6 Libraries to Follow on Snapchat for Some Snapspiration

In 2015 I wrote the post 5 Universities Killing it on Snapchat since then, I have seen a of bevy brands harnessing the app in really creative ways. Coming from a library background, I naturally follow several libraries on Snapchat (see Libraries on Snapchat: A Directory for a comprehensive list) and I have been really impressed with a way a few librarians are promoting their collections, showcasing events, and engaging patrons with the use of emoji, GIFs, lenses, and filters. So today I thought I’d share a list of my favorite libraries on Snapchat to give you some “snapspiration” in your marketing endeavors:

Cape May County Library

Username: CMCLibrary

Standout Features: Not afraid to take a risk, CMClibrary is dipping their toes into Snapchat takeovers, allowing patrons to takeover the account for a day. They also are great about posting consistently and now appear on Snapchat Discover (which is an impressive feat in and of its on, as inclusion in Discover requires your public story to “reach a certain viewership threshold” (Wagner, 2017)).

The Webb Middle School

Username: libfeet

Standout Features: Hannah Byrd Little was an early Snapchat adopter is amazing when it comes to using lenses. I like this example with the Shakespeare bust because it shows her creativity and the fact that lenses aren’t just for people or even books with faces!

University of Limerick Library

Username: libraryul

Standout Features: This librarian has mastered the art of Bitmoji, GIFs, and all around engaging snaps. I also love how she keeps with the spirit of Snapchat and prioritizes communication components in her snaps.


Jacksonville Public Library Teen Advisory Board

Username: jpl_tab

Standout Features: JPL is fantastic at incorporating calls to action (CTAs) and using links in their snaps. Snapchat now offers users the ability to add URLs to their snaps, allowing users to “swipe up” to read more, or in this case, put a hold on a library book.


Commerce Library

Username: librarycommerce

Standout Features: This library is awesome at incorporating contests that organically fit into patrons’ day to day lives. They utilize free books, gift cards, and other tactics to get users physically into the library. They also make it personal with fun Bitmoji and pictures of librarians.


Cheshire Library

Username: cheshirelibrary

Standout Features: The librarian at Cheshire library is a master at capitalizing on “tentpole holidays” (national events that recur every year like Black History Month, National Limerick Day, #MayThe4thBeWithYou, etc). They are also great at promoting their library collection with features like “Book of the Day.”

I hope you find this list useful! I also recommend following @epircreads for somebookish inspiration. They are really effective at providing book synopses using images and text. If there’s any library you think should be added to the list please let me know in the comments!


New Session: Using Snapchat to Reach Library Patrons Workshop


I just wanted to send you all a quick note to let you know I’ll be teaching a Snapchat workshop for the ALA’s eLearning series. “Using Snapchat to Reach Library Patrons” will consist of two 90-minute sessions that will take place on Thursday, April 12, 2018 and Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 2:30pm Eastern. If you have any questions or want me to discuss anything specific please leave a message in the comments. I’m really looking forward to it and hope you all can attend!


Upcoming Workshop: Using Snapchat to Reach Library Patrons


I just wanted to send you all a quick note to let you know I’ll be teaching a Snapchat workshop for the ALA’s eLearning series. “Using Snapchat to Reach Library Patrons” will consist of two 90-minute sessions that will take place on August 24th and 31st at 1:30 Central. If you have any questions or want me to discuss anything specific please leave a message in the comments. I’m really looking forward to it and hope you all can attend!


Snapchat in the Library: Librarians Master an App to Reach Millennials- ALA Extended Article Version




I am very excited to announce my newest article that was published in ALA’s magazine: Snapchat in the Library Librarians: Master an App to Reach Millennials! For this article I had the opportunity to interview a variety of amazing librarians who are leveraging this app to reach their patrons. Librarians from K-12, public libraries, and academic libraries are all using Snapchat to communicate with their populations and are implementing really creative ways to do so. Due to the column space I was allotted I had to cut the last section out: Snapchat How Tos. I thought some of you might me interested in learning how to optimally create a Snapchat account in case you’re considering it for your library. So without further ado, here’s the full article (keep in mind it’s an earlier draft so it differs slightly than the one in ALA Trends). Enjoy!

Libraries Jumping On Board With Snapchat

A lot has changed in the five years since Snapchat arrived on the social media scene. It’s no longer the fledgling “disappearing message app” used solely by teens. Instead, it’s now the poster child for message focused social media applications that are growing in popularity among young users. It’s a platform that focuses on interaction, and capitalizes on the playful side of social media, providing a way for users to send “ephemera” back and forth between friends (Chafkin & Frier, 2016).

“Snapchat isn’t a place to showcase one’s popularity, it’s a place for interaction. It doesn’t require a public identity and you can’t see how many followers someone has, you can only follow and interact with people you care about” says Alanna Graves, Snapchat guru and Teen Services Librarian at Cape May County Library. Sarah Meisch-Lacombe, who handles Loyola Chicago Libraries’ Snapchat adds “I wanted to start a Snapchat account because I thought it would be a better way for students to interact with our physical space.”

The ability to interact with one another, utilize filters, toss in an emoji, and showcase one’s lighthearted side (without having to worry too much about one’s digital footprint or online popularity) are some of the many reasons millennials have flocked to this platform. This mass migration of millennials to Snapchat has prompted librarians across the globe to take notice. Over the past year library Snapchat accounts have started to pop up, and the librarians behind these accounts are finding incredibly innovative ways to use it to reach library patrons.

What’s the number one reason why librarians are choosing to join the Snapchat Revolution? It’s where the kids are. Hannah Byrd Little, middle school library director at The Webb School of Bell Buckle, shared “I struggled with communication because kids don’t read email anymore and they’ve moved away from Facebook and Twitter. That’s why I decided to create a Snapchat account.” Librarians are using Snapchat across the spectrum of education, even in elementary school. Leon Springs Elementary School librarian, Jennifer Eckert, finds Snapchat to be “most popular with kids in fourth and fifth grade.” Academic librarians, public librarians, and school librarians alike are finding ways to get creative with Snapchat and communicate with their patrons. Here are just some of the ways librarians are discovering how to use this growing platform:

Readers’ Advisory

Alanna Graves, started using Snapchat for the library’s #TeenBookTuesday back in November 2015. “Since introducing #TeenBookTuesday we have seen our featured books get checked out within a week after our snaps. It’s also a great way to interact with patrons. My desk is a little hard to find because it’s in the back, and since we introduced Snapchat, patrons now make a beeline for my desk because they remember my face” Alanna shares. Alanna has also found Snapchat to be an efficient tool for highlighting lesser known books with edgier topics. She stated that the anonymity of Snapchat allows patrons to check out books with subjects they might not feel comfortable asking her about in person.

Zinnia Bayardo, librarian at Bernal Middle School, also uses Snapchat for Readers’ Advisory. “We have a ‘Teen Tuesday’ and ‘What Are You Reading Wednesday’ every week where I’ll promote new books. These have been pretty successful, over the summer (when I was lagging a bit on my posts) I had students asking me when I was going to start posting for Teen Book Tuesday again. I also had one student tell me that she read one of my book recommendations that I shared on Snapchat. Our ‘What Are You Reading Wednesdays’ have become particularly popular because students really like seeing themselves” Zinnia shares.

Event/Program Promotion & News

Snapchat is a great tool for event and program promotions many librarians have found. Alanna Graves Snapchats during events at the multiple Cape May County library branches. She recommends snapping objects rather than patrons if your library has privacy restrictions. Sarah shares that she uses Snapchat to promote upcoming events like the library’s book sale and Hannah states that she likes to snap videos during school assemblies. Librarians also like to use Snapchat during the school year to disseminate relevant news to patrons. “Social media is where students are getting their news so it’s important that I share information out on those channels. Every morning I take a snap of the school schedule because it can be confusing to students. I also promote national and fun/interesting holidays on Snapchat,” Hannah expresses.

