Librarianship on Twitter

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Laksamee Putnam, highlighting her choices for librarians to follow on Twitter that reflect today’s profession!

Image

Recently on Business Insider the above image was used in a list of the 10 least stressful jobs in America. My bemused reaction can be appropriately animated through Twilight Sparkle. So, I’ve created a list of my own. Here are a few library people I follow on twitter, advocates for librarianship who better reflect us in the here and now.  Librarians have broken out of the stereotype that image displays, we are using social media, following tech trends and contributing to the media culture of today. I think you’ll find us to be like any other professional group, frequently stressed out about our work, but still passionate about what we do.

1. Andy Woodworth @wawoodworth

Andy Woodworth is a New Jersey librarian. He was a 2010 Library Journal Mover & Shaker. Andy even managed to get a response from the Old Spice guy. You can read more about that and more on his blog. His twitter feed is a great mix of real life, library humor and library advocacy.

2. Librarian Wardrobe @LibWardrobe

Edited by four stylish librarians who are worth following in their own right (@pumpedlibrarian, @catladylib, @magpielibrarian, & @beccakatharine) Librarian Wardrobe originally began on tumblr, archiving and showcasing how librarians do not fit the stereotype of the image above. Be on the look out, and be ready to look your best at Midwinter or Annual!

3. Jason Vance @jvance

A librarian at Middle Tennessee State University, Jason Vance recently gained infamy through his tumblr, The Lives and Deaths of Academic Library Staplers However, I previously followed him when he was active on @politelibrarian and blogging for A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette.  Jason is a great candidate for #followalibrarian, his days are filled with humorous accounts of meetings, reference interactions and typical academic library antics. 

4. Sarah Houghton @TheLiB

The Librarian in Black recently celebrated it’s 10th birthday! Sarah Houghton has a a great voice and is a wonderful resource for technology in libraries. Her posts are thought provoking and her library advocacy is always strong, well thought out and practical. I highly recommend reading through her blog and following her.

5. David Lee King @davidleeking

David Lee King is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library. His active twitter and blog presence make him a fount of technology information. Frequently, his reviews of digital tools and examples of creative uses of social media within libraries have inspired me to start a new project.

6. Librarian Problems @librarianprblms

This is real life people. Nothing describes the insanity of a workplace better than a well worded and executed GIF. The tumblr  gets funnier the longer you read, but be ready to explain to your coworkers why you’re laughing uncontrollably in your cubicle. Props to @williamottens for creating something that makes the stress of my day manageable.

Laksamee Putnam is a Research & Instruction Librarian at Towson University, Albert S. Cook Library.  She is specifically liaison to the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics.  Laksamee holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana.  Her research interests focus on the use of emerging technologies and social media in science.   Find out more about her here or follow her on Twitter!

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Browse a journal, digitally

Over the last month, our library at Towson University has been trialing the BrowZine iPad app. Library Tech Talk is happy to have Laksamee Putnam share her thoughts and experiences with the app!

BrowZine Logo

BrowZine is a content delivery app designed to bring journal articles to your tablet. Currently it is only available for iPad, with Android and mobile interfaces under development. The app is simple to use and brings back the browsability of a journal which you might lack while accessing electronic formats from a computer. However, limitations to accessible content and annual cost may deter budget conscious libraries from being early BrowZine adopters.

For a brief introduction I recommend watching their video:

Accessing Journals

BrowZine is a free app created by Third Iron. After downloading the app, users have instant access to a free, no-login required open access library. Complete journals and back issues, such as the Public Library of Science journals, are available. This makes the app great for users who are interested in browsing their favorite online open access journals on an iPad. Additionally, if you are affiliated with an institution that subscribes to BrowZine you can also access your institution’s paid journal subscriptions. Journals can be placed onto a personalized bookshelf for easy access and notification of new available articles.

Not all of the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) listings are available, and many of your institution’s holdings may also be missing. This may be because BrowZine has not yet uploaded the content or has not negotiated access agreements with a publisher. However content is being loaded everyday and the Third Iron team has been extremely responsive to request or questions about access. Currently, journals can be added if they work with CrossRef and therefore have a DOI; if a journal you want access to is missing and it has a DOI you may want to send an inquiry to BrowZine.

