Links Roundup #43: Christmas ideas, Electronic Notebooks, Copy-editing Tools

saddle and ropeBest Engineering Kits for Kids

Those of you who regularly read the American Libraries AL Direct emails, will have seen this post, however, given the upcoming gift-giving season, I think it bears repeating.  Caroline Stewart of posted on October 5th a very nice review of Best Engineering Kits for Kids.  I wish some of these colorful, fun toys had been available when I was young!

Other Christmas Ideas for the Young-at-Heart

Also highlighted recently at, are The Best Premium Drones for Photography, Racing and More and The Best Point and Shoot Cameras (yes, cameras not on your phone are better than ever and worth a look!)

And for my librarian friends, I have not forgotten you… Librarian themed gift items:  From Amazon; and a revisit to the American Libraries 2017 Holiday Gift Guide for Librarians and Book Lovers.

Electronic Research Notebooks (ERN)

We have talked here before about electronic lab notebooks.  In the Summer 2018 edition of Issues in Science & Technology Librarianship, Kortney K. Rupp of University of California, Berkeley revisits this technology with a focus more on big research data in her article: Electronic Research Notebooks: A Piece of the Research Data Management Puzzle. She also has a great Library Research Guide that discusses ERNs. Thanks Kortney!

Electronic Copy-Editing Applications

Lewis at Freelance Effects reviewed ProWritingAid recently in his blog post ProWriting Aid Review: A Close Look at the All-in-One Copy Editing Tool.  This tool has incorporated a number of enhancements over the past few years and  might be worth a second look by those searching for online copy-editing help.  The tool now offers WordPress, Word and Google Doc plug-in options. The catch is that these options are only available in paid versions.  The free version must be used online only and is limited to 500 words at a time and 19 reports.  While this can be frustrating, it does allow a writer to try out the application and test its usefulness prior to making a decision to enroll. Lewis describes his detailed trial and his impression is quite positive on this copy-editing tool. Kindlepreneur also reviewed ProWritingAid in his article on Best Proofreading Software of 2018. This review compares several of the top tools out on the web today including Grammarly, Hemingway, and Ginger as well as ProWritingAid.

We Interrupt this blog for a New Book Announcement!

Aajay Murphy with book

I am interrupting the normal topics of this blog to do a bit of shameless self-promotion.  The Director of the Graduate Library at Kennesaw State University (Cheryl Stiles) and I (Crystal Renfro) are proud to announce the publication of Transforming Libraries to Serve Graduate Students.

This book was a organic outgrowth of the burgeoning interest in graduate student services that began at the first two Transforming Libraries For Graduate Student Conferences held at Kennesaw State University in 2016 and 2018.

Cheryl and I co-edited this 460+ page text (34 chapters!), and it has been taking over a large portion of our lives for the past two years.  Our Digital Commons Managing Editor, Aajay Murphy is pictured to the left, holding our beautiful book.  He was the cover designer, and Cheryl and I totally fell in love with his stunning design.  We are so grateful that ACRL was willing to use Aajay’s design as the final cover.  As an aside, if anyone has ideas for a book in the field of academic library science, Cheryl and I highly recommend the folks at ACRL.  They were totally fantastic to work with.

We worked with librarian authors from across North America and Europe to investigate a broad array of library services and functions that target graduate student needs.  To quote the book blurb,

Transforming Libraries to Serve Graduate Students is a practical atlas of how librarians around the world are serving the dynamic academics that are today’s graduate students. In four sections—One Size Does Not Fit All: Services by Discipline, Degree, and Delivery Method; Librarian Functions and Spaces Transformed to Meet Graduate Students’ Needs; More Than Just Information Literacy: Workshops and Data Services; and Partnerships—readers will discover a plethora of programs and ideas gleaned directly from experienced librarians working at some of the top academic institutions, and explore the power of leveraging their library initiatives through partnerships with other university units.”

We think services for graduate students are a critical and often overlooked arena for academic libraries today, and we are pleased to offer this book as another step in the continuing conversation about graduate student library services that has begun to take place in the industry.  We hope many librarians and library administrators will read our book and implement new initiatives at their institutions as a result.  The true winners of our combined efforts will be the graduate students we all work to serve.   😀

Links Roundup #42: Mindfulness, Infographics, Microsoft Teams

saddle and ropeSTARTS TOMORROW!

Waking Up in the World is a 10-day free online event bringing you tools and insights to become a force for change in the world. I wanted to remind you that it starts tomorrow and is coming to you from the people who offered the Mindfulness Summit.

Speakers and topics include:

  • ECKHART TOLLE, Author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Power of Now – “The Power of Presence in Uncertain Times”
  • VAN JONES, Bestselling Author, CNN Host, and President/Founder of Dream Corps – “Breaking Out of Our Resistance Bubble”
  • TARA BRACH, PHD, Author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge – “Disarming Our Heart: Letting Go of Blame”
  • CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Bestselling Author of Women Who Run With the Wolves – “Still, We Rise: Sorting, Saving, Sheltering, and Sowing the Seeds of New Life”

Waking Up in the World was created to support the new The Sounds True Foundation – a non-profit with a mission that includes funding scholarships for a new generation of mindfulness teachers in areas such as education, social justice, environmental activism and youth work.


