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Tech Tools Update Workshop

CT State Library -  December 2013


Need a chance to catch up with the ever-changing stream of new (and not so news) tech tools? There's always something new that sounds interesting, fun and maybe even useful! But sometimes it's hard to find time to test them out and figure out what to do with them. 


During this workshop we'll look at social media services that can help you connect with your community, as well as productivity tools that can help you during your workday. You'll have a chance to explore lots of tools (new and old!) and share ideas with your colleagues. You'll come away with some new tips and tricks in your tool-kit and and decide which tools are right for you, your library, your community. No question is too silly, bring them all!! And share YOUR favorites tools and tips too! 


What follows is a somewhat arbitrary list of tools, there are tons more that we might cover. What we cover will depend on the participants' interests. This workshop is all about exploring, sharing, playing and having fun. 


What do you want to learn and share today? Try out our backchannel and share


Social Media Tools

Tool name What is it? How can you use it? Examples
Facebook Open Graph Search
  • Will allow for far more detailed searches of content in Facebook. Want to find all your friends who enjoy fly fishing and live in Vermont? 
  • You won't be able to find anything that you can't already see. Info about your friends will be available and info that others have set to public. Will make us more aware of what we're sharing.
  • Opportunity for libraries? Share more content about collections, expertise and resources. Will all be much more findable.
  • For an interesting read on why libraries should embrace this, read Phil Bradley's Why the new Facebook Graph Search is important for librarians 

Wolfram Alpha Facebook
  • Connect with your Facebook account to see data about your facebook presence 
  • Analytics on your twitter account (and anyone else!)
  • Who you interact with most, who RT's you, when you're posting, etc
  • Export a spreadsheet of your tweets.  


  • Invaluable tool for posting content to Twitter, Facebook.
  • Add on to browser and on mobile devices.  
  • Pulls together content you've posted to a variety of social media tools and turns it into one big colorful board of content. 
  • Can be embedded on other web pages.
  • Could be a way to pull together town or campus news.  
  • " is a social media search tool that allows users to search for conversations surrounding the topics that they care about most. Whether it be your favorite sport, favorite food, celebrity, or your company's brand name; can help you join in on the conversations that you care about most."






Tool name What is it? How can you use it? Examples
Eat Your Books 
  • Recipe indexes for tons of cookbooks & magazines. Can also add your own recipes. 
  • Free account lets you add up to 5 of your cookbooks.  Easily search ALL the indexes at once.   


  • A community for sharing ideas and stories.
  • Open for reading right now, but only selected people are writing.   
  • Terrific commercial service for creating research guides. 
  • But freely searchable without a subscription or fees. Use it to find great subject guides and resources.  
  • (putting this here for now - need to reorganize this page!)
  • "Newsana is an online community of experts and thought leaders who share, discuss and work together to choose the five most essential news stories and ideas of the day on the topics of their expertise" (via" crunchbase)




Web Presence - quick, easy, free

Tool name What is it? How can you use it? Examples
  • Create a single page that's all about YOU. Perfect for linking to other web sites and social media sites that you use.


  • Presentation, website, photo gallery, special exhibits
  • This tool has many options to create beautiful web sites.
  • Would be great for a photo gallery or a special library exhibit.
  • Free tool for creating websites, personal portfolio, project site, learning journal, news blog and more. For about $20/year, you can have your own URL (instead of a address)


Google Sites
  • Free and full of options. Lots of templates and designs to pick from to get you started or start from scratch.


  • Free, hosted web site building tool. Simple drag & drop interface, but with professional looking results. Has Pro (fee) option with additional features at reasonable price
add notes   



Backchannel, Group Communications, FAQs

Tool name What is it? How can you use it? Examples
  • When twitter just isn't cutting it!  Set up a conversation on Branch and ask others to join in. 
  • If people want to take the conversation off in multiple directions, they can add a branch to the original conversation. 
  • "Mightybell is a place to create colorful online groups with friends and like-minded people around what interests you.
  • You can host a new space for a topic, interest, project, or passion for free in seconds. Then, you can choose a theme, make it public or invite only, and bring in your friends and people who share your interests with an easy series of invitations." 
  • This would be a great place to run a book club, share and discuss ideas for a project, post information for your community, 


  • "Start groups with the people already in your contacts. When you send a message, everyone instantly receives it. It’s like a private chat room that works on any phone." Part of Skype
Today's Meet
  • Need a tool that's twitter-like, but is more private and can be used by all for a single project, class, conference? With Today's Meet you can set up web-based chat room, share the URL with your group and start sharing ideas.
  • Provide a way for customers to ask questions.
  • Store the answers for others to search.
  • Limited account is free.