Behind the Scenes

Showcasing a behind-the-scenes look at the library is a popular way to engage the library community. This includes an inside look at spaces and objects in the library as well as a peek at what library staff and faculty are up to. Stacy Taylor, user experience librarian at Central Washington University, states “we do 10 second ‘elevator speeches’ with our library faculty.” Nancy Jo Lambert, librarian at Reedy High School Library, states “Students really like when we feature our teachers on Snapchat using filters, that’s the type of content that gets the most screenshots.” Sarah gives college students a peek at what academic library staff like to do after hours by taking videos of Loyola’s “Library Olympics” event. “Library Olympics is a staff event that we have every year. I like to take video of some of the events we do like ‘book on the head racing’ to give personality to our snaps, it’s better just posting static content.” Sarah also takes a “throwback Thursday” approach and highlights some old interesting books and magazine such as Vogue issues from bygone years.


To test the waters before they commit to an official Snapchat account, Nashville (Tenn.) Public Librarians Nicholas Tognoni and Josephine Wood created a Geofilter contest last summer. “We’re encouraging patrons to use iconic aspects of the library building and other local Geofilters as their design inspirations.” To ensure that their patrons were prepared for Geofilter creation, they held design workshops. “We took our traditional graphic design workshop that we hold every Monday and changed the focus to Geofilter design using Adobe Illustrator,” Tognoni said. “Using Illustrator and other professional software is a great way to teach teens skills that will later translate into jobs, and Geofilters work as natural marketing for the library.”

Teen Takeovers

An emerging trend that librarians are interested in are Teen Takeovers or Snapchat Ambassadorships. “This fall I want to start doing a Takeover Tuesday with our student workers” Stacy states. Niq and Josephine add “if we do start an account we’d like to allow teens to be content creators, maybe have them film a 3D printing session. Social media ambassadors are a great way to get community people to amplify your library’s message. We think it’s definitely a platform worth experimenting with.”

Snapchat How-Tos

Ready to start your own Snapchat account? The majority of the librarians I spoke to were Snapchat users before they decided to start one for their library. If you’re not a Snapchat native spend some time to learn how to use the platform. Stacy Taylor recommends really getting to know the platform before using it publically. Alanna (username: CMCLibrary) has offered that any librarians who want to test the platform out can add her to practice on. If you’re ready to jump in here are some recommendations from seasoned Snapchat librarians:

Administrative Buy-In: Most of the librarians launching a successful snapchat account cited having support from their directors, even if they didn’t completely understand Snapchat. Having a solid foundation of trust with their directors gave them to flexibility to implement and experiment with Snapchat. “I am entrusted with all our social media platforms so I didn’t really receive any push back from administration when I wanted to start a Snapchat account” states Stacy Taylor.

Account Promotion: Word-of-mouth was by far the most effective method for getting the word out about library Snapchat accounts. Signs/flyers, other social media platforms, and blog posts with the library’s username and/or snapcode were also popular ways of promotion. Niq and Josephine shared that they used social media promotion to target teen parents and word of mouth to target teens. On the K-12 level Hannah and Jennifer found assembly announcements to be effective. For high school students Nancy Jo conveys the need for a more secretive approach. “I have found the more ‘underground’ about promotion I am, the more interested students are. Students see me taking videos and photos around the library and ask what I’m doing. I very nonchalantly tell them ‘oh yeah, I’m just using snapchat.’ That really gets them intrigued.” No matter how librarians are promoting their accounts they all express the need to let patrons know that the library will not follow them back. Zinnia shares “In the beginning students were hesitant to follow us because they were worried I’d see their snaps. Once I told them I wouldn’t follow them back they were more willing to follow our account. Not following students back is my policy across all our social media accounts.”

Analytics: Currently Snapchat is a little skimpy when it comes to analytics. Alanna recommends counting screenshots, “I always take a still 10 second video of the book at the end of my video series, then I can see who takes screenshots of the book, I think this is a better metric than just relying on views.” Stacy states that she likes to utilize views across the entire Snapchat Story. “I like to see how many views our first picture gets vs our last picture; usually there’s a drop-off after the second or third which indicates that we might be posting too much about one thing.”

Overall librarians have found Snapchat to be a great tool for connecting with patrons where they’re at and sharing the story of what’s happening in their library. Sarah recommends that libraries “just go for it and experiment, don’t overthink or plan it out too much.” Zinnia shares that “there’s a trend of meeting students where they’re at, whether it’s regarding messaging, instruction, etc. and it’s important that we make it easy for students to get and learn information.”


“How Snapchat Built a Business By Confusing Olds.” Bloomberg.com. Accessed September 7, 2016. http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-how-snapchat-built-a-business/.


*Quotations in this article have been modified for article flow and clarity


Incorporating Google Ads into Information Literacy Instruction


According to an article by The Verge’s James Vincent, many teens can’t tell the difference between ads and search results in Google. He reports that researchers at UK’s telecoms watchdog Ofcom discovered that approximately only 33% of 12-15 year olds and 20% of children between the ages of 8-11 were able to tell the difference between Google advertisements and search results. This article comes at a time where privacy issues are coming to the forefront of many online discussions (Greenwald, 2014; Henry, 2012; Valdes, 2015) and librarians are working hard to ensure that students are properly informed during their online research.

As librarians are now well aware of, growing up in the digital age doesn’t guarantee research savvy. Additionally, many students have an over-inflated perception of their search abilities leading to mistakes when it comes to academic research (Georgas, 2014). Google and many other companies use advertisements that are designed to look very similar to organic content (which includes the “promoted” posts that Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook implement in users’ social media feeds). What was fascinating to me is that while I have never had a problem bypassing Google Ads, organic search results are not as easily differentiated between by the iGen and millennial generations.

The aforementioned Verge article got me thinking about the next generation of academic library users and how they will be needing additional instruction when it comes to academic research. Also, even though the article is does not report data on undergraduate (and graduate) students, I think ad word instruction would also benefit them. Below are a few ideas of how to incorporate Google ad instruction into your information literacy sessions:

  • Point it out- Demonstrate how a search might include ads at the top of one’s search results list. You can also do this with social media platforms.

google ads vs search

  • Discuss how Google AdWords work– Understanding how and why certain links appear at the top of the page might help users understand the difference more intuitively. This Forbes article might be helpful. It also might open the door for a broader discussion about how online behavior is tracked by companies in order to better advertise to users (I like to use this Ghostery video when addressing this topic).
  • Compare database and Google searching– While many proprietary academic databases don’t have the same user experience that Google has, their search result rankings are more trustworthy.

These are just a few basic ideas. If you have any to share I’d love to hear about them!


5 Universities Killing It On Snapchat

Snapchat_LogoI am becoming convinced that Snapchat should become a library social media staple. Being a “cusper” (on the tail end of the millennial generation) I might not be as in-tune with what’s fresh in social as my younger counterparts, but the numbers don’t lie. Smith, from DMR, reports that Snapchat not only touts 100 million daily active users, but a demographic that comprises of 77% college students. In addition, Smith states that 71% are 34 years old or younger and 45% are between the ages of 18 and 24 years old. Since so many users are the age of traditional college students, I think this makes Snapchat worth the time/money investment for libraries.