Cool Infographics Tools

Jeff Bullas offers this article on tools for creating cool infographics.


Microsoft Teams

Have you tried Microsoft Teams?  If your organization has access, this recent article from the Microsoft guys on their latest enhancements to Teams might be of interest: Microsoft Teams is getting ready for back to school with these new features.

Links Roundup #41: GIFs, Tracking, Smart Pens, Audiobook Services and Transcription Services

saddle and ropeAnimated GIFs

Richand Byrne from Free Technology for Teachers recently did this nice survey of 7 Ways to Make Animated GIFs.  As we are all gearing up this fall with instruction, newsletters, etc, GIFs can be an effective way to add interest to your work.

How to Stop Google Tracking

Ever wish you could stop Google from tracking your location?  Sometimes it feels a little Big Brotherish… granted, all the wonderful things apps can do these days, seemingly reading our minds, can be great, but if you are like me and would like to have the option of turning off those watching electronic eyes, Tom’s Guide has an article to consider: How to Stop Google from Tracking Your Location. The post provides step by step instructions on how to see what Google has been tracking lately as well as how to turn it off.

Ranking Smart Pens

Thinking about getting a Smart Pen?  Top Ten reviews has ranked the Best Smart Pens of 2018 on their site.  Spoiler Alert:  The Livescribe 3 Smart Pen wins.   😛  But you will still want to read the article to see how all the features of the various pens rant.

Best Audio Book Services

While you are over at Top Ten, you might also want to take a look at their “Best Places to Download, Buy and Rent Audiobooks 2018“.  If you are like me and spend a good deal of your life in the car commuting, audiobooks can be a lifesaver.  Their article offers a good overview of the audiobook landscape, but the librarian in me just has to say it… the best place to “rent” an audiobook is your public library!  It is free!  I have yet to run out of books to listen to from my library, so I keep putting off choosing a pay service.

Voice to Text Notetaking App

Have you heard of Otter?  It is a new (to me at least) notetaking app that is designed to capture audio conversations.  It has a speech recognition feature that will separate the conversations between multiple individuals and track who said what.  Sounds pretty cool. reviewed it recently and gave it Good rating.  There is both a free level and a premium (purchase) level.

What nifty new (or new to you!) tool have you started using recently?  Share so we can all benefit.

Writer’s Corner

If June is the month for conferences, then July must be tied between being the month for vacations and the month for special projects.   You know, all those creative ideas that you put down on your performance plan that you would enact once you had a breather?  Well, here at my university, we don’t really ever see the proverbial “slow summer”, but there is a minuscule lessening of the frenetic place this month.  So this appears to be the month to look at new tools, draft out those fantastic article ideas I had back during the winter months, and find some new favorite experts and fellow writers to follow.  I never get as much done during these blessed moments as I hope, but here are a few things I came across that I want to share with each of you today.

New (to me) blog for Academic Librarians on Writing

In mid-July I attended a free UKSG Webinar on Writing for Academic Publication.  The speaker was Helen Fallon, the Deputy University Librarian at Maynooth University in Ireland. As well as having a delightful accent, Helen presented a terrific webinar for librarians who are interested in getting involved in academic writing and publishing.  If you missed the webinar, all is not lost!  Helen is also the blogger behind Academic Writing Librarians, a very nice blog that I will be following henceforth.  In addition to her blog posts, there are two very useful tabs: Top Tips from Journal Editors, and Top Tips from Published Authors where she has collected advice from many other experienced individuals. Helen also has a tab for Resources which links to copies of her past presentations and other bibliographies of interest to writers.

A Scientific Writing Tool I found at ASEE Conference

I discovered this self-proclaimed “online LaTeX and Rich Text collaborative writing and publishing tool” called Overleaf at my ASEE conference this year.  Overleaf was launched back in 2012.  This cloud-based, typesetting tool has a premium version as well as a free version that supports up to 1 Gig of storage space and 60 files. This tool will be particularly interesting to writers who need the formatting power of LaTeX, but desire a much easier front end than the typical LaTeX tool.  They have a number of pre-formatted templates that make getting started even faster and easier. Files can be shared with collaborators via a unique url, but I would not recommend a project where frequent collaborative editing will be taking place since only the pro version has version history.  The individuals at the Overleaf booth passed out two interesting case studies of universities who have implemented Overleaf:  Purdue and University of Cambridge. If LaTeX is popular on your campus, Overleaf is worth a closer look.

What have you discovered this summer?  Share new tools with us so we can all continue to grow.  Then take a few deep breaths…. August and the Fall Semester is looming!