Tech in the Classroom

Tech in the Classroom

Teaching is an intensive process. Between planning lessons, preparing assignments, and grading, there is no shortage of hours spent behind the scenes for an hour of class time. Thankfully there are some tech solutions that might help enhance all that effort and bolster your lessons.

Nearpod is a slideshow application that allows the audience to follow along with you and interact with your presentation. You can embed questions they can answer or links for them to follow. It facilitates instructive lessons where a bit of hands-on practice is best. 

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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.

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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”



It has been a while, I know. For that I am sorry. Dee is taking a short break, and I was at a loss on what to talk about next. There is no shortage of tech and tools, but I haven’t had the chance to tinker with many new ones. Interesting developments like the Ethereum fork in response to a Parity hack had plenty of coverage by individuals who are more knowledgeable than I. Also, debates abound about how deeply librarians really need to understand blockchain. I think it is uncontroversial to say* that librarians need to at least have it on their radar. So, this post is going to cover cryptojacking. Continue reading “Cryptojacking”

Thank you libraries & librarians!

I was hoping to write a simple post about library technology, but then I woke this morning to the news about Las Vegas. This is not going to be a political post. That is not the focus of this blog. This post is a thank you.  A thank you to all the librarians who work tirelessly to make sure that their library remains a haven in chaos, a place to get information when people are lost, and an access point to services they might not otherwise have (e.g. internet).

I took a break in the middle of last month because I was helping some of my family evacuate from South Florida to Durham to escape Irma. Many were able to leave, and for that I know I am fortunate. However, my father, who manages an airport, was not. It was stressful.  In the midst of this, I was no in the mindset to write another emergency resources post.

While I was focused on family, so many libraries were creating resources for their patrons. Libraries are essential for connecting patrons to the resources they need in these times of crisis. Knowing this, librarians accessed the damage and determined ways to get back online as fast as possible. Thank you. Thank you to my partner Dee for stepping up in her own community when crisis hit. Thank you to all the librarians in areas affected by the storms and events for all that you have done.  Thank you for guiding patrons to FEMA applications and crisis counseling. Thank you for creating resource flyers. For those in areas unaffected, thank you for informing patrons on ways they can help. Thank you.

I am proud to be in a profession that remains a beacon in every squall, leading their communities to the information they need to move forward. If you have not already read it, there is a great piece on American Libraries by Timothy Inklebarger called Rebuilding Communities after Disasters. It highlights just a few ways libraries are being so amazing in such troublesome times.