Choosing a Journal Issue in BrowsZine

Choosing a Journal Issue in BrowsZine

Browsing

The digital browsability of BrowZine will appeal to users on all levels, though faculty members may be the largest target audience in many academic libraries. Faculty members who enjoyed receiving paper journals to flip through, or who let their paper journals stack up unread are able to quickly scan issues via a digital table of contents. Frequently read journals can be placed onto a users BrowZine bookshelf, where alerts will tell the user when new content has been added. User can also save articles to a separate BrowZine shelf for offline reading.

A slight drawback to just being allowed to browse is the lack of any search features within a journal. Want to find any article on cancer in Cell? Too bad! For a librarian, that could be a teachable moment within class, to showcase the power of utilizing a database over the simplicity of skimming a single journal, opening a discussion about the different pros and cons for browsing versus searching.

Reading

Reading articles within BrowZine is easy; a high quality PDF takes moments to load and users can use the familiar pinch to zoom gesture in order to read or examine the paper closely. BrowZine also allows users to send articles to various other apps/social media/accounts. This includes annotation apps such as GoodReader, cloud storage such as DropBox and citation trackers such as Zotero.  A connected academic will appreciate the flexibility of these options, and also utilize them if they want to get their hands on a version they can save/print/share etc.

Open and send articles

Open and send articles

Depending on the size of your university and your library’s budget, the institutional cost for BrowZine could be prohibitively expensive, especially if you are unsure of how many of your faculty/students have a tablet device. In this case, you may consider exploring the available free, open access content.

Applications in Library Instruction

Considering the tablet’s growing popularity and the library prerogative to get patrons to utilize library resources, BrowZine could be a great way to market your library. If you have iPads for instruction, getting students to “hold” an electronic article, break down the different requirements for peer reviewed journals and to understand the breadth of topics would perhaps be more tangible through BrowZine. Faculty members could ask students to find and critique an article in a specific journal and then email in their responses. Libraries with circulating iPads could include BrowZine linked to the open access library or, if an institutional subscriber, access to the library’s electronic journal subscriptions. The convenience and visual appeal of BrowZine makes it an intriguing addition to library service and could creatively enhance instruction.

Let us know in the comments how you have used BrowZine!

Laksamee Putnam is a Research & Instruction Librarian at Towson University, Albert S. Cook Library.  She is specifically liaison to the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics.  Laksamee holds a Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana.  Her research interests focus on the use of emerging technologies and social media in science.   Find out more about her here or follow her on Twitter!

Guest Post: Lucidchart – The online flow-chart app you’ve been dreaming of.

Today we’re featuring another fantastic guest post from Emily Thompson, Learning Technologies Librarian at SUNY Oswego.

Have you ever tried to make a flowchart in Word or PowerPoint? I can feel you cringing from here. It’s kind of an awful experience. Things are hard to line up and they always end up “good enough” after hours of fiddling. It’s a frustrating process that often made me think, “Come on. There has to be something easier than this!”

Lucidchart is that something. It’s a web-based application that makes charts: mostly flow charts, but also beautiful Venn diagrams, mind mapping, and wire-framing. The beauty of the program is that thing that will take a long time in your standard word processor take minutes. This chart (made for a poster on using librarians for SUNY Oswego’s Annual Symposium on Learning and Teaching last fall) took approximately ten minutes. It looks professional and clean, and it was incredibly easy.

Lucidchart flowchart example

Flowchart created using Lucidcharts.

After signing up for an account (more on that later), you click on “New Document” and choose a template. I like to start with a blank one. The work space looks familiar, with shapes on the left, choices on the top, and a white space in the middle. To get started, you just need to grab a shape from the left and drag it onto the workspace. You can edit the fonts and colors using the choices. Then to make the next node, hover near the side  of your box. The cursor will turn into a +, click and drag and your arrow will appear. Release, and you can pick your next shape.

Lucidchart workspace

Lucidchart workspace

In addition, you can drag in your own pictures, which can be handy for building instructions that require screenshots. Under File->More Shapes, you find your options for Mind Mapping and Venn diagrams. I find the Venn circles to be particularly time-saving. Rather than spending time on powerpoint trying to get the perfect translucent overlay, Lucidchart just gives you circles. The overlay is automatic. All that’s left is a text box to label them.