Among the throng of brands proliferating Snapchat, I have not noticed a large number of academic libraries using the platform. Moreover I was also unable to find a substantive quantity of higher education institutions in general using Snapchat. However, I did come across a few gems in the postsecondary realm that really understood how to leverage this social tool. Listed below are the aforementioned institutions. I suggest that libraries follow them and monitor how they engage students online for inspiration, before delving into their own snapping endeavors. With features like Snapchat Stories, Live, and Discover, Snapchat is becoming more conducive for student engagement.

Before I list the exemplar universities, I wanted to share two content themes that arose during my Snapchat perusal, Campus Life and Media Reuse/Sharing. Campus Life involves promoting events on campus, taking users on “video tours” of departments or popular restaurants, and generally just communicating what it’s like to go to that university. Media Reuse/Sharing consists of universities sharing student photos/videos on Snapchat or other social media venues such as Facebook or Twitter. Users on social media generally love it when an institution will share their content and it allows the university to use it as organic promotional content. Ok…without further ado, here’s my list!

1) University of Michigan

Username: UofMichigan– I would have to say that this account is probably my favorite. UMich has one of the oldest university Snapchat accounts and the social team really knows how to leverage all types of media. In their Snapchat Stories they incorporate video, music, funny online clips, doodles, hashtags, and pictures. It’s clear that they know who their target audience is, and they are great at embedding themselves into the everyday activities of undergrads. Their current story on the freshman move in checklist and #selfie contest are prime examples of this.

2) MIT

Username: mitstudents – Most of the content I have seen from MIT centers on the “around campus” vibe. What makes their account fun to follow is the fact that they don’t display easy to access campus information, but rather provide you with a behind the scenes peek of what goes on at MIT. It serves as a sort of unofficial campus guide.

3) Colorado State University

Username: ColoradoStateU – Over the summer CSU initiated a #stateofsummer hashtag Snapchat contest. They encouraged students to share their summer pictures on social media for a chance to win a prize. This is a great example of utilizing user generated content to promote the university. Below is one contestant’s post that was shared on Twitter. You can see how students’ activities in the state where CSU is located, serve as a way to engage CSU’s current audience as well as advertise to prospective students.

4) Princeton University

Username: princeton_u – Princeton has caught on to their students’ social sharing tendencies. They not only share snaps on Snapchat but have a designated Facebook photo album entitled Snapchat Saturday. The album’s description reads “Featuring the week’s most fun and creative snaps to Princeton_U!” and promotes user content that exudes school pride.

5) Duke University

Username: @dukestudents – I attended Hootsuite’s webinar, Social Media in Education: Tips from 3 Pros, and got to hear some of the awesome social media efforts that are going on at Duke University. One platform they have found to be highly successful is Snapchat. They use it for outreach and to showcase student life at Duke. The snaps they post are funny and engaging and they have made great use of Snapchat Stories. If you have time I highly recommend you listen to the webinar.

Honorable Mentions

University of Nebraska- Lincoln

Username: unlincoln – Most of the content I’ve seen from UNL comprises of campus activities. Free events such as #Gradfest and Service Learning Fair are communicated from their account. It is a useful resource for students looking for interesting activities, but not highly engaging which is why they didn’t make the cut.

ucsf-snapchatUniversity of California San Francisco

Username: USFCA

Other Universities with Sanpchat Accounts

There are more and more universities joining Snapchat on a regular basis. Listed below are some that I have found interesting.

Chico State University – Username: chico.state

Coastal Carolina University – Username: CCUChanticleers

Eastern Kentucky University – Username: ekustories

Eastern Washington University – Username: ewuathletics

Illinois State University – Username: illinoisstate

Kent State University – Username: KentStateU

Liberty University – Username: sparkyflames

Mount Aloysius College- Username: MountAloysius

Northern Michigan University – Username: NorthernMichU

Northwestern University – NorthwesternADM

Shepherd University- SUstudents

University of Houston – Username: uhouston

University of Kansas -Username: jayhawks

University of New Hampshire -Username: UNHStudents

University of Minnesota: Morris- SCummorris

University of Washington – Username: uwstudentlife

Valparaiso University- valparaisou

West Virginia University – Username: westvirginiau

Wichita State- Username: goshockers

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania- Username: whartonschool

Let me know if you have any you want me to add to the list! I think that these trailblazers are perfect for some inspiration as you attempt your own Snapchat engagement.



Another Conference Organizer to Avoid: Global Academic Network

Here’s a useful article by Jeffrey Beall, author of Scholarly Open Access, and expert on predatory journals and, apparently now, predatory conference organizers. You can read about my experience with a predatory journal in my previous post Beware of Predatory Journals.

Using Infographic Design to Make Common Core Connections

Image credit: Wesley Fryer

In a recent article in Phi Delta Kappan, Moeller discusses the use of visual thinking strategies to “strengthen students’ communication and critical thinking skills and creativity” (2013). Visual literacy, data visualization, and design thinking are buzzwords in the education rhetoric and are becoming more popular in the classroom partly because of the accessibility of visual creation tools. No longer is robust illustration limited to graphic designers, analytics experts, and lucrative enterprises. Many tools for visual creation are freely available, making them a useful and cost effective instructional tool.

One popular visual that is popping up all over the Web are information graphics, or infographics. Infographics are visual representations of data and are intended to make complex information more understandable by enabling to viewer to graphically view trends, patterns, percentages, etc. These handy little illustrations are not only fun to look at, but are tools with which to teach foundational English literacy and mathematical concepts. Infographic design can help teach students how to properly find sources on the Internet and creatively amalgamate them into a graphic that helps others understand intricate information as well as discover new knowledge of their own.

While infographics are not new on the education scene, new tools for creating infographic are. In the last three years, infographic generators such as Piktochart, Easel.ly, Visual.ly, and Infogr.am were created. In addition, social media outlets such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr streamline image sharing, allowing for wider infographic dissemination. Educators can capitalize on the popularity of infographics and easy to use  infographic generators to teach valuable literacy skills that are aligned with the Common Core in a fun and interesting way. Here are a few ideas:

Common Core Infographic Activities

1)     Social/Environmental Issue Infographic

Many infographics are used to represent and explain a problem. Assign each student with a social issue, require them to analyze quantitative information (such as census data), and create an infographic that visually represents the problem (and maybe proposed solution). After the infographic is completed have students analyze and critique each other’s creations. One great example is Justin Beegel’s Crude Awakening, which depicts the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill.

Standard Connections: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.11-12.7

2)     Compare/Contrast Infographic

Ask students to analyze a topic, such as Walt Disney, using both a print resource and an infographic and have them answer questions based on each medium: Is the information easier to understand in print or via infographic? What are the pros and cons of using these different formats? Does the information vary greatly? Then have students create an infographic that analyzes the differences between these mediums. Electronic Health Records vs. Traditional Paper Records is a good example of a compare and contrast infographic: http://www.hitconsultant.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/quest_infographic_v3.jpg

Standard Connections: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.7

3)     Interactive Infographic

Ask students to create an interactive infographic and present it to the class. The infographic will require organization and development that combines both visual, technical, and textual writing skills. If used with an infographic generator, interactive components can be added such as video, interactive data visualizations (which includes hovering your mouse over the data for more information), audio, and animation. This will also require knowledge of web publishing and digital image files. Additionally you could incorporate instruction on programming language concepts required to make the infographic interactive (i.e. Flash and HTML5). Flash and HTML5 can help students understand why certain interactive components don’t work on iOS devices and static image files. The infographic, 13 Reasons Why your Brain Craves Infographics, is a useful reference for a project like this as well as a good example of an animated infographic.

