Discipline-specific Tools Series: Digital Humanities, pt. 2 – Literature

Illuminated ManuscriptThis is the second in my series of posts on tools for different disciplines.  The first was on the digital humanities (DH) and covered general resources for getting started in DH.  I planned for this second post to be more about DH as it relates to literature, and will try to keep it so, but I have run into some problems,  which I will tell you about because those problems shape this article.

The first problem is that, for a relatively new topic, there is so much out there!  I could probably find enough to write on for a year!  However, it means that there are many good resources that I either did not find or don’t have space to cover.

The second problem is that DH is called DH for a reason.  The humanities are quite intertwined with each other.  Literature and history overlap quite a bit as in the history of a great literary figure or the impact of a book or author on historical events – for example, the impact of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin on the U.S. Civil War.  As the digital humanities have progressed, it seems that the tools for one overlap with the tools for the other.  Timelines, mapping, text encoding, textual analysis, etc. are used by both literary studies and history – and for other hunanities/social science disciplines. Therefore, I am going to start by discussing some directories of tools.specific to digital humanities (especially if they have a lot of tools for literary studies), then give some examples to illustrate uses of the tools.

As always, the first recommendation is for Bamboo DiRT, an extensive directory of tools in many categories that was established for DH scholars (though is useful for all academic researchers).  We’ve covered DiRT before, so won’t discuss it more now.

Next there are a couple of directories that were developed by professors and students in DH classes, and that have influenced each other.  My favorite of the two is Digital Humanities Resources for Student Project-Building, curated by Alan Liu.  It has pages for Guides, Tutorials, Tools, Examples, and Data Collections and Datasets.  The front page gives the scope:  “This selection is not intended to be comprehensive and is under continual development.  Selections are biased toward free tools or tools with generous trial periods available for student use”.  All of the pages are well done.  It is the tools page of most interest, however, and it is well-organized and easy to read.  It starts by listing other directories of tools, then lists selected tools in the categories Animation & Storyboarding, Audio Tools; Authoring/Annotation; Content Management Systems; Crowdsourcing; Design; Exhibition/Collection; Mapping; Modeling & Simulation; Network/Social Network Analysis; Statistics; Text Analysis; Text Collation; Text Preparation; Topic Modeling; Video; Video and Film Analysis; Visual Programming; Visualization (with subcategories General; Diagrams & Graphs; Infographics; Network viz; Text viz; Time Lines; and Twitter viz); and Deformance Tools.  A red checkmark by a tool indicates “Currently a tool that is prevalent, canonical, or has “buzz” in the digital humanities community” while a blue check mark indicates “Other tools with high power or general application (some caveats may apply for scholarly use)“.  Each tool has a sentence-long description, and there are even links to tutorials for a few of them.  Excellent site!

The similar page mentioned above is Digital Textualtity Resource Pages, created by Kim Knight and students in her Digital Textuality classes.  The pages below the top one are:  Text Production Resources Index; Visualization Resources Index; Image Resources Index; Sound Resources Index; and Video and Animation Resources Index.  Each of those pages follows the same format of first offering examples, then further reading/information, and lastly the list of tools.  Most of the tool names are links with a red checkmark overlaid with “Reviewed”.  The link for the tool name then goes to a review of that tool.  Most of the tool listings have a sentence-long description of the tool and a link to the tool’s website.  The reviews may be the most valuable part of the site, as the few existing directories of tools mostly lack that excellent feature.

Another directory of tools is TAPoR (which stands for Text Analysis Portal for Research), a collaboration between several Canadian groups, and is often referenced by DH scholars.  “TAPoR is a gateway to the tools used in sophisticated text analysis and retrieval.”  Further self-description includes:

With TAPoR 2.0 you can:

  • Discover text manipulation, analysis, and visualization tools
  • Discover historic tools
  • Read tool reviews and recommendations
  • Learn about papers, articles and other sources about specific tools
  • Tag, comment, rate and review collaboratively