Venn Diagram from Symposium on Learning and Teaching poster

This Lucidchart example is also from the Symposium on Learning and Teaching poster.

When you’re finished, the final product is downloaded from the File menu. Lucidchart gives you a choice of a pdf, jpeg, png, or a Visio. The pdfs are 8.5×11, but the others can be downloaded as a full page or a selected area. After downloading they can be added to any project just like any other image.

You can sync Lucidchart with a Google account and it will show up in your Drive. If your not on gmail, you can still share any chart with anyone else with an account.

Lucidchart icon for setting up a free educational account

Icon for setting up a free educational account

The one caveat: signing up for a free educational account is far more confusing than it should be. First you have to sign up for a paid account trial (it doesn’t ask for a credit card though). Then you have to click on your name at the top left of the screen. Once you’re in your account, you should see a grey box on the right that says “Get a free educational upgrade.”

You will only see it if you sign up with an email that ends in .edu. Students can get an individual account (after feeding Lucidchart three email addresses), but teachers and librarians need to sign up for a class account. It’s all sort of confusing and weird, but it’s such a great product that it’s worth it.


Emily Thompson is the Learning Technologies Librarian at SUNY Oswego in Oswego, New York. She spends her days seeking out new tools to help her students make their projects as awesome as possible. She also co-hosts the LiTTech podcast on edreach.us. You can follow her on Twitter @librarianofdoom.

Guest Post: Image Codr for CC images

I love the idea of Creative Commons works. The idea that a creator can set his or her own parameters on what is “fair” use is incredibly powerful. Policing image usage in a digital age can be quite hairy, however. Copy and paste, drag and drop, and “save image as” are all quick and easy ways to grab digital images from the web. Even those of us with the best of intentions for attributing our images often have a hard time keeping the proper documentation connected with the correct images. As an academic librarian, I really want to set a good example for my students by citing all of my images correctly, but I don’t want to have to juggle image files, CC licenses, and links to creators separately.
That’s where Image Codr comes in. As Image Codr says on its website, there are a number of steps involved in properly citing a CC image on a website.
  • Make sure you understood the license correctly
  • Get the correct HTML code for the IMG tag
  • Link the image back to the Flickr photo page
  • Give the author of the image proper credits (Attribution)
  • Link to the Flickr profile of the author
  • Link to the license the image is licensed under
 Image Codr works with CC images from Flickr to make sure that the CC license is understood, to link the image back to the Flickr page, and to give credit to the creator. All you have to do is find a CC image you like, such as this one:
Go to the Image Codr website and click on “Get code!” Enter the website URL, like this:
The result is a webpage that clearly tells you the parameters of the CC license and gives you a chunk of code to copy into your webpage with all the proper links and attributions.
And, voila! Here’s what the code looks like generated on this page:
As Summer into Autumn slips by Robert S. Donovan, on Flickr
I love this site because it takes the guess work out of citing CC images, which I feel is the one complicating factor of CC in general. This site gives a correct, consistent way to cite images on your website without having to do any hand coding. There is also the option to drag a bookmark from the “Get code” page into your browser’s toolbar, so you don’t even have to go to the Image Codr website once you’ve found an image you like.
As for finding CC images on Flickr, you can certainly use Flickr’s own interface by either browsing through their CC images or selecting to search in “The Commons” from the advanced search screen. Image Codr also has a simple search interface that redirects to Flickr. Another option, and the one that I use most frequently, is FlickrCC Blue Mountains. This is an external site that searches only Flickr CC images and redirects you to the Flickr page for grabbing the image. It’s a bare bones site, but I find it to be much easier to use for searching CC images than Flickr’s own site.

Meggan Frost is the Public Services Librarian at Paul Smith’s College in Paul Smiths, NY. As a librarian in a small school, her job requires her to be a jack-of-all-trades, although she spends most of her time trying to create great classes and workshops. A freelancing musician in a previous life, her interests in librarianship are centered on academic libraries with an emphasis on multimedia resources. You can read more at http://librarianmeg.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter @doubleG2718.

Guest Post: PicMonkey for Pictures

Today we’re featuring another fantastic guest post, this time from Emily Thompson, Learning Technologies Librarian at SUNY Oswego.