Curation & Gathering Tools

Tool name What is it? How can you use it? Examples
  • Think of this as a bookmarking tool, but based on saving images that serve as links back to sites.
  • Great for saving photos, pictures of places you want to travel, images of your commuity, art, book covers and more.
  • You can organize your images into any number of "boards" based on your own interests.
  • Libraries are creating boards around book covers, activities, authors, events and more.

  • A great resource for news and articles on an amazing range of topics.
  • Each list of articles, called a "scoop", is created by someone who is interested in that topic. No one coordinates this, so some scoops might be great, others not so great.
  • Explore and find a topic of interest to you. Subscribe to get updates.
  • Feeling passionate about a topic? Create your own scoop and share your knowledge.


  • Another popular curation tool. This one makes it easy to add photos, web pages, quotes, tweets, videos and other content to each 'story' you create. Easy to add commentary on each item added.
  • Stories can be embedded on other web pages for an easy way to keep a web page up to date with recent news and resources.
  • This would be a handy way to highlight news and updates about your commuity, an issue facing the community, a library budget vote, news about activites in the library and more.
  • Turn your social media feeds into a newspaper. Add your twitter account and let find the best content from everyone you follow and turn that content into your daily newspaper. Handy! 
  • Uses other social media and topical news resources too.
  • Students could us this to create a custom paper for keeping up on a selected topic. eg: some science news sources and use keywords to surface just the content a student is interested in.  
  • Create a newspaper for your organization -add just your own blogs, tweets, news sites, etc.
  • Or create a community by using sources mentioning your community.
  • Both Learnist and MentorMob let you curate learning materials. Kind of a "playlist" for learning resources. 
  • Use to step learners through materials you want them to cover
  • Students, staff and communitiy members could create and share their own lists of resources 
  • Both Learnist and MentorMob let you curate learning materials. Kind of a "playlist" for learning resources. 
  • Use to step learners through materials you want them to cover
  • Students, staff and communitiy members could create and share their own lists of resources 
  • Similar in idea & focus to Learnist &  MentorMob. Intended for the education market. 
  • Easy to use, search tools incorporated into editing screen.
  • Add photos, videos, documents, links to web sites.
  • Easy to edit and rearrange content.  
  • Other members can leave notes.  
  • How Would You Fill an EdCanvas? : Joyce Valenza's ideas on uses in schools. 




Tool name What is it? How can you use it? Examples
  • How do I love thee, let me count the ways! This web and mobile app helps you keep track of your notes, ideas, documents, images, and more. Highlight bits of web pages you want to save and clip directly to Evernote. Install the software and apps on every device you own and your notes will be with you everywhere. Everything is synchronized to your main account on the web. Content can be shared with others if you like.  Free & Premium versions. Introductory Tour
  • Free mobile app that turns your twitter stream, rss feeds and other news sources into a magazine type of reading experience.


  • Don't have time to read all the interesting articles you run across during the day? Just click on your Instaper bookmarklet and they're saved to your Instapaper account. Read them later via a web page or a mobile app. Stories can also be sent to your Kindle.


  • Like Instapaper, saves articles for later reading. Best feature is the browser tool bar button that transforms a web page into a distraction free reading experience.


ifttt – If This Then That
  • A magic tool that simply takes care of repetitive tasks for you.
  • For example, let it monitor Amazon’s feed of free books and send you an email when there’s a new one.
  • Or if you see something on twitter that catches your eye, fave it and ifttt can send it to your Evernote account for you to check out later.
  • When I post something to delicious, ifttt also posts it to my diigo account, which keeps my bookmarks safely stored in two places.
  • There are thousands of ideas for using ifttt. Spend a few minutes exploring their tools and recipes to see how useful this can be.


