23 Mobile Things #12 – Books, Books & More Books

I am an equal-opportunity reader when it comes to format, and I usually have three formats going at once–print, ebook, and e-audio. Thus, Free Books seemed a good choice to check FreeBooksout!  It turned out to offer a tight, user-friendly platform. It’s highlighting and notes option would be helpful for students studying a text, or a language lover who enjoys revisiting favorite passages. While I don’t have plans to read any classics right now (it’s hard enough keeping up with the new releases!), it is a useful platform to recommend to patrons who are interested in reading them.

Next, I downloaded the YALSA Teen Book Finder. I work with all ages, and am trying to bolster my teen RA skills in particular. YALSA’s app offered a central resource Yalsoto search their book recommendations and award-winners. Awesome!  It features different ways to search (title, author, genre, year, award) as well as an excellent “booklist” option that pulls together lists like “Great Graphic Novels for Teens” and “Teens’ Top Ten.” All of the titles have been vetted by librarians. I can definitely see using YALSA’s app myself as I read more YA literature, as well as recommending it to teen patrons looking for a good book.

23 Mobile Things #11 – Library & Reference

Apps SPPLapp WCLapp




I checked out the apps of St. Paul Public Library, Hennepin County Library, and Washington County Library. All three were powered by Boopsie and featured similar configurations and offerings. The interface was simple and streamlined with basic information about the libraries. On each you could search the catalog, look up location information and hours, and access Overview.  The catalog search options were fairly limited, with no advanced search (that I found) or spell correct.  Still easier to use than the full website on a small screen!

SPPL’s app had a few more bells and whistles than HCL and WCL. It offered condensed and expanded (full website) access to Overdrive, as well as “New Books” and “Research” sections. Under Research, many of the database links simply prompted you to download that particular database app to search (e.g. Gale, Ebsco, Morningstar).

With the prevalence of smart phones and various mobile devices, an app seems essential for any library system to facilitate access to its resources and information and remain relevant as our patrons, who are increasingly sophisticated users of technology. Yet, in the face of budget constraints many rural systems remain without some of the latest technology, like mobile apps. Which makes me wonder if there is funding specifically to assist rural library systems with technology upgrades… Any suggestions?

23 Mobile Things #10 – Sharing Photos

Intragram has captured many a heart (especially teen hearts) as a preferred social networking tool. That was confirmed over Easter weekend when my 15 year old cousin said, as we were looking at photos of her cousin in New Zealand, “I wish she [other cousin] would use Instragram, it’s so much easier for photos.”  Bam. I felt a responsibility to check it out.

instagram I first downloaded Instragram last summer, but failed to do anything with it. When I went to revisit my account, I found that someone else had kept it busy! My account had been hacked! A young man had been using it for his own. A little perturbed, I deleted the account. Sorry buster.

One more try. Once I downloaded the app onto my iPad and connected to my Facebook friends, I found quite a few already using Instragram. In scrolling through my feed, I had to agree with my cousin. It is a pretty good avenue to share photos. But, you must to be the photo-sharing type to really use and benefit from it.

That being said, a picture is worth a thousand words and I can envision myself being more communicative with photos than with text via Facebook (…not that you can’t share photos on Facebook). So maybe this Instagram thing could be a better fit for Andrea-the-sharer.

Professionally, I think Instagram could be fantastic for libraries, and many libraries have already caught on including Hennepin County. Instagram seems a little less ‘regulated’ or formalized than Facebook, as Facebook is more widely used by libraries right now and has made it into our “marketing plans.” Instagram is an easy way to share what’s going on around the library. Come acrossinstagram_HC a hilarious title that clearly needs to be weeded? Snap. Want to share a snazzy display you created? Snap.  (Hennepin County Library, left)

23 Mobile Things #9 – Taking & Editing Photos

To be honest, I don’t do a lot of photo editing.  I make due with my limited abilities as a photographer without bells or whistles. That being said, the photos editors I tried were a ton of fun. I downloaded LINE Camera and Aviary.

AviaryBoth performed your basic photo editing functions–resizing, color adjustments, brighten/sharpen, etc. Aviary was more visually appealing and streamlined. I liked the full menu of alterations aligned neatly along the bottom of the editing window. It also had numerous frames to choose from.

LINLINE CameraE Camera offered a few wild portrait adjustments, including face-slimming and nose reshaping. Wow!  LINE also had a collage option, which I could see using at work to pull together photos from events and posting or printing.

While I may not dramatically alter my simplistic approach to photography, it was fun to see what’s out there. I can see using more of the alterations in a work environment than for personal use.


23 Mobile Things #8 – Social Media Management Tools

I never had the urge to streamline my social media activity into one app, as they serve distinct purposes in my mind  (…and I kinda wanted to skip Thing 8, but that grand prize kept me motivated!! 🙂 ) I knew of HootSuite and its use within a business setting, so decided to check out Cloze instead. One of Cloze’s taglines is “Stand out from the noise. Be human.” I found this to be intriguing. Cloze is capitalizing on our overexposure to social media and information overload generally.