 Standard Connections: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL9-10.5 & 11-12.5

Infographics are also great for collaborative activities. Assign a group of students an infographic project using Piktochart (or another infographic generator). Require each student to work on one portion of the infographic (with Piktochart this is particularly easy because the infographic is divided into “blocks”). Require students to utilize hyperlinks, embed video and images, and implement attractive color schemes.

Standard Connections: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.6, 9-10.6, & 11-12.6

4)     Statistics & Probability Infographic

One awesome aspect of infographic design is the data visualizations that can be added to them. All the high school statistics standards fall directly in-line with the charts, graphs, plots, etc that can be created for an infographic. Infographic generators, such as Piktochart, have a built in chart feature that allows you to input statistical data. For more advanced features and functions the program allows you to import data from excel files. Once calculations have been made, the data can be interpreted and discussed in the infographic to further comprehension and provide another dimension of learning and understanding.

These are just a few ways infogrpahics can be incorporated into the common core. Do you use infographics in your classes? If so, please share in the comments!

Top 20 Library & Information Science Publications According to Google Metrics


Just wanted to let you all know that Google Scholar recently released their 2014 Metrics. Google lists the top 20 library science publications based on h5-index. Coming in at number one is the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology with an h5-index of 56. The h5-index is the h-index for articles published in the last 5 complete years. Usually the h-index is used to measure a specific author’s impact, but  Google Scholar has applied this measurement to journals as well (most databases use the Journal Impact Factor). Google measures the h-index of a publication by determining “the largest number h such that at least h articles in that publication were cited at least h times each. ” For example a journal with six articles that have been cited 20, 15, 11, 10, 9, and 8 will have an h-index of 6. Here are a few data visualizations I made and a reading list for more info about Google Scholar’s metrics.

h5 index


h5 index_h5 median

 Reading List


Promote Your Library With Snapchat Stories

This is probably the best way libraries can start implementing Snapchat for promotional purposes. According to an article published today by Business Insider, Snapchat Stories has increased 100% with over 1 billion stories being viewed a day! Since this app is so widely used by individuals under the age of 25 (traditional college aged students), it’s a great marketing tool for academic libraries and public libraries alike. Listed below is the Snapchat Stories promotional video:

Here’s How Snapchat Stories Works:

  • You take a series of snaps (photo and video)
  • From those snaps you select “Snap to your Story”
  • The photos in your story are then available for viewing by all your Snapchat friends for 24 hours.
  • Snapchat states that because your story plays forward, it makes sense to share moments in the order you experience them.

Snapchat Stories is awesome because it removes the cumbersome task of individually sending the snap to each friend, and it creates a fun narrative for your patrons to view. The ideas for a Snapchat Story are endless, here are a few:

  • A day in the life of a librarian
  • How books make it to the shelf
  • How digital records are searchable (the process of metadata)
  • The research process

I’m going to be playing around with this over the summer. Add umhblibrary on Snapchat if you want to view our story! Also if you have any Snapchat Story ideas please comment below. 🙂

Update 2/5/2015:

Business Insider recently published instructions on how to add music to your Snapchat Stories!

You Might Also Like:

Snapchat for Your Library

How to Create a Snapchat Contest

How to Create a Snapchat Contest



In the beginning of January I started hearing a lot of buzz about the privacy chat app Snapchat. From NPR to Mashable, everyone was discussing this new app. One fortuidious morning, during my daily Feedly perusal, I saw articles by both TechCrunch and Mashable reporting on a study that found that over 77% of college students use Snapchat every day. This started my wheels turning and I decided to launch a Snapchat contest for my library. Listed below are the steps I took to create the contest.

Step 1: Design 

In keeping with the National Library Week theme, “Lives Change at Your Library,” I created a contest that required participants to create  a video, in 10 seconds or less, explaining what book changed their world outlook and why. To enter, contestants had to:

  1. Add our library as a friend
  2. Snap the video
  3. Send us the video snap

Step 2: Promote

I created a Libguide with the contest instructions. I also created a terms and conditions section. I made it clear that we would be saving the videos and sharing them on our social media accounts. Because Snapchat is chat app with a focus on private sharing, it was important to inform students that the videos were going to be used publicly. We promoted the contest by:

  1. Email: I sent both an email to the student body and a separate one to the faculty. Faculty support is huge for the success of our contests.
  2. Social Media: We promoted the contest on our Twitter and Pinterest accounts. Our public services team made an awesome animated GIF that we used on Pinterest.
  3. Flyers: I worked with our public services librarian to have flyers made and distributed across campus and in the library

Step 3: View Submissions

If you’ve ever used Snapchat you know that once you view a snap, it self destructs in a matter of seconds. To avoid this, I used the free iOS app SnapSave (there is also a version for Andriod called Snap’N’Save). Snap Save allows you to view and save all the snaps directly to your device. The way you do this is by opening the snaps in Snap Save and not Snapchat. If you open it in Snapchat the snap will self destruct. Once contestants sent me their snaps I saved them using Snap Save and also sent them a reply snap thanking them for their entry.

Step 4: Post Submissions

I posted all video submissions on my YouTube channel and the Libguide.

Step 5: Judge

I asked faculty and staff members from the marketing, computer science, and education departments to serve as judges. I created a rubric using Google Drive and all submissions were sent electronically. Once the winners were chosen I sent them a snap letting them know they won. Below is one of the snaps I sent. You’re limited on text characters so you’ll have to get artistically creative (please don’t judge my wretched art work!). The first place winner won a $50 Visa gift card, and 2nd and 3rd place winners were awarded a $25 Starbucks gift card.


All in all the contest was fun to create and the students who entered had a lot of fun creating the videos. One of the faculty members offered her students extra credit for entering, which was  a big help for encouraging contest participation. I wish there had been more entries, but plan on doing a similar contest next semester with more promotion.

Has your organization used Snapchat? If so please comment below!

Want to read more? Check out:

23 Mobile Things: Snapchat

Promote Your Library With Snapchat Stories

Snapchat for Your Library

Data Visualization: An Effective Way to Encourage Librarian/Faculty Collaboration



Social_Network_Analysis_Visualization (1)


In our digital environment big data rules. It’s changing they way brands market to consumers, how programmers develop apps, the list goes on but it is all resulting in a significant shift to the digital landscape as we know it. One way researchers are capitalizing on this trend is by using data visualization to depict and measure scholarly impact. This visual method has been used in applications for promotion or tenure, to measure one’s competition, to determine journal impact, etc. Data visualization in academia is also resulting in new methods for analysis. Two methods that I have been actively researching are bibliometric mapping and social network analysis. My work with infographics got the attention of a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver, and this past year we have been collaborating on various research projects that involve visual methods for measuring and representing impact. The increased interest in these topics that were once limited to information and computer science, has made me realize the opportunity for librarian and faculty collaboration. Many of the programs now available don’t require advanced statistical knowledge and make it easier to incorporate visual representations of qualitative and quantitative data into research. I strongly recommend that academic librarians look into data visualization training for their professional development as this is an excellent opportunity to facilitate collaboration. I also encourage students in library science take statistics classes beyond what’s required to get a head start in this area. Listed below are links to my current publications on these topics and some of the software that can be used. Feel free to contact me if you’d like more information on it.

Here are some of the software programs available for bibliometric and social network analyses (most of these are freeware and as such take a while to figure out):

This is just a smattering of software that is currently available. Do you have any that you like to use?