  • Like IFTTT, but has some channels that IFTTT doesn't include
  • Only 5 free recipes or "zaps" as they're called, 5 hour synch
  • Fee for more zaps and 15 minute synch.
  • Billed as the "business" IFTTT 
Bliss Control
  • Easily manage all your social network settings from one screen.



  • A handy and very simple to-do list that synchronizes between your various devices. and bitly
  • Link shorteners - handy if you need to send out a link that is very long and likely to break in the middle.
  • Handy free document sharing. Up to 250 MB for free, without any signup. Up to 2 GB with registration. Files stored for 7 days. 
Volunteer Spot
  • Free and easy online sign up sheets, volunteer scheduling software, and volunteer management software help coordinate parents and volunteers quickly and easily. 


  • Let others see your desktop computer screen quickly and simply.
  • Just click the button on the website and let the Java app run. You'll see a link to send to others so they can see you your screen.
  • Viewers can be on a computer, smartphone, tablet, etc.
  • No signup needed. Free. Create a free account to claim your custom URL.
  • Your contacts can use that URL to join your "broadcasts". No audio at this time. Handy for those times when you need an 'fake' email address for those times when you don't want to use your real email address. MailDrop gives you a random email address or you can make up your own:  Your inbox on this service is limited to 10 messages, if you don't access it within 24 hours, the emails are deleted. No security, so don't use it for anything important. Similar sort of service that has been around for a long time. Load page, receive a random email address. Any email sent to the page will be there for 10 minutes. Time can be extended with the click of a link. Handy for using in workshops where students don't have access to their email.   


Presentation & Screen Sharing Tools

Tool name What is it? How can you use it? Examples 
  • Amazing iPad app to create the simple, elegant and effective slide decks.
  • Search only finds CC licensed photos
  • Slide decks are published on the web and can be embedded elsewhere.
  • Upload your presentation slides. Then turn on your web cam (or not!) and microphone to record your presentation. The result is a presentation that includes your slides, with your audio and if you use your web cam, then you’ll appear next to your slides. Some limits on what can be done for free.
Zipcast via Slideshare
  • Slideshare is a great place to share your presentation slides and find slides that others have shared. With their zipcast feature, you can invite others to attend a live presentation. You talk as you show your slides, they can listen. 
  • Like Slideshare, you can upload and share a presentation slide deck. Upload in PDF format only, no option to include slide notes or add audio. Includes "likes", stats, downloads, embedding and linking option. Unlike Slideshare, the interface is delightfully uncluttered. This is the biggest appeal to me. 



  • Handy tool for recording what you do on your computer screen. Great for doing a quick tutorial for someone, recording a reference session, etc. Video is stored online. Send a link to share the video. Patrons can review what you showed them in the library or you can record a few quick tips to help someone with an online reference question.
  • This handy service lets you show your computer desktop to other people. It’s great for showing someone how to use a library search tool or some other tool. And it’s terrific for helping others troubleshoot a computer problem, just ask them to start a joinme “meeting” and give you control of their desktop. If you don’t want to be the computer troubleshooter for your whole family, don’t tell them about this one! NO LONGER FREE


  • Hold a group meeting online with up to 200 attendees. Free, but no recording option. Fee options include recordings of meeting.
  • Up to 6 people on video at one time. Screensharing, slide presentations and more.  


Google Hangouts
  • Create animated videos, in the paper-cutout style of Common Craft.
Storehouse iPad app - easy to use, create visual stories. Easy to share.  My Example


Media, Photos, Audio, Editing

Tool name What is it? How can you use it? Examples
  • Easy to use search tool for Creative Commons licensed images.
  • Provides a snippet of code to embed attribution on a web page.
  • add the URL for a video. The video runs in one pane. Write your notes in the adjacent pane. Saved to your Google Drive or Evernote. 
  • Tool for save images to the web. Great for adding images to web pages or sharing with others.
  • Copy an image to your clipboard or use the PrintScreen key to capture your screen.
  • Paste it to the snaggy page, crop, annotate and save.
  • URL can be used to share image with others or add to webpages.
  • "Design beautiful online flyers and publish instantly."
  • Great for creating a single page collage, poster, flyer, event announcment.
  • Create colorful printable posters for the library or classroom. 
  • Could be used to do a visual presentation.
  • Can embed content  
  • Similar to Animoto, free account allows for up to 3 minutes/30 photos. 
  • No embedding feature at this point.  
  • Turn your photos into a music video. Great for highlighting photos from a library event, to promote an upcoming event, projects for teens/kids,, etc. 


