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”

Hurricane Harvey Library Relief

Hurricane Harvey Library Relief

Our mission here at Tinkering Librarians is to share tech tools that library staff may find useful in some way, be it with a goal of being a more productive librarian or helping our patrons.  However, we do occasionally deviate to talk about things we think are important, and today I’d like to share a couple of ways you can help Texas Libraries in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

We get our fair share of bad weather in south Mississippi, and I know personally how tough it can be for a library to recover from a natural disaster.  My university’s campus, including our library, was directly hit by a tornado earlier this year.  No building on campus escaped some degree of damage or destruction.  Before I joined my university community, an entire campus was lost to Hurricane Katrina and was thankfully rebuilt in a new location.  It’s not always easy to bounce back, but it certainly can be done with help from the greater community.  Right now, Texas libraries need our help.

Library Journal posted an article detailing the situation for Texas, and Houston libraries in particular, on Tuesday.  It’s devastating to think of the destruction that awaits these library staff members and their patron communities.  If you’d like to help Texas libraries recover from Harvey, the Texas Library Association is accepting donations and selling coloring books to benefit their disaster relief fund.  This is a great way to donate where 100% of the proceeds will go directly to Texas libraries in need.

I’d also like to urge each of you to either review your library’s disaster preparedness plan on a regular basis or to create a plan if you don’t have one in place.  The American Library Association offers resources to help create and assess such a plan.  Don’t let yourself get stuck in the mindset of “it won’t happen to us.”  Hopefully, you’ll never need to put your plan into practice, but if you do, you’ll want to make sure it is up to date and sound.




Today, I just wanted to share a fun reader’s advisory tool, Literature-Map.  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.

Here’s one I did for Michael Crichton:

literature map


OpenCon2017 will be in Germany!

I want to use this post to boost a signal. OpenCon 2017 will be in Germany this year! Despite how many librarians care for and participate in Open in some form, very few were represented at the last conference. So, I’d like to encourage more librarian voices by increasing visibility a bit.  I wrote about my experience at OpenCon2016, which you can read here and here. Here is a small blurb from them.

OpenCon is more than a conference. It’s a platform for the next generation to learn about Open Access, Open Education, and Open Data, develop critical skills, and catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information—from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital research data. OpenCon 2017 is at the center of a growing community of thousands of students and early career academic professionals from across the world working to create an open system for research and education.

Applications to attend OpenCon 2017 in Berlin, Germany will open on June 27th.

I really suggest you keep your eye on the event and apply to attend.Applications will be opening soon. You can sign up for updates or get involved now by joining the community. The community is active, the projects are incredible, and the ability to link globally is powerful. It is a great experience, and if you cannot attend in person, you should look into checking in live online. Need more convincing, here are the videos from last years conference. Of if you want, browse the highlights.

Professional Development on a Budget

Professional Development on a Budget

If you’re like me, opportunities to attend conferences and other professional development events are a pretty rare occurrence.  For one thing, I work at a very small, private institution.  I have a very odd job description (read: I have A LOT of responsibilities), including all “systems” activities, as well as all reference and instruction classes for the university, and the ever present “other duties as assigned.”  Also, if you read my February post, you’ll remember that my university, and subsequently my library, was heavily damaged when our campus sustained a direct hit from a tornado on January 21st of this year.  (We’re recovering quite well, by the way!)  So… for reasons beyond my control, it isn’t feasible for me to be away from the office.

Long story short: travel and spending isn’t an option right now, BUT I find other ways to make sure I’m working on professional development and growth.  One thing I really enjoy is finding free recorded webinars that I can complete on my own time.  You can find them on just about anything; topics include technical services, reference, information literacy, customer service, collection development, programming, and just about anything else.

Today, I thought I’d share just a few of my favorite resources for free webinars:

I think webinars sometimes get a bad rap, but I personally really enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to learn from others what they are doing in their own libraries and about up and coming trends in library land without breaking the budget.  Being able to complete them on my own time is well worth the wait for the recording, rather than attending in real time because I rarely get to begin and finish any task without interruption.  There are tons of resources out there beyond the ones I’ve provided, so don’t be afraid to get out there and Google your specific webinar needs.

Happy developing!

Digital Trust

I just bought a new house. New house + new job = late blog post. For that, I’m TERRIBLY sorry. On the positive side, I had a very interesting conversation today, which has inspired this post. A gentleman named Jeffrey Ritter, a professor at Oxford and self-proclaimed digital information expert, came by my reference desk, as everyone does, looking for resources. While we talked about various things, the thing I thought would be great for this post was the idea of achieving digital trust.*

The idea centers around overcoming the initial skepticism around any new technology. How do you get business men to trust a fax of a signed document? How do you get lawyers and courts to accept e-signatures and e-filing? Obviously we have moved passed the skepticism on these issues, but emerging technology always faces that initial wall of skepticism before people will accept it as reliable.