The front page has a “Featured Tool” rotating spotlight, with boxes underneath for Popular Tools, User Recommended Tools, and Random Tools.  In the upper right is the category breakdown for the tools with a number beside each category that is the number of tools listed in each.  The categories are All; New; Concording; Miscellaneous; Statistical; Text Gathering; Reviewed; Popular; Editing; Search; Text Cleaning; and Visualization.  Each tool entry has the name of the tool, a link to its site, a link to its author(s), and a paragraph description.  To the left is a screen shot of the tool in action.  Clicking on the screen shot will bring up the review, which is the above information plus a 3 column table with more information. Under the Documentation heading are links to its documentation page, date created, and latest update.  The next column is labeled Attributes and includes background processing, ease of use, popularity, type of analysis, type of license, warning, and whether it is web usable or not.  The last column is for user-supplied tags.  Below the table is a space for comments, which may include ratings.  Personally, I think the user design of the site would be improved by having the review as a link under the links to the site and author(s) rather than a link from the screen shot.  Another problem is that many of the tools listed are historical and no longer active.  While I am all for history (having a couple of degrees in the subject), the historical tools should be more clearly marked and a category added for active.  Another possibility might be having a star by the name of each active tool.  Even in the category New there are a couple of historical tools, which might confuse some users looking for current tools.    Otherwise TAPoR is a marvelous resource for scholars looking for tools relating to textual analysis.

A llisting of tool directories can be rather dry.  However, the results of using the tools themselves can illustrate how these tools serve scholarship.

One example is Lincoln Logarithms from Emory University.  It uses four different tools to analyze a corpus of 57 of the sermons preached following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  The four tools, with a description, screenshot, and outcome, are listed on separate pages:  Text Mining with Voyant; Topic Analysis with MALLET; Visualizing with Paper Machines; and Mapping with Viewshare.  Each page is not lengthy, but gives a good example of what each tool can do and what information they provide.

Lincoln Logarithms Website

Another example is Literary New Orleans, a WordPress site that maps New Orleans neighborhoods.  The map has pictures of authors and filmmakers whose work depicts New Orleans.  Click on the pictures and two boxes pop up.  One has the artist and his/her work, and the other lists secondary works about the artist.  Underneath the map is a timeline of the artists.

Literary New Orleans MapNext in this series weill be a post on Digital Humanties with a focus on tools used in history.  Please add comments on tools you have found useful!






Content Curation Tools 1: ScoopIt!

This is the second in an intermittent series of posts I plan to write on the topic of content curation. You can see the first post introducing the content curation concept here.


Official Logo for Scoop.it! Check this awesome tool out at http://www.scoop.it/

Today I’d like to continue our discussion by exploring one of the more popular tools for content curation: Scoop.it!.

Leanna Johnson (Learning with Technology)  states, “In a culture of content overload, members that provide great content to their audience will be recognized leaders in network communities.” From our position as academic librarians, we not only have to think about the way we share our insights from our research to our own networks, we also have a role in carrying this message and tool expertise to the faculty and students of our university as we help them to become more effective researchers and networkers in their disciplines.

So if providing great content is critical in our networked world, what are the best tools to use for our content? The answer of choice used to be simply writing a blog. This is still a valuable way to discuss topics in depth; however, for many, the appeal for a vehicle or vehicles to pass along valuable content quickly and easily is strong. Scoop.it! appeals to these individuals on many fronts:

• It is very visual, with scoops actually showing the graphic of the original source along with a portion of the source content giving it a sort of magazine-like feel.
• It is very easy and users can begin scooping information within minutes.
• The structure of topics allows the curator the ability to group items of interest together into meaningful collections.
• It is social and socially connected. Not only can users with accounts follow other curator’s topics, they can suggest items to other curators and re-scoop items from other boards onto their own boards. Scoop.it also can connect their topics with their twitter, WordPress, Linkedin, Google+ and Yammer accounts (just to name a few) and simultaneously post to all their networks at once.
• It is free… if you can limit your needs to just two main topics, and only connect to a maximum of two social media accounts. (There are also for fee Pro, Business and Educators versions)
• Individual Topics all have their own permanent URL, making RSS feeds possible.
• It follows the recommender model with a search feature that can(and should!) be carefully customized by the curator to specific search terms, sites, twitter feeds, videos, etc so as to allow only the most appropriately targeted items to be filtered through for consideration.
• The bookmarklet makes scooping items from the web quick and painless.