  • Free web based image editing.


  • Free web based image editing.
  • Edit hotos, create collages.


Photoshop Express
  • Lots of great editing tools here, not as full featured as the full Photoshop package, but then that's not free!


  • Free desktop software to organize your photos. Offers some editing. Nice face recognition feature. And makes great photo collages.


  • Fun way to share photos from your mobile device.
  • Snap a photo and upload easily and quickly.
  • View friends photo in a simple to use, fast to load interface.
  • Share photos to other social spaces.
  • Now has a web-based page for viewing photos, as well as mobile app.
  • Instalibrary: The (UN)Uses of Instagram in Libraries


  • Create fun posters & collages from your photos, clip art, seasonal backgrounds and more. Download images as jpg files that could be used for webpages and more. Fee for printing posters. 


Big Huge Labs
  • Fun site for using your photos to create posters, magazine covers, name badges and much more. Great projects for kids.


  • Make short recordings that can be embedded on your webpages or subscribed to via RSS.


Remote Storage, Sharing Documents, File Backup

Tool name What is it? How can you use it? Examples
  • Dropbox simply adds a folder to your computer. Drop a file in the folder and it is automatically uploaded to your account on the Dropbox web site. It also synchronizes with any other computers or mobile devices that you’ve installed Dropbox on. 
  • Public folders let you share files with others. Free account gives you 2 GB of storage, this isn’t enough to back up you’re whole hard drive, but it’s handy storage space.
  • I use it to make sure I have the files I’ll need for presentations and to share files with collaborators. 
  • Full disclosure! The link to Dropbox is my personal link, if you sign up, I get some extra free storage space. Thank you! :-)
  • You are backing up your computer files. Right?
  • This service isn't free. It backs up content on your computer and does it continuously, in the background. $50/year.
  • There are other services like this (Carbonite is one) but this is the only one I’ve used.


  • Free account automatically backs up your content in up to 3 popular online services including: Google Contacts, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, delicious and more.




  • Upload Word, PDF files and PowerPoint docs to share with others. Documents can be embedded on your web site.
  • Handy service to use for uploading and sharing documents. Multiple contributors can share content on one account.


  • Losing track of what you stored on which cloud service? Otixo helps you connect with all of them at once.


  • Upload slide presentations to share with others. Since these can be embedded on your website, you could easily share community meeting presentations, training presentations and so on.
Little Outliner 
  • Handy tool for creating an outline. Stores your file on your local computer.  
  • Take notes, outline a project, organize a presentation, etc.
  • One file only, local storage, free. 
  • An expanded version of Little Outliner.
  • Multiple files. all stored in your Dropbox account. 



Tool name What is it? How can you use it? Examples
Google Drive
  • Create documents and invite others to collaborate. Multiple users can be editing in realtime. Edits and revisions are tracked, older versions can be restored.  Word documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations and more. You can also create forms to collect feedback. Upload documents created on your computer for sharing also.


  • Designed for group collaboration and sharing files stored in a variety of cloud storage locations.
  • Add notes, team members can leave comments.
  • Add files and content from Dropbox, Evernote, Box and other cloud tools.  
  •  Simple tool to help you find the best time for an event, meeting, party, etc. Enter dates & times, send invitation to other attendees and everyone can select the dates/times that will work best for them.


  • Brainstorming, mindmapping tool with many options for organizing ideas, embedding media and collaborating.


  • Web based whiteboard for drawing, sketching, writing, organizing ideas. Invite others to collaborate, text & video chat with collaborators.


  • Very handy and simple tool for creating a simple poll.
  • Add a title, enter choices and publish.
  • Allows for multiple answers or a single answer.
  • Free, no signup required. 
  • Note - will lock users out if too many answers from same IP in a short time frame. Not great for classroom use.
  • Project management 
  • Set up tasks needed to complete a project and assign tasks to team members  
  • Team members can add comments.  


Lists of More Tools!




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