Image credit: Calvinius


Implications of Our Graying Profession

Today, on the College Libraries Discussion List, a email firestorm erupted over a simple survey request. A librarian requested that his fellow colleagues take the survey: The Mature Librarian: Over 55. The survey is intended to ascertain mature librarians’ feelings about technology, staying relevant in their field, and working with younger librarians. Droves of emails have been pouring in with library professionals wanting to voice their opinions (here is a link to the archive of responses). Many have stated that the survey is ageist, others have voiced that they are offended that these questions were proposed, and some have facetiously thrown in their two cents. I couldn’t help but feel bad for the poor guy who wrote survey. I thought that if he had just worded the survey differently he wouldn’t be in this pickle (which def goes to show you how far a well crafted survey can go).

In the midst of my musings on how I felt about the survey, I started to think about older librarians I’ve worked with. Being a younger librarian in a graying profession (which includes librarians working past retirement and not enough younger librarians available to take their place (SLJ, ALA, Charleston Advisor), I have encountered many individuals who don’t want to learn new technology, but it has all been related to one’s personality, not their age. I have encountered friends who don’t want to learn how to program, individuals who balk at using PowerPoint, and others who panic over system upgrades, but these instances have been from people who cover a broad span of ages.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel that older librarians have a harder time learning new technology and staying relevant in their field? Do you think a profession with the majority of professionals being over 40 years old, implies that they have a harder time learning technology?


Get the Most Out of Your Graphic Design Team by Using These Tools

Graphic-Design-005I was venting to a friend of mine the other day about not being able to articulate what I want to the graphic designers I work with. I explained that often I have the idea of what I want, but have difficulty expressing that thought semantically. Other times I have no idea what I want, making it even harder to dictate my desires. Both cases have often resulted in a finished product that I’m not entirely satisfied with. I have chalked this up to me not having enough graphic design experience, something that I just simply don’t have the time to learn. My friend, who is a graphic designer and the perfect person to have vented to about this dilemma, graciously provided me an invaluable annotated list of resources for inspiration. He suggested I look on these sites to find what I want and then give it to my graphic design team in order to direct their creation more efficiently. This method has worked wonderfully so I thought I’d share it with others who fall into my same quandary. This has also served as an excellent way to stay up to date on the latest visual trends. Here is list: (also if you have any sites to add please share!)



One of my favorite ways of making small ads/banners is to find a good font for the headline first and building around that.

Indirect Inspiration

These sites help inspire me though they are not geared towards designers


Increase Your Productivity With a WiFi Coldspot

Sometimes I need to just disconnect from technology so I can reconnect with myself. If you’re like me you probably have calendar reminders, new tweets, breaking news, blog posts, and a whole plethora of various other digital distractions all suffused across your desktop in about 50 tabs. According to Nicholas Carr’s book The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, the Internet is causing us to sacrifice our ability to read and think deeply due to a bevy of distracting small bits of information. Here are some ways that one can take a digital break in order to refocus:

Find a WiFi Cold Spot

Harvard’s Library Test Kitchen designed this WiFi Cold Spot to allow for disconnected tranquility using EMF blocking paint that radio signals.

If you’re really ambitions you could follow suit and make your own DIY study pod/room using wifi proof paint or wifi proof wallpaper. If,  unfortunately, you don’t have access to a wifi cold spot you can still set aside a place in your house that is free of digital devices. Even if it’s for an hour a day the benefits are worth it. In a recent radio broadcast from Humankind Public Radio, former NY Times science correspondent Daniel Goleman discusses the importance of a distraction free work space and how it allows us to be more productive and create positive emotions. He states that when he writes, he works in a studio that has no phone, email, etc. Having both professional and personal benefits, taking time out of your week or month to refocus is essential to a successful work/life balance. Especially in an environment that is proliferated with digital distractions. So, next week, try allotting one hour to monotask.  Read some literature, research from a physical book, write out that essay, pen a poem, or flip through a magazine, you’ll be so glad you did!

Do you have any wifi cold spot suggestions? I’d love to hear them 🙂

Beware of Predatory Journals



**I’m very sorry to announce that Beall’s list of predatory journals is no longer online. Jeffrey Beall cited “threats and politics” as the reason for the removal. However, there is a version available through the Wayback Machine (but just keep in mind it is no longer being updated).

Today I received an email from the Journal of Journalism and Mass Communication (ISSN 2160-5679), inviting me to submit my conference paper presentation: The Best Tech Tools for Creating Twitter Content, to their journal for publication. At first I was pumped thinking wow an invitation to publish! So after reading the email I proceeded to look them up in Cabell’s (a journal directory), they weren’t listed. I looked in our library’s holdings. We don’t carry the journal. I tried nearby universities’ catalogs. They don’t subscribe. Then I tried Ulrich’s both by title and ISSN. They weren’t there either. What’s even more fishy is that the email they sent me states that they are indexed in Ulrich’s!

After a moment of pique, I was reminded of a conversation with a professor I had last year. They were asking if I had heard of “predatory journals.” Predatory journals are run by “publishers that attempt to exploit the business model of open access by charging large fees to authors.” The professor told me that these journals are really sneaky about how they charge their fees. Here’s the breakdown:

  • You get the email asking for your submission (this email does not state that there is a charge)
  • You submit, they respond with an acceptance letter asking you to confirm several things (such as authorizing them to publish your paper, etc)
    • They also state that there will be a service charge (the Journal of Journalism and Mass Communication charges $50 per page)
  • Now here’s the real kicker, because you submitted to this journal (even if you decide you don’t want to go through with publication), you technically can’t submit it to another journal because the copyright was transferred upon submission.
  • So now you either have to pay or never publish that manuscript! (Take a look at this list of aspects of predatory journal publishing)

These journals also solicit unsuspecting scholars to be on their editorial boards.  These individuals have no idea that they are serving on a journal that is deemed “predatory.” In my case I did some more digging and looked at Jeffrey Beall’s list of predatory journals (which unfortunately is no longer available). This journal wasn’t on there. So I checked the publisher (David Publishing) on his list of predatory publishers, and low and behold there they were. Jeffrey’s lists are awesome and I’d highly recommend that you take a look at them before agreeing to publish with an open access journal that is inviting you to submit. Here is a list of journals that David Publishing prints. Also here some other resources stating that this publisher is a scam: The Trial Warrior Blog, Syracuse Library Blog, Leiter Reports, Notebooks on Language, and College Misery. Had I not had that conversation I probably would have submitted! Be careful out there.

Image credits: Predator Bez Maski, IJLT (journal background)

Snapchat For Your Library


Snapchat_logo Snapchat has been getting a lot of buzz as of late (Facebook offered to purchase it for $3 billion, but was turned down). It is currently valued at about $4 billion, and I think it will be the social media application of 2014 (here’s an interesting story of why teens use Snapchat by npr).

What is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a photo chat application developed by Stanford University student Evan Spiegel. What makes it different from Google chat, FB messaging, etc is the fact that the “snaps” (photos/videos/text) that you send are only viewable between 1-10 seconds, and then deleted permanently. It is known as the “next wave of private social sharing” (USA Today).

Who Uses Snapchat?

All Things D’s Liz Gannes reports that Snapchat is used by kids between the ages of “13-25 years old, with a growing contingent that’s aged 40 and over.” Business are also jumping on the Snapchat train. Mashable’s recent article 8 Brands Rocking Snapchat lists some awesome ways that brands are using this service.

How Can Libraries Use Snapchat?

Taking direction from the brands listed in Mashable’s article here are a few ideas I have:

1) 16 Handles Example: Ask your patrons to snap a pic of themselves with a roving library item/mascot. When I was attending TSMRI’s social media conference I attended the session 32 Flavors and Then Some: Creative Ways to Grow Your Social Presence. The presenters had the awesome idea of “steal this pen.” Students would take a specific university pen and take a pic with it wherever they were globally. They used Twitter for the sharing, but Snapchat is a great way to do this as well. As a library you could have students send a pic with a specific book, pen, mascot, etc. then in return they could be sent a 10 sec self destructing coupon code that they could bring into the library for a print of their photo.