Most libraries aren’t fortunate enough to have a professional photographer on staff, the most we can hope for is an enthusiastic amateur. While that person might know how to use Photoshop or Gimp, those programs are complicated and really require at least a basic class to figure out how to work them well. They are also slow to open, which is annoying when all you want to do is crop a photo to put up on the Facebook page.

Enter PicMonkey, a free, web-based photo editor that lets you make quick edits in a simple format. As an academic librarian, I use it primarily to jazz up our social media. An announcement is just words, but PicMonkey gives me a quick way to turn those words into a high-visibility image.

From their homepage, you have two options: Edit a photo or Create a collage.  To edit, you just have to drag your .jpg or .png to the box, and the site will open the editing page.

PicMonkey Photo Editing Site

PicMonkey Homepage

Once there, you’ll see the site’s wide array of tools. While not as precise as more professional tools, PicMonkey can fix basic problems with exposure, crop, and add filters. For example, lets look at this photo of my cat. I accidentally left the “incandescent” filter on, so this photo is a bit dark and a little blue.

PicMonkey Editor

Before…

Picture of cat after cropping

After cropping and adjusting the brightness.

From there, I added the Urbane filter, which add some Instagram flair without the smart phone.

Cat picture after Urbane filter

Cat picture after the “Urbane” filter.

The “lipstick” icon takes you to more traditional airbrushing tools. These aren’t the strongest features, really good airbrushing does require a professional tool. However, they’re constantly improving, and they add some fun tools like “Highlights.”

After highlighting and lipstick tool.

Where PicMonkey really shines is in its selection of fonts. There are over 30 different ones, and no Comic Sans. Mac users will note that colors and size are determined in a window very similar to the Inspector from Pages.

Fun with fonts.

You can also add symbols, frames, and textures.

Add borders to finish the look.

The nice thing about all of these features is that they are easily manipulated with sliders, and nothing is permanent until you click “Apply.”

Once you’re done, click “save” and the photo will be downloaded in one of three sizes (I usually choose “Ewan” unless I think I might need to blow my photo up.)

So, now that your photo is all pretty, you can throw it up on Facebook or Twitter and call it good. However, one of the problems with social media is that albums of photos can be inconvenient, and of course, Twitter has no album at all. PicMonkey has a solution: Collage!

Just upload your photos and arrange! When you save your masterpiece, it’s downloaded as a single .jpg. Easy.

PicMonkey Collage.

A few caveats: PicMonkey is Flash-based, which mostly means that it won’t work on tablets. Also, as browsers move to HTML5, the developers will have to figure out what they want to do. Also, this site is free and it looks like they’ve decided to go with an add-supported version, but in the past the plan looked to be asking people to pay for anything with a crown. I hope the ads work out, but the non-crown features make this site well worth adding to your arsenal of tools.

Overall, nothing else will let you edit a photo as quickly. And the results look GOOD. It takes your enthusiastic amateur and makes him or her look like a pro.

 


Emily Thompson is the Learning Technologies Librarian at SUNY Oswego in Oswego, New York. She spends her days seeking out new tools to help her students make their projects as awesome as possible. She also co-hosts the LiTTech podcast on edreach.us. You can follow her on Twitter @librarianofdoom.

Guest Post: Using Google Fusion Tables for Address Data

Today we’re featuring a guest post by Ilana Barnes. Take it away, Ilana!

Data is out there. I would refrain from saying good data is out there, or even relevant data is out there. As Kim said, we are in the “year of the infographic,” and we are equally in the “year of the unruly excel document.” When one is lucky enough to receive large amounts of data that is relevant, they may stare down at their excel or SPS document and then say: “Now what?”

One type of data becoming increasingly accessible is addresses. More and more companies and organizations post their address online. They are aggregated up into somewhat tidy databases like RefUSA and OneSource, accessible on many college campuses and local public libraries. Once bound in the white pages, this address data is the meat of many new and exciting ways to research. With information about where companies are, you can find a great number of exciting things. For example, the location of food stores in Detroit can help you locate food deserts. The location of Targets in the United States can help you predict where next to put your big box store. I just had a chat yesterday with a professor who researches how industry is affected by natural disasters, using location-based disaster data and addresses as well as other indicators.