I have two Scoop.it topics myself. I will freely admit that I was originally treating Scoop.it like a bookmarking application on steroids. In the beginning, I rarely added any “insight” to my scoops. Since I liked looking at the topics of other scoopers and tended to go to the source document of an interesting scoop, I was mostly using Scoop.it as a recommender service and holding place for what I discovered. This is NOT content curation; it is more content aggregation. Content curation requires that valuable insight be passed along with the original scoop item. I listed a few of my favorite scoop.it curators at the end of this post so you could see how the experienced content creators really use Scoop.it as a tool. That being said, I have now begun adding comments regarding why I was scooping a particular item as well as some key highlights to my Academic Workflow topic.  So, I’m learning and evolving right along with the rest of you.

Who else among our readers have been using Scoop.it? Share your topic links, tips and experiences with the rest of us. Also, a question that I have asked several other curators, but not yet really gotten an answer that would work for me: What tool DO you use as your content aggregator until you have time to read items and make insightful comments on them?

I hope to continue this series on Content Curation in the coming months. There are a few books on the topic I’d like to review (once I have a chance to finish them!), and a few other tools I’d like to cover from the aspect of using them for the purpose of content curation. What would you like to hear about? Send us your ideas and I’ll do my best to try to address them in future posts.


A Few Excellent Scoop.it curators to follow as you get started:

Kenneth Mikkelsen: Personal Knowledge Mastery

Robin Good: Content Curation World

Guillaume Decugis – Scoop.it Founder and CEO


Scoop.it! Glossary of Terms:

Bookmarklet: This piece of code is loaded (dragged) onto a browser’s bookmark toolbar. It allows the curator to quickly “scoop” an item from a webpage that he encounters during his normal web activities and post it onto his curated topic on scoop.it.

Curator: An individual who has a Scoop.it account and maintains one or more Scoop.it topics.

Interest Channels: This new top layer of organization was added with Scoop.it version 4 changes. Interest Channels are collections of the best curated topics on each of the categories predetermined by the Scoop.it developers. The right to have a topic included into one of the Interest channels is “won” based on regular, high-quality items added to the topic, recommendations for your topic all factored into a scoop.it algorithm.

My Community: Each curator has his own community made up of the other curators which own the scoop.it topics that he follows.

Reactions: A reaction is a comment or notification attached to an individual scoop. Reactions can be found with the “Reactions” link at the bottom left-hand corner of each individual scoop.

Recommendations: Recognized scoop.it experts in the field can “recommend” a curator’s topic. Individual recommendations translate into better rankings for your topic within Interest Channel and regular scoop.it searches and “badges” (silver, gold, etc) which are displayed with your topic title.

Scoop: A scoop is a secondary level of information, assigned to a selected topic by a scoop.it curator. A scoop is an individual news item, blog entry, webpage, etc. that a person stores to her topic of interest. For the better curators, it includes a snippet of the original item and the curator’s personal insight and comments about the item. The reader will click through the link to the entire original item at its site of origin if he wants to read the entire source.

Topic: The primary level of organization on Scoop.it, sometimes also referred to as a ‘page’. Curators define their personal topics, which serve as the main buckets for collecting curated scoops. Each Topic is assigned a unique, permanent URL and RSS feed.


For Further Exploration:

Asghar, Rob. The Rise Of The Smart Web: New Hope For Finding Your Audience, FORBES, 08/02/2013.

Bagla, Sarvesh. Scoop.it: A New World of Curation Infographic

Burrough, Sam. Supercharge your Scoop.it Suggestions, 9 minute video:

Decugis, Guillaume. “5 ways to increase the visibility of your content on Scoop.it”, 02/12/2014

Sannino, Gabriella. Scoop This: A Comprehensive Guide, Search Engine Journal, 01/20/2012:

Scoop.It’s Knowledge Base

Scoop it! – A Curation Tool & 5 Great Education Technology Scoops, EdTechReview, 3/5/2013.

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.

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 PCMag –  55 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.  Journalism.co.uk 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: mapss.nypl.org/warped/

They also have a very nice graphical knowledge mapping tool for archival data: archives.nypl.org

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: www.zooniverse.org. 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 (www.library.ohiou.edu/subjects/business 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: libconf.co /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 http://is.gd/garyprice2014_CIL.

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