2) Karmaloop Example: Karmaloop sends snaps of it’s brands new releases, office pictures, etc. You could do the same with the library. You could snap a “behind the scenes” video of the process of repairing a damaged book, a pic of new book arrivals, etc.

3) Taco Bell Example: Taco Bell used Snapchat’s Stories feature. This feature allows you to tell a story in a series of photos. You could do this in your library in several different ways: story of how a book is made, abridged version of a classic novel, etc. This might be one of the most useful ways for libraries to use Snapchat. These are just a few of my ideas. If your library is using Snapchat please comment below and tell us how your using it!


Here is another idea that I just discovered: The Snapchat Pitch. In this contest students have 10 seconds or less to pitch their idea to the ad agency DDB Oslo. If their idea is selected they will be flown out to DDB Oslo for an interview.

You could have students describe their favorite book or library improvement idea in 10 seconds or less. http://vimeo.com/84663955

**2nd Update:

This guy performed the most awesome song covers using Snapchat! You could do a contest having students create a video with visuals in Snapchat…Maybe reenacting plots from their favorite book or Shakespeare play?

**3rd Update

I just posted a new post: How to Create a Snapchat Contest. It describes the contest I created this last semester.

**4th Update

Madonna just announced that she will be releasing her new music video on Snapchat tomorrow. It seems like this platform is definitely becoming more of a mainstream marketing tool!

Be a Twitter Fly on the Wall



In the past year I have become a Twitter fanatic, attending every Twitter conference session I can get into, and reading as many blogs, articles, and tweets that I can. I predominantly use Twitter for my library and not personally. Anywho while I attended TLA last year I went to an awesome session by Jim Holland. He introduced me to TweetDeck and searching by proximity.  Those tools have proven so useful to me that I gave a presentation at Tarleton State University’s Texas Social Media Research Institute’s annual conference (a mouthful I know), about using apps to create relevant content on Twitter. Due to the positive feedback I’ve received both at the conference and through various listservs I thought I’d write a post about it.

Twitter apps can really open up your opportunities for interacting with your users. By using TweetDeck to track hashtag use and utilizing a zip code and mile range search you can find out who is talking about you, even if they don’t use your Twitter handle.

TweetDeck and the Zip code search

TweetDeck is a management client that allows you to set up customizable twitter feeds based on specific parameters (it does a lot more than just this). You can create columns based on mentions, followers, searches, trends, etc. My favorite column has been the search: “library near:76513 within:25mi. That column allows me to monitor every time someone within a 25 mile radius of my library mentions the word “library” in a tweet. Here’s what it looks like in my feed:

TweetDeck Feed

This method has proven to be a very useful tool for entering into the conversation of our users. It has allowed us to solve problems, discover student needs, and find some great content for retweeting. If you have a hashtag search or Twitter tool that you find indispensable please let me know!

How Libraries are Doing Pinterest Wrong


Ok, I admit it I am one of the 71% of women on Pinterest. I use it to get travel, culinary, decorating inspiration and I pin whenever I find something awesome I want to remember later. I also pin for my library, but unlike my personal Pinterest account, my library account is much different. I have noticed recently that many libraries are (in my opinion) using Pinterest incorrectly. Here are some of the ways:

1) They are glutting up people’s feeds

Posting a lot at one time gluts up your followers’ feeds. I don’t want to see a bunch of books that take up several pages of my feed.

2) They are pinning the same thing on different boards.

In the example below this pinner pinned the same book on different boards. Which is fine, but when pinned simultaneously it results in duplicates in my feed that I don’t want to see. It is my recommendation to select one board per pin and stick with it (even if it falls into multiple categories).

Wrong Way to Pin

3) They are using Pinterest like they use Libguides

A lot of library accounts that I have run into post all the new books in their collection. That is great for a Libguide but not for Pinterest. Pinterest is public, with a much wider user base. And as such, you as the pinner, should only pin a smattering of your collection. “The best of” so to speak. If you’ve noticed that you’re not getting a whole lot of repins on a certain type of pin that you pin frequently, stop pinning. Chances are, it’s not relevant to your audience. In my opinion a “New Arrivals” Libguide would be better for this. If you don’t have Libguides and want to use something comparable don’t use Pinterest try using a website like Wix.

4) They are posting things they personally find useful/interesting 

I love cats, but I’m not going to post cute cat pics all over the library’s Pinterest account because not all students necessarily share my fondness for felines. If you come across a great collection development resource or cute picture pin it to a private board or onto your personal Pinterest account.

5) They are using poor quality images

Small and/or pixelated images do not encourage repins or clicks. They are normally bypassed for visually appealing images.

In my opinion libraries should be using Pinterest they way brands do. It can garner interest, spark participation, and promote innovation if used properly. The infographic contest that I created was a huge success in my library and showcased the awesome graphic abilities of our students. If you look at major brands on Pinterest they are not pinning like crazy at one time. They are pinning relevant interesting material, in spaced time increments, that organically works as a promotion tool. Here is a great list of 5 Brands Winning at Pinterest that would be a great tool to utilize. Also the Mashies nomination list for Best Use of Pinterest is another awesome resource.

According to a recent study by Piqora “a pin on Pinterest is worth 25% more in sales than last year and can drive visits and orders for months.” How does this translate to libraries? If used correctly Pinterest can drive more checkouts, more visitation, and more interaction.  Redpepper has a fabulous article about how Kirkland successfully used Pinterest, which includes using Pin-worthy photography, sweepstakes, and partnering with bloggers. Libraries could use many of these tips for their own accounts.

Can You Match the Personality Disorder w/ the Alfred Hitchcock Movie Character?


Happy Halloween!!

In celebration of the holiday I created a quiz to exercise your neurons. Can you match the Alfred Hitchcock character w/ the personality disorder? Summaries and disorder descriptions are listed below (from the DSM IV). If you want to skip straight to the answers click here.

Disorder Descriptions (Taken from the DSM IV):

 Dissociative Identity Disorder: “The essential feature is the presence of two or more distinct identities or personality states that recurrently take control of behavior.”

 Dissociative Amnesia: 

“Essential feature is an inability to recall important personal information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature, that is too extensive to be explained by normal forgetfulness.”

Antisocial Personality Disorder: 

“Essential feature is a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others.” (DSM IV)


“Involves the act of observing unsuspecting individuals, usually strangers” (DSM IV)

  • “The voyeur is presented as a ‘diseased’, often paranoid, violent individual who violates the norms of everyday life. Films validate these depictions of the voyeur by having persons in power (family members, editors, supervisors, the police) articulate how and why the voyeur is a sick or deviant person and why his or her gaze is inappropriate.” (Denzin 1995: 3)

Paranoid Personality Disorder: 

“Essential feature is a pattern of pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent.” (DSM IV)

Borderline Personality Disorder: 

“The essential feature is a pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects.”

Movie Summaries:

Rear Window: 

As a photographer with a broken leg, L.B. Jeffries takes up the fine art of spying on his Greenwich Village neighbors during a summer heat wave. Things really begin to get hot when he suspects a salesman may have murdered his nagging wife and buried the body in a flower garden. He actively enlists the help of his girlfriend to investigate the highly suspicious chain of events. Events that ultimately lead to one of the most memorable and gripping endings in film history.

