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.

Links Roundup #18

A PhotographerBlog of Interest

My Google Alert for Evernote just turned up a blog that may be of interest, called The Digital Researcher.

The Digital Researcher is a resource for writers and researchers who want to make the most of the tools now available. We bring you news, reviews and tutorials on all the latest developments, and also give you an opportunity to share your experiences with the rest of the community.

This site is maintained by me, Catherine Pope. I’m a publisher, PhD researcher, and technologist (roughly in that order).

So far there have been a number of clearly written posts on topics such as Reading and Annotating Journal Articles in Evernote, Writing Very Long Documents with Scrivener, and more.  The blog has a search engine, subscriptions by email or RSS feed, and a list of resources.  Brief list so far, but divided into the categories Brainstorming, General, Productivity and Software.

Creativity vs. Order

LifeHacker has an interesting post Why Creative Geniuses Often Keep a Messy Desk, that says that this is often true.  Given my messy desk, I like to think this is true, anyway.  ;-).  It mentions a study showing that those with messier environments tend to be more creative and more risk taking, and suggests that one can turn this to advantage by keeping a messier desk when trying to generate ideas, but when trying to be more productive, and/or act on a specific idea, it can help to clean up your environment.

Digital Portfolios

Creating digital portfolios has gotten much easier.  They allow students to gather together the digital projects they have created, so gives them something a potential employer could look at.  Take a look at this article from Free Technology for Teachers, called 5 Good Options for Creating Digital Portfolios.

Email Optimization

LifeHacker has a post Use the First-In-First-Out Rule to Keep Email Inbox in Shape (title is almost as long as the post!) which makes a valid point that by organizing your emails by oldest first it gives you more incentive to deal with those emails rather than letting them get stale.

LifeHacker, while strongly recommending that you keep your email and to-do lists separate, also has an article on an app that combines the two with GTD principles.  The app is called IQTELL.

Educational Technology

The 2014 Horizon Report from NMC (New Media Consortium) and Educause is now available:

This eleventh edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in education. Six key trends, six significant challenges, and six emerging technologies are identified across three adoption horizons over the next one to five years, giving campus leaders and practitioners a valuable guide for strategic technology planning.

As many of you know, this is one of the most influential reports on ed tech in higher education.


Jamie Todd Rubin has another good Going Paperless column Achievement Unlocked! Using Evernote to Track Achievements.  As usual, his columns show excellent organizational ability.  I had created a notebook in Evernote for my annual profile, but have not nearly been as organized about it as he has.

14 Ways to Get More Out of Evernote, by Kevin Smith, has a good rounup of some of Evernote’s most useful features.

Cybrary Man’s Educational Web Sites has a page of links about Evernote.  Looks like a great list, though with the caveat that Evernote changes so fast and so often that articles get out of date very quickly.  Thanks to Crystal for the link.

Jamie Todd Rubin’s Going Paperless column has another useful Evernote tip in Append to Existing Notes in Evernote via Email.  I love this tip, because I use the email to Evernote feature quite often, and have sometimes wished to be able to append rather than create a new note.

Springpad is another notebook software that I have not used.  LifeHacker reports that it has opened a virtual store with free templates one can use for to-do lists, travel planning, and more.

Huzzah!  IFTTT now has a Microsoft OneNote channel.

CNET reports that Microsoft OneNote Arrives as Mac, Windows Freebie.  No longer are you required to buy Office to get OneNote.  Does not have all the features of the Office software, but has most, and is adding new features.  It is now in a better position to take on Evernote.

Author John David Head has written one of the best articles comparing features of OneNote and Evernote I’ve ever seen.  OneNote vs. Evernote – No, Make That OneNote AND Evernote, does an in-depth comparison of the pros and cons of each from a writer who uses each.  The article is also up-to-date with the just announced features of OneNote.


IFTTT now has a Sunlight Foundation Channel.  This is great news for me, as one of my liaison departments is Public Policy.  The channel includes suggested recipes so that one can get notifications of bills going through Congress or laws passed.  The recipes includes things like get an email when the President signs a law, text me when Congress schedules a vote on a bill, etc. Since what government does affects most of us, this could be very handy.


Many libraries have gotten involved with makerspaces.  For academic libraries, one question to consider is whether professors want such spaces or will create assignments for students using them.  So I find the ProfHacker post Lego and Making Things interesting, as an indication that professors are indeed thinking about making things as a part of scholarship.

Mind Mapping

Free Technology for Teachers has a useful article Ten Good Online Tools for Creating Mind Maps.  Discusses the features of each.

PDF Management

TabTimes seems to be having a series of the format some number Best Android and iOS apps for some productivity task.  This one is 6 Best Android and iPad Apps for Converting Files to PDFs.

Productivity Apps

These 11 Apps are the Key to Productivity is a post from Sidin Vadukut, a London-based freelance writer.  It is interesting because it mentions several apps I am not aware of and also because he gives a detailed description of his workflow.  I don’t think his workflow would be one I would follow, but might fit your style well.  Apps mentioned are GMail, Google Calendar, Trello, Evernote,, Ulysses III, Daedalus Touch, Triage (which now seems to be MindCloud), Freemind (note:  it is on a Wiki, you have not been redirected to Wikipedia), Brainstormer, and IFTTT.  Note that some of these are iOS only.

Search Engines

NoodleTools has a great list of search engines categorized by the type of information being sought (I need to understand the scope of my topic, for example).  Very nicely done, although it mentions Intute several times and it hasn’t been updated since July 2011, and I don’t think that Infomine is being updated much either.  Sadly organizations who provided such wonderful services were badly hit by budget cuts during the Great Recession.

Task Management/To-do Lists

Tab Times has a useful article on 6 Best Android and iPad Apps to Keep You On Task.  The 6 apps are Todoist, SwiftKey Note, SimpleNote, Trello, WorkFlowy, and ListBook.

LifeHacker jumps in with an article Five Best To-Do List Managers.  The twist is that these were voted on by LifeHacker readers.  Apps mentioned are Google Keep,, Wunderlist, Todoist, and HabitRPG (which is structured like a video game).


ProfHacker has a useful roundup of their previous posts on Twitter –  From the Archives: Using Twitter.  Includes links to posts that introduce Twitter, how to use it in various ways for academics, including teaching and presenting at conferences.

Crystal pointed me to the Twitter feed for Evernote Teachers.  It may be primarily for K-12, but at a quick glance seems to have tweets also useful for academia.