Working with data may not be a common task for all academic librarians, but there are a lot of possibilities once you start diving in.  As a future Business Librarian, I learned about better ways of dealing with address data because so many students were asking location-based questions. Where do I put the Walmart? Which city has the most crime and where? For those who feel a little less steady diving into data-related questions, address data can be a good, solid place to start exploring. Beyond the reference desk,  questions that librarians ask can be answered through use of address data. Where are comparable services to my library? Where are the different campuses of your university where you trying a specific information literacy strategy and where are the campuses of your partner institutions?

Sold on address data? Excellent! We’re going to go over some tools for working with address data. Firstly, if all you want to do is create a map of addresses, BatchGeo is an excellent tool for taking all those address and putting them on a Google map. You can code 150,000 address per IP per day, and create a Google map which you can then enhance using the Google interface, either drawing polygons or adding metadata. But what if you want to do some other visualizations?

Google Fusion Tables is an awesome product. Google Fusion Tables also can geocode addresses into a Google map.

Why I like Fusion Tables:

  • Different types of visualization
  • Sweet, sweet fusion. The merging capabilities of Google Fusion
  • Collaboration. You can share your data sets relatively securely via Google Fusion Tables with research partners. This is great for us librarians, who often want to work together on large, spreadsheet heavy projects.
  • You can link it up to Google Refine for those more squirrelly datasets.

Here’s an example with some roughly 300 gas stations in the city of Detroit.
Here is the data as it looks in Excel. Ugly.

Ugly data in Excel.

Here’s what it looks like geocoded (editor’s note: for an interactive version of these charts, see Ilana’s blog):

Geocoded data.

Another view (this time using some sales data as well):

Another view (more pie charty). I understand this is a terrible pie chart, but it’s very aesthetically pleasing.

Pie Chart

For a very effective run-through what makes Google Fusion Tables wonderful, check out this YouTube video from Google.


Ilana Barnes is Business Information Specialist (Assistant Professor of Library Science) at Purdue University since May 2012. In April, she graduated from the University of Michigan with a Masters of Science in Information. Her main research interests are information literacy, data, GIS and gamification. You can visit her website at http://ilanabarnes.com or follow her on Twitter, @librarianailana.

Guest Post: Flipboard For Staying Current

Google Reader is a great tool for organizing all the blogs, sites, and content you subscribe to, but it’s not always the most visually stunning. It’s a list of endless posts from various blogs, and it can be overwhelming, especially when you have 1000+ items unread. That’s where Flipboard comes in!

Flipboard is an app for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch that organizes your content from across the web in a visually pleasing way. This makes reading an experience rather than a chore. Instead of a list of posts, Flipboard is more akin to a magazine. It displays content in boxes with images, the title of the post, where it’s from, and the first few lines. That layout gives you enough info to tell if you want to spend time reading the post. And instead of scrolling endlessly down a page you flip through content like the pages of a book. It’s a natural motion and makes going through content much more fun.

For the things you care about and want to stay current with, Flipboard allows you to add it all. You can add your entire Google Reader account and read it that way. You can also just choose a file within your Google Reader account to make your reading experience that much more tailored. I have a folder of only my library blogs, so when I feel like catching up on professional reading I’ll go to Flipboard. There’s no way that I can read everything, so with this app I can just jump in the stream of content and not worry about missing something. I’ll read the few that are interesting and come back again later.

It also let’s you add Twitter lists, people, or searches. I set it up for certain Twitter lists of people that consistently share good content. This makes it easy for me to read library related posts that I might not find elsewhere. In addition, it lets you add things like Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and Flickr. If you come across content that you really like, there are options to share it all from within the app.

If you’re looking for a positive user experience and a new way to consume content that doesn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed, Flipboard is a great option.


This guest post is by Andy Burkhardt, Emerging Technologies Librarian at Champlain College. His professional interests include technology, learning, social media, and new approaches to library problems. He writes about these on his award winning blog Information Tyrannosaur. His unprofessional interests include dinosaurs.

You don’t have to be just a Libtechtalk groupie. Did you know that this blog is looking for guest authors? Contact ctomlinson at towson.edu to find out how you too can write about your favorite technologies and how they might be used in academic libraries.