Cloze Cloze analyzes your social channels–email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter–to determine your closest online friends and reports their activity. Supposedly your  “best friends” are revealed through their algorithm, but I found their algorithm was not especially accurate. (You can modify their ranking, though.) It also allows you to perform basic functions of those accounts. For example, you can comment on, like, or repost a post in Facebook via Cloze. Although that’s about it! The layout was easy enough to navigate. I still don’t see using Cloze or any management tool personally. Unnecessary!

That being said, an unexpected function, “Add to News,” may be a tool to consider for social media teams to coordinate communications. This function allows for private recommendations among coworkers about what to share via social media channels. Currently, my library system’s approach to social media lacks some organization and personnel, so Cloze may be one option to consider when working with a team. From what I could tell, you can’t time a post–wherein with HooteSuite you can. I see that as a major plus for HooteSuite.

23 Mobile Things #7 – Content Saving & Sharing

pinterestI took this Thing to explore Pinterest.  I already had the app on my iPad. It has just never clicked into place amid the other apps and ways I keep track of my life. The visual aspect of Pinterest appealed to me, so this Thing was a good way to force myself give Pinterest another chance.

I set out to find ideas for my branch’s summer reading program–and hit the jackpot. So many, in fact, that it was a little overwhelming…until I just ‘let go’ and flowed board to board, pinning this and that, not worrying that I finished looking at a particular board before moving on. (Yes, that was a problem!)

Using an image to spark an idea was just my kind of brainstorming. As I was board surfing, I created new boards to build upon later (i.e. ideas for Reader’s Advisory displays, book lists, kitchens).

Besides a personal/professional tool for brainstorming, I can definitely see using Pinterest to create virtual displays for my library system or branch. There are already great examples of libraries using Pinterest for a variety of purposes, including book lists, local history, or other special interests (Seattle Public Library’s “Shelfies” board is hilarious!).

Teenland: Lessons from my first teen program

After rereading my post, I realized I didn’t mentioned the event name until midway down. So, here it is: Divergent Trivia!


In grad school, it’s all quite hypothetical when it comes to developing new program ideas: “Do this, this, and that, but the truth is, you won’t know until you try. And it may not work but you still gotta try”…in highly academic terms, of course. Teen programming included, and perhaps even more of an enigma for me, having rather limited experience working with teens.

I took all of that into consideration and didn’t jump into teen programming immediately, despite my mighty plans of a teen advisory council, book club, gaming nights, and more. I decided to wait until I had a teen ally. How else would my teen-tentative self know where to start?

DivergentWe’ll call my ally TeenZ. I met her one bone-chilling Minnesota evening at the circ desk. I noticed TeenZ had been to the library a few times of recent, and I asked if she might be interested in being part of a book group or other program for I Love to Read Month in February. Worst case scenario, TeenZ might say “no thanks” or “get away from me weird librarian.” To my surprise, she said “sure!” and that “especially if we had a prize and did something around Divergent.”) “Awesome,” I said. “Want to help with planning?” And so I put myself on the waiting list for Divergent, realized I wouldn’t get it in time (40 holds), then bought it instead. I should have read it already anyways, right?

Fast forward two months. We held Divergent Trivia! one Tuesday after school at the HS media center. 10 teens showed up, and TeenZ and her friend pretty much ran the show. Lots of food (Subway, candy, soda), prizes (gift certificates and Divergent trilogy) and fun (hard core Divergent fans!) ensued.  A few even said things like “What book are we doing next?” …to my utter amazement and extreme satisfaction. My first teen program was a success!

I’ll save you the rest of the details and jump straight to Lessons Learned:

  1. Get teens involved in program planning, for many reasons selfish and unselfish. Why not involve the population you strive to serve–and improve your odds for success?  It can also make it easier for those of us who are new to and/or a little scared of working with teens.
  2. Let them take on some responsibility. I took TeenZ on as a partner, and I could tell she enjoyed taking ownership of some parts of the planning process and probably learned a thing or two along the way (and lightened my workload). We began with brainstorming. She said, “A book club might be kind of boring.” Enough said. We agreed upon a better idea–a game! She created flyers and handouts to distribute at school and even got the event in the daily announcements.
  3. Give your teen collaborator props. Millennials, not unlike most people, are said to require recognition for hard work (according to miscellaneous sources and conference workshops!). I delegated hosting to TeenZ after I opened the program–so lots of responsibility and recognition there! I also sent TeenZ a thank you note and a gift certificate following the event. Although that may be considered standard thank-you practice.
  4. Ten participants is a good start. At first I thought 10 teens didn’t seem like enough for all that went into planning. I didn’t quite understand why, with all of our promotions, with the entire 10th grade class having read the book, and with the allure of food and prizes, we didn’t get more than 10. In retrospect, I think 10 enthusiastic participants is fantastic! I introduced 10 teens to the public library and I got to know my teen ally and the HS librarian better.

There’s always things you could do differently, like wait until the rest week between sports in March, or create more questions (45 wasn’t enough to fill 1.5 hours!), but you learn those things along the way. Now onto summer reading programming for teens (and children and families)…

If you’d like more information or have suggestions, I love to share so leave me a comment!