Strangers on a Train: 

Guy Haines, a tennis star who hates his wife, is approached on a train by a stranger, Bruno Anthony, who hates his father. Anthony offers a plan: each could kill the other’s victim. No motive, no clue would link the two murders save the casual meeting of strangers on a train. Haines doesn’t take the plan seriously, however, until his wife is suddenly murdered, and Anthony appears to demand that Haines keep his part of the bargain.    


Two friends strangle a classmate and invite his family and mutual friends to dinner–with the body stuffed inside the trunk for a buffet table. Inspired by the Leopold-Loeb murder.


Scottie Ferguson, a San Francisco police detective is forced to retire when a freak accident gives him a severe case of acrophobia. Ferguson is hired by a rich shipbuilder to follow his wife who is behaving suspiciously and might be planning suicide. He falls in love with her, she is later murdered and Ferguson becomes obsessed with his desire to re-create her in another woman.


A female psychiatrist protects the identity of an amnesia patient accused of murder while attempting to recover his memory.


Horror melodrama in which a woman disappears after spending the night in an isolated motel which adjoins an eerie Victorian mansion, inhabited by a disturbed young man and his mother. 

Tips for Using Piktochart



Being a visual learner myself, I am a huge fan of infographics.  They have gotten so popular that it seems like you can’t scroll down a Pinterest/Tumblr/Facebook feed without seeing at least one plastered on your screen. With their rising popularity has come the prevalence of infographic generators. These handy tools are great for those without graphic design program experience (or for those who don’t want to pay for one).  One of my favorite generator apps is Piktochart. I am currently teaching Piktochart 101 to an English class where I work so I thought I’d share my tips and thoughts while it’s fresh on my mind.

The interface is a lot cleaner than it used to be. There there is only one version (there used to be two, the old and new, which was confusing). The free version lets you select from a set of 8 templates (one being blank).  Before I get into tips here are some things to be aware of when using Piktochart:

  • Must use shift to select multiple images (ctrl does not work)
  • Can’t delete countries on maps (just country specs)- Piktochart has an awesome maps feature that lets you embed interactive maps. The only bummer is that you can only modify the geographic locations’ color and data. You can’t delete or zoom in on a specific country.
  • Can’t upload gifs
  • Can’t click and drag images into infographic itself, you have to use the upload option
  • Does not have a huge selection of image choices
  • Click and drag is glitchy
  • Image layering can be tedious- A lot of times when I am using layered images and I want to modify an image that is underneath another one the program won’t let me. To modify a layered image you have to un-layer them all, modify, then relayer.
  • Can’t Search Graphics, you have to scroll through them
  • Can’t press delete or backspace to delete something you must select it and then click trash
  • Font types in the font selection menu are all listed in the same font, they also don’t change when you select text and hover your mouse to see what it might look like.

Tip 1: Use Curalate’s Image Chart

Curalate does one of the best jobs at showing you how to utilize color, size, etc on your infographic. Here are a few specs to keep in mind:

  • Use Multiple Dominant Colors
  • With Medium lightness
  • A 2:3 aspect ratio
  • and less than a 10% background

Tip 2: Setting a Color Scheme

I normally use Kuler to select a unique color scheme and then enter in the HEX numbers into my infographic using the advanced settings. I would recommend having an eye dropper browser tool at the ready. These are great if you want to get the HEX number of a color on a web page. I usually get the color using the eye dropper, pop it in to Kuler, and set up a color scheme. The eye dropper also works great for shape colors. For example you could use the dropper to get Facebook’s logo’s exact shade of blue and then change your Facebook shape icon on you infographic to that color (most shapes are black). Here’s what kuler looks like:


Tip 3: Using Graphics/Images

Piktochart’s stock image selection is not great in my opinion so I rely heavily on the creative commons image search. It’s great for quickly finding copyright free images. I especially like searching the clip art gallery to find symbols and shapes to use. Piktochart does not have a lot of image modification features so you might need to use a photo editor. Gimp is a great free option and works on Mac, Windows, and Linux operating systems.

Tools for Creating Your Digital Portfolio


In today’s digital job market having a digital portfolio of your work makes it easier for you to stand out among the sea of plain resumes. Digital portfolios are not only useful for job seekers but also for professionals wanting to keep track of their work for their yearly review and for those seeking job advancement, tenure, etc. These handy electronic files are extremely useful and fairly easy to create (albeit a little time consuming, but totally worth it!). I have created a list of tools and tips for your eportfolio creation. If you have any suggestions please share in the comments below. 🙂

Information to Include:

  • Resume
  • Publication history
  • Writing samples
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Presentations (share w/ links)
  • Academic and Work history

Step 1: Gather Content

  • Save your material in a cloud storage (Dropbox, Skydrive, etc) folder. Saving in Dropbox (or any cloud storage) makes it easy to share links to supplemental material. For example: You don’t want to post your entire 30 page paper on a poststructural reading of Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown, but you could post the abstract/introduction, and include a link to the paper for those who want to read more. A digital portfolio is a visual sampling of your best work, and cloud storage makes it easy expand on those samples for those who are interested.

Step 2: Choose a Portfolio Builder

Website Version

This is just scratching the surface of free Website creators that are out there. I am currently using Wix. I like Wix for it’s ease of use and categorized template listings. I like Squarespace’s template selection a little more but didn’t find it as easy to use.

Step 2: Choose a Portfolio Builder

Infographic Version

Infographics can be used to include a portfolio portion combined w/ a resume (see my re.vu ex).



Step 2: Choose a Portfolio Builder

Blog Version

Although not specifically tailored for eportfolio creation, if you are already familiar with a particular blogging platform this could be a great option for you.



Step 3: Create Your Layout

Unlike a paper portfolio, eportfolios combine a design aspect, so it’s important to include aesthetic best practices. Here are some things to keep in mind when designing your portfolio:

  • Make it attractive and dynamic- Don’t go overboard on graphics or colors.
  • Utilize a clean design: good use of white space
  • Make sure it’s easy to navigate- In my example below I decided on top side navigation as well as repeat navigation using the circles in the middle and links at the bottom.


  • Link to additional content– Like I said earlier this is just a visual sampling of your work. I used a graphic and then provided a link so those interested could get more information.


  • Use images– The great thing about eportfolios is how wonderfully visual they can be. Here are some tips when using images:
    • Brendan W. Lowry has a great infographic on image color tips called The Eyes Have It.
    • Don’t forget about stock photos- Wix and other website platforms provide a bevy of awesome copyright free images you can use.
    • Don’t violate copyright. If you choose to use someone else’s images make sure you are not violating their legal rights. I like to search for free use images using the Creative Commons Image Search, Pixabay, and Raumrot. Also don’t forget to always give credit.

What Google’s New Search Algorithm Means for Libraries

Image Credit: PC Mag

In the nostalgic garage where Google first operated, Google celebrated it’s 15th anniversary with the announcement of Hummingbird. Hummingbird is Google’s new algorithm that has been silently implemented for about the past month. The algorithm is intended to produce more relevant results based on natural language search queries and networked relationships (think a more robust Knowledge Graph). On of the reasons for this revamp was due to the influx of people “speaking” searches into their mobile device. When people speak searches they are more likely to speak as they would to a person (i.e. natural language).

