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!
Disposable Email Services
I’ve written about these before if you’d like to check out my previous post. I’ll just reiterate that these are pretty cool and super helpful. There are all sorts of reasons a person may prefer to use a disposable email address (here’s lookin’ at you, trolls), and these are two good options.
- Khan Academy
Khan Academy offers instructional videos for users to learn on their own time. Many subjects are covered at varying levels. Coming from an academic library, I really like the test prep section including NCLEX-RN and MCAT.
- Teacher Tube
As the name suggests, these videos are appropriate for teachers and schools. Teachers can come here for professional development or for videos geared toward students.
Zotero is pretty popular in the world of citation management. They call themselves “your personal research assistant,” and it’s easy to see why. Not only can you use the tool to manage citations, you can organize with your own tags and search them. They claim to have support “for over 8,000 citation styles.” Did you know there were over 8,000 citation styles? No? Me either.
Instapaper’s tagline is “Save Anything. Read Anywhere.” This is a great app for saving content to read later. A nice feature is that when you read an article using Instapaper, you lose all of the ads and extra fluff. You can also highlight text and create notes to go back to later. So, it could potentially be a great research tool for students.
Oozled curates lists of tools and resources on varying topics. It started as one person sharing his bookmarks as a resource guide for students. You can explore the site without signing up for your own free account, but having an account lets you customize your feed. It’s pretty neat, and you should just take a look for yourself.
You simply search the name of an author you enjoy, and the site creates a word map of related authors. It’s super simple and fun! I can see this being very helpful in the library when a patron mentions an unfamiliar author and wants recommendations for similar works. Warning: you may get motion sickness.
- Listopia from Goodreads
Beyond helping patrons find their next great read, you could use this to help create displays on the fly. There’s a list for everything, and some are surprisingly niche.
Distraction Blockers (Browser Extensions):
Because I’ve already made a post about these, I’m not going to reiterate, but I’ll list them here. I encourage you to take a look at my previous post, Productivity enhancement using blockers, if this is something you are interested in (read: if you’re more disciplined than myself).
- Max Tabs (Firefox)
- TooManyTabs (Chrome or Firefox)
- Block site (Chrome) or Blocksite (Firefox)
- Focus (Mac)
- Cold Turkey (cross platform) – fair warning: this one is hardcore
- Grammarly (browser extension and app)
Our students ask about this tool often. With the free version, it will fix critical grammar and spelling errors, including contextual spelling errors, and punctuation. This tool works across web platforms, and you can add it to your desktop. You can upload or copy and paste text into the app to be checked. I suspect our students are more interested in the “premium” options, which include a plagiarism checker.
- Google Docs
I probably don’t need to say much about this one, but it is worth noting. This is especially great for folks who don’t have Microsoft Office Suite on their own computers. You can easily covert Word files to Google Docs and likewise, Google Docs to Word. This is so important for college students who must turn in papers in Word format only. This is certainly better than seeing a student struggle with WordPad, or (gasp!) Notepad, to format a paper. I also love the ability to work collaboratively with others…. here’s looking at you potluck sign up sheet.
Zoho can be used to collaboratively work on projects. You can get up to 10 users with the free version with the ability to send direct messages, as well as create task-oriented feeds. It also nicely integrates with some Google Apps.
So, that’s it for now! I hope you find at least one tool in this three-part series that is useful. Tinker away!