23 Mobile Things #6 – Creating & Editing Docs

QuickofficeQuickoffice seemed a good bet for Thing 6, as I use Microsoft Office applications daily at work and Google Drive often for an easy cloud option. I was a little skeptical about its usefulness alongside Drive, though. Why use both? Drive can convert documents to Microsoft Office formats. So, I challenged Quickoffice: Prove to me you are better than or at least play well with Drive. 

First off, I noticed I couldn’t open a Drive document in Quickoffice. (What?) I could view my Drive documents in Quickoffice, but selecting one opened Drive for editing instead of editing in Quickoffice. I tried the reverse. In Drive, I attempted to open a Drive document in Quickoffice, but it opened as a PDF in Quickoffice. 2 minuses. (Perhaps I am missing something?)

I could, however, open a Word doc (attached to an email, for my test) in Quickoffice, then edit and email it back as a Word document. Plus. Great for handling work documents that are usually in Microsoft Office. In Drive, you can’t export a document as a Word document in the app. I had to use the desktop version (on the iPad) in a compatible browser, which Safari apparently isn’t (Minus). I could do that, but it isn’t quite as efficient. I guess there have to be work-arounds in all applications.

As for the app itself, Quickoffice performs quite well. I like that it includes the tracking and comments functionality of the desktop software, which is helpful when working with others. Another plus.

VERDICT: While you are not better than Drive, Quickoffice (and you don’t play especially well with it either), you are different and worth the space on my iPad–if only for the option to edit and share Microsoft Office documents quickly. For my own purposes, I’ll likely continue to use Drive for creating and editing documents (its cloud-based platform is convenient), and I can work simultaneously with others on a document in Drive.

23 Mobile Things #5 – Notetaking

Springpad was calling out my name for this ‘Thing’…Can I really save recipes and compose a grocery list without typing out a word? Count me in!

SpringpadMost apps have been relatively easy to decode so far, at least for the functions that appealed to me most. But for the life of me, I could not get the recipe-to-grocery list function of Springpad to perform on my iPad (or iPhone, grrr!). I consulted Springpad support to research the issue, but the online tutorial didn’t reflect the version of its app on my iPad. I opened up my laptop to further investigate. Low and behold, the Springpad website offered more functionality that the Apple app, including the coveted recipes-to-grocery list function. The fact that I can’t use it as anticipated on my iPad is a little disappointing, though, as it is unlikely I’ll crack open my laptop when I want to look at recipes and build a grocery list.

Outside of the grocery list function (if you can imagine a world outside of food…ok, food and books), Springpad has other uses! You can make lists of just about anything imaginable, and link images and websites to your lists. You can make your lists public or keep them private. You can also invite others to view and edit content.

I can certainly see using Springpad as a tool for collaboration among librarians in my system, whether to share book lists or programming ideas, but also to work together on projects (Springpad’s “Work Project” function). You can create and share task lists, notes, and files. I don’t know that it would replace a document sharing platform, like Google Drive, (the “Notes” section is bare bones), but it does offer additional functionality that is useful in working on team projects.

dragonJust a quick note on Dragon Dictation. I didn’t download the app (gasp!), but in reading about it a little bit, the app seems a wonderful tool for one of my patrons in particular who has Parkinson’s and recently began to write. He no longer can write with a pencil or pen, and is struggling to type. Dragon Dictation could help him continue to write, while it may still require a ‘helper’ to edit the transcription. The app could afford him greater independence. Very cool!

23 Mobile Things #4 – Keeping Up

I use an RSS feed on my phone to keep up with blogs, mostly, and love the idea of Flipboard and Zite to keep up-to-date with professional information. Thus, I explored both apps.

FlipboardIconMy first impression of Flipboard was that it is eye-catching and easy to use. I found that adding articles to ‘magazines’ was a convenient way to curate content of interest, not unlike Pinterest’s boards. I am definitely a person that when seeing something I want to read or share (now or later on) needs to bookmark it in some fashion or it will be lost. I doubt I’d use Flipboard as a primary means to access FB or Twitter specifically, as I prefer to go directly to those apps for that content; but, I could see that adding those feeds to my Flipboard page may catch my attention if I happen to be using it.

ZiteIconAt first the ‘smart’ part of Zite…and it’s name…turned me off a bit (I clear my cookies regularly). However, once I downloaded the app and started using it I found that I liked Zite’s content recommendations. It is also simple to set up and use. There’s a sort of a manufactured serendipity there as I see articles I may not otherwise have sought out in my interest areas. I don’t have to go in search of them, as they are right there in my Zite feed. I didn’t see a kind of ‘magazine’ or ‘bookmarks’ options, though plenty of ways to share an article through social media, email, etc.

I am a little torn between the two apps. Sure I could keep both, but I’d prefer they were combined! ZiteBoard, FlippedZite, or something. I like the magazine design of Flipboard, but I like the flexibility and convenience of choosing topics and Zite’s smart suggestions–it was a sinch to choose topics like public libraries, librarianship, and information literacy as topics of particular interest. For now, I I’ll give both a shot and may the best app win!