This is different from Malcolm Gladwell‘s tipping point, which is more about predicting wide spread adoption than trust. However, achieving digital trust can necessary for a new innovation to pass the tipping point. I cannot say I know the answer or that I have a complete grasp on the issue. Our conversation was not that long or that in depth. What I can say is that I’m curious. I want to explore this idea. I want to learn more. I wanted to share this new, at least to me, topic of interest, because if you’re reading this blog, you might find it interesting as well.

What are your thoughts?


*He wrote a book on this. I’m not writing this blog as a plug, so if you are interested, you can do a quick google search and look more into him and his book.



I’m going to deviate from our typical posts today to share something personal with our readers.

As many of you know, a string of devastating storms swept through the southeast a little over a week ago.  The beautiful campus and surrounding community where I work took a direct hit from an F3 tornado early Saturday morning, January 21st.  The damage is truly heartbreaking.  All buildings on William Carey University’s Hattiesburg, Mississippi campus sustained damage, many severe and some beyond repair.

It was very emotional to return to campus and see the damage in person.  It was even more emotional to clean my desk out in the library and start the salvage/preservation process with some of our special collections materials.  Thankfully, most of our collection will be salvaged.  There’s no doubt that William Carey will come back stronger and better.  Our university lost an entire campus to Hurricane Katrina, so unfortunately, this isn’t our first rodeo.  That being said, we have pretty strong disaster protocols in place.  However, we couldn’t do it alone.  I can’t thank our neighboring university (and my Alma mater!), the University of Southern Mississippi enough.  They have gone above and beyond to house our students, set up classrooms and labs, and provide library access.

While the immediate needs of our students have been met, financial assistance will be needed to help out with textbooks, computers, clothing, vehicle repair, and the like.  If you’re interested in helping our students and/or campus, please visit the William Carey University Office of Advancement donation page.

Also, please don’t forget our surrounding community.  This tornado tore an approximate 25-mile path through Hattiesburg and Petal, Mississippi, following close to the same path as an F4 tornado which devastated our area almost exactly four years ago.  Numerous families and businesses are suffering major damage for the second time.  Various relief efforts are listed in this article from the Clarion-Ledger.


It’s the beginning of a new year, and for many it marks a time of change.  While we’re busy making resolutions in our personal lives, it’s also a good time to evaluate our libraries as well.  I like to begin the new year by thoroughly organizing my desk and prioritizing any ongoing and forthcoming projects.  Just like our desks and the library shelves need a little tidying up sometimes, so do our websites.  If one of your library’s resolutions is to create a clutter free,user-friendly website, consider using Optimal Workshop to get started.

Optimal Workshop consists of several user experience tools to help you organize your website with your users in mind.  I’ll highlight three in this post.  Focusing on user experience (UX) to me means giving our patrons a usable, desirable library website.  In other words, I want to give them what they are looking for without making them think about it.  Usability is only part of the user experience, but it is a very important part.  For an excellent (and entertaining) review of website usability, read Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think.

In order for a site to be usable, the navigation must be instinctive and as concise as possible.  If a patron visits your website to use a database, they will probably look for something that says “Databases” or “Research.”  If your databases are located in the “About Us” section, chances are some people will miss them.  Optimal Workshop has two tools to help with your navigation, Treejack and OptimalSort. Continue reading “”

OpenCon 2016: Part One

OpenCon 2016: Part One

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending OpenCon thanks to a gracious sponsorship from my institution, the University of Arizona. What is OpenCon? It is a small three-day conference of researchers, entrepreneurs, librarians, and others, where attendees learn about open access, open data, and open education through a series of keynotes, panels, and workshops (called unconference sessions) that finalizes in a day of advocacy. That sentence makes it seem like an overwhelming amount of information to pack into a short few days, and it was. It would make for a very long post, so I’m going to spread the information over two posts.  Continue reading “OpenCon 2016: Part One”



Personally, I have a hard time reading on the web for very long.  Often times when I find an interesting article or blog post, I’ll print it out and stick it in my planner or somewhere on my desk to read later.  It may be a bit archaic, nonetheless that’s my method.  If you’ve ever printed anything from the web, you know it usually looks terrible.  There are typically numerous ads and a lot of “junk” that have nothing to do with the actual content of the webpage.  PrintFriendly makes printing pages from the web a little less painful, and you can feel good about helping the environment in the process.

All you do is enter the URL of the page you want to print:


And voila! You have the option to edit the suggested PrintFriendly preview to include things like relevant charts and graphs if they were removed or delete parts you don’t need.  When you’re satisfied you can print or save the edited page as a .pdf file.

This tool is particularly helpful in the library when you are trying to help your patrons save on printing costs or if you need to enlarge text for the visually impaired.

Bonus: There’s a browser tool you can add, as well as a code builder if you want to add a print friendly button on one of your own website pages.  And it’s all free!