Dee’s Favorites (Part 3 of 3): Making Your Patrons’ Lives and Your Jobs Easier

Dee’s Favorites (Part 3 of 3): Making Your Patrons’ Lives and Your Jobs Easier

This is the final installment of my favorites series… for now.  This is sort of a catchall post where “everything else” fits.  I’ve given it the very long, but appropriate title, “Making Your Patrons’ Lives and Your Jobs Easier” because that’s what these tools are all about… so, let’s dive in! Continue reading “Dee’s Favorites (Part 3 of 3): Making Your Patrons’ Lives and Your Jobs Easier”


Open Access Tools & Resources

When following a conference on Twitter last week, one attendee tweeted about Unpaywall. It was the first time they had heard of it, which surprised me at first. I was equally surprised that the Open Access Button had not been mentioned at the same time.  I realize now that I have had the benefit of attending OpenCon and following many people active in Open for a while now. Below I will list some of the open tools and resources, which hopefully, someone will find useful. Continue reading “Open Access Tools & Resources”

Dee’s Favorites (Part 2 of 3): Basic Graphic Design Tools

Dee’s Favorites (Part 2 of 3): Basic Graphic Design Tools

The tools I’m going to share with you in this post are some of my favorite to tinker with and explore.  I’ll call this the “fun segment” of this three part series.  We don’t really have a budget for marketing at my library (and I’m guessing a lot of you probably don’t either), but that doesn’t mean we can’t have great looking materials to distribute on our website and in print.  Anything you present to your patrons will be a reflection of your library and will contribute to the overall user experience.  Remember UX from last time?  Everything from your website, to your signage, to your program flyers are part of telling your story.  And let’s face it, you don’t want your story to be clipart and Microsoft Paint, so let’s jump right in.

Design, Document Creation, Infographics, etc.

Canva is probably the best thing I’ve ever stumbled upon.  I use it A LOT, both for work and for personal use.  It’s another tool that I have a hard time believing it’s free.  I’m not a graphic designer.  Design elements don’t exactly come intuitively to me, which means Canva is the perfect tool for me to make great looking graphics for our website and marketing materials.

So, what can you make on Canva?  Just about anything.  Check out my previous post on Canva to learn more.  One update since this post that I love: you can now search template content.  This is a huge improvement!  Did I mention I LOVE CANVA! Continue reading “Dee’s Favorites (Part 2 of 3): Basic Graphic Design Tools”

Visualizing Data

Visualizing Data

When I was in the Army, there was a surprising amount of focus on the presentation of the intelligence we gathered. In the beginning, I was frustrated. I was young and could not imagine why it mattered so much that our presentation to the higher-ups had to be as clear and simplified as possible. It seemed like a waste of valuable time. I remained skeptical until I started comparing our work to that of some of the other units. It became blatantly obvious how well-manicured presentation of information can help inform the reader quickly and effectively. Since then, I fell in love with the process of synthesizing information into presentable formats.

Early infographic I made on censorship.

Continue reading “Visualizing Data”

Dee’s Favorites (Part 1 of 3): UX & Usability

Dee’s Favorites (Part 1 of 3): UX & Usability

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I had a baby in October and as expected, I’m on a different, much busier schedule these days!  The day before my little one was born, I presented at my state library association’s conference for the first time.  It was a fun experience, and I hope I get to do it again (though maybe in a bit more comfortable circumstances).  The theme of our conference was “Tell Your Story.”  I chose to talk about some of my favorite online tools to make telling your story easy and effective.  Some have been mentioned on the blog before.  However, I thought it might be nice to share my thoughts and some of my favorite online tools that I find myself coming back to over and over, as well as a few that are just neat and worth mentioning.

The tools mentioned here are some you can use in your own libraries to help market the library and its services to your patrons, regardless of library type.  All of the tools and websites listed have free options, though some may have additional perks if you want to purchase packages.  I will say, I have not purchased a single upgrade, and they have all met the needs of my university library well.  I am not an expert at using any of these, but I’d love to hear some feedback from readers on how any of you are currently using or plan to use these tools.

I’ve broken the tools down into three broad categories: usability and user experience, very basic graphic design, and things to make your patrons’ lives and your jobs easier.  Some tools will work for multiple categories.  I’m going to cover these tools in three posts to break it up a bit, so for now let’s jump into user experience and usability.
Continue reading “Dee’s Favorites (Part 1 of 3): UX & Usability”

Tech-Life Balance

Tech-life balance is not a new catchphrase, and it is at times used as an extension of work-life balance. However, it differs in that finding a balance between the tech in our lives and living our lives extends beyond work. This idea comes to mind lately because of two books I’m reading: When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing and Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World (book review links not sponsored ones). The former helps you consider the best times to do certain sorts of tasks while the latter discusses the importance of distraction-free work time.

I am definitely a lark with a tendency to–SQUIRREL! Needlesstosay, I’m working to optimize my work patterns and make more progress on projects in my off-time. So what this amounts to is restructuring my life to regulate the times spent on what Cal Newport (Deep Work) calls shallow work out of my peak work time, which for me is about four hours from 9-1. It is not easy. Continue reading “Tech-Life Balance”

Professional Development Pt. 2

First, some good news. Very soon I will begin writing about libraries and technology for Informed Librarian. This will be a fun if not a crazy adventure. I will not be giving up this blog, so that means MORE TINKERING. : )

Today’s topic is professional development, an expansion of Dee’s post from last year. Professional development is a mix of learning to improve the skills you have now and developing the skills to use later. With the former, the best way to find great tools is to leverage your network. What are they using to learn? What tricks do they know that you do not? What experiences did your colleagues lean on to be the skilled professionals they are today? Libraries and library positions vary so greatly, the answers will vary person to person. Continue reading “Professional Development Pt. 2”