic community in new and vital ways.