So what does this mean for libraries? I think as Google adjusts to the way people search so should our databases and catalog search engines. Robert Hof in a recent Forbes article stated “it’s interesting that although queries are getting more complex, that doesn’t always mean it’s harder to find the right answers. ‘The more terms people use, Huffman says, the more context Google can divine.’ So those extra words, even if they’re in a more complex query, can give Google better information–but only if the algorithms are adjusted to be able to recognize the relationship among those terms.” Students/patrons are already used to searching using natural language and as Google gets better at giving relevant results they will use it even more. We as libraries should be right behind Google in modifying our algorithms to be more semantic. Semantic searching also opens up the opportunity to see relationships between search results and ultimately discover new information. For example: a search in Google for Albert Einstein will  provide information on where he was born, when he died, who his children were…as well as related scientists like Isaac Newton and Thomas Edison. All without even having to click on an item record. In my opinion our catalogs need to start out with a default “semantic search” and then have options for advanced navigational searching.

Ok Ok so this might be easier said than done depending on your budgetary constraints and programming know how. But even if we can’t change our catalog searching algorithms we need to be making even more of an effort to show the differences between Google searching and library catalog/database searching.  As Google becomes better at providing results using natural language, students can be disillusioned into thinking all search engines perform the same way. I am definitely going to be teaching my students search query formulation even during my “one shot” 1 hour library orientation sessions because I think this is extremely important for students to be aware of. Also we as librarians need to stay current in the way Google is changing and improving so we can make our instructional sessions more relevant.

Google fun fact: Google was first used as a verb on Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 2002 (Help episode)

Please share any thoughts you have on the Hummingbird launch!


Mashies Finalists for Library Promotion Inspiration- Part 3

Please view past posts for more background: Mashies Finalists for Library Promotion Inspiration Part 1 and Mashies Finalists for Library Promotion Inspiration Part 2

In my first post I stated that I was going to create library ideas based on each nominee for every category each day. This has proven to be a bit too time consuming so from now on I’m only going to select a few nominees from multiple categories and post about once a week.

Alright today I am taking on the categories of Best Real-Time Marketing and Best Use of Google+:

Best Real-Time Marketing

Mashable describes this category as “the best branded digital response to current events as they’re happening.” I think utilizing current event information is a great way for libraries to demonstrate relevancy, promote their collections, and respond to patron complaints.

Nominee: Bodyform– Rubber Republic

  • Rubber Republic created a hilarious response to “a disgruntled boyfriend’s rant on Bodyform’s facebook page.” The video features  “Bodyform’s fictional CEO Caroline Williams apologizing to Richard for the flagrant use of metaphors in the company’s advertising of feminine hygiene products” and was posted 7 days after the comment. The video currently has 5,325,707 YouTube views.
  • Library Idea- Videos are a great way to get your proposed solutions out to a large audience. Try making a video response of your library’s solution to common complaint.

Nominee: The Poop Tweet– Razorfish

  • This video does a wonderful job at explaining how powerful a timely and creative social media response can be. Razorfish created a tweet in response to someone’s comment about Smart Car’s durability. The response was blogged about, then picked up by Reddit where it reached number 1 twice, and the next morning it was making headlines around the world. The video states that they generated 22 million impressions, increased their Twitter mentions by over 2000%, and searches for “tridion safety cell” increased by 333%.
  • Library Example
    • All libraries get complaints from patrons. With the advent of social media like Facebook and Twitter many of these complaints are disseminated digitally. It’s important that libraries not only respond to digital complaints but do so as quickly as possible.
    • Sometimes digital complaints stem out of one’s desire to vent their frustrations and aren’t even sent directly to the institution they are complaining about. Tracking these comments down allows you to be a fly on the wall and peer into real people’s conversations about your library. For example our library has had many tweets about people talking in the quiet study area of the library. The only way we were able to find those tweets was by searching for the word “library” and limiting by location via zip code. In response to those tweets we offered this solution:


  • Library Idea- If you have patrons complaining a small collection you could calculate how large your paper and digital collections are and tweet it. If people are making comments about how libraries are out of date or no one reads actual books you could tweet out your yearly book checkout statistics.

Bottom Line: Respond to complaints in a timely manner, have a sense of humor, and don’t ignore the power of social media regarding this area.

Best Use of Google+

Nominee: The #CadburyKitchen- Mondelez International

  • Cadbury invited chocolate lovers to a Google+ Hangout hosted by French Patissier Eric Lanlard. The hangout featured tips on pastry creation and information about his new book.
  • Library Idea- Google+ is not as utilized by libraries as Facebook, but in my opinion it should be. The main reason is the Hangout feature. Google+ Hangouts allow up to 10 people to video chat at once. This could be a great way to offer reference assistance or teach a library workshop and/or orientation to small groups. You could offer a Hangout featuring a local author and have a Q and A about their new book.

Mashies Finalists for Library Promotion Inspiration- Part 2

In yesterday’s post I discussed sharing my library tips/ideas based on the top three finalists in each Mashies awards category.  The Mashies celebrate the best in marketing. Since these companies are highly skilled in what they do I think it only makes sense to learn from their genius. Today I am taking on the category oooof:

Best Video Series

Nominee 1: Idea Channel- PBS

    • I have been a huge fan of this channel even before I found out that they were a Mashies nominee. In fact I wrote about them a few weeks ago in a post about quality videos for flipping the classroom! This youtube channel “examines the connections between pop culture, technology and art. New videos are posted every Wednesday.” My favorite video is “Is Google Knowledge.”
    • Library idea
      • You could use these videos for flipping your classroom. TedEd is a great tool for creating lessons around YouTube videos.
      • You could create library instructional videos and based on their format:
        • Videos around 8-10 min in length, enthusiastic “live” person narrator (no voice over), engaging topics that spark initial interest based on a scholarly idea (ex: Is BMO from Adventure Time Expressive of Feminism), etc

Nominee 2: Dawn- The Big Picture Docu-series– Publicis Kaplan Thaler

  • These YouTube videos called “The Big Picture” highlight dawn’s role in wildlife rescue.
  • Library idea
    • Again another flip video resource.
    • Ideas for your own videos: Highlight a little known fact about your library or how you’re improving your community using stories told by real people with beautifully shot video.

Nominee 3: Raising the Bar- Creative Artists Agency


Mashies Finalists- A Great Way to Glean Information for Amazing Library Promotion

By: DigitalRalph on Flickr

Yesterday Mashable announced their finalists for the 2013 Mashies awards. The Mashies awards celebrate the best in digital marketing, advertising and social media. The finalists were selected by a panel of experts and include categories like Best Use of Twitter  and Best Branded App.  In my opinion librarians can learn a lot from events that celebrate the best in tech and marketing like the Mashies and Webby awards. So much of the library is digital and looking to experts in the field can be an awesome way to improve outreach effectiveness and patron’s library experiences. Looking at the finalists’ entries can also be a great way to predict trends in social media and user experience and get ideas for new library marketing campaigns.

Every day for the next two weeks I am going to share my library tips/ideas based on the top three finalists in each Mashies category:

Day 1- Best Use of Facebook

  • Amnesty International- Trial by Timeline
    • “A tool that analyzes your Facebook profile for potential ‘crimes’ under international law.” (Chris Welch)
    • Library idea
      • What about a tool that analyzes your Goodreads profile for potential banned books violations!
  • Razorfish- smart USA Tag Your Own Adventure
    • “Based on the ‘choose your own adventure format’ FB users tag themselves into Razorfish’s video photo album which will organically reach the News Feed without media buy.” (shorty award)
    • Library idea
      • This is a great way to promote your library on a small budget. The more activity you get the more free promotion! Plus you can include your library’s collection of choose your own adventure literature. Definitely a win win.
      • There are a lot of free storyboard apps that you could use for this one.
  • Colenco BBDO- The Smart Phone Line
    • Participants joined the Samsung “Smart Phone Line” through Facebook and Twitter. Whoever was at the beginning of the line won a Galaxy S4. They could jump the line by tweeting and posting the new phone’s features that were released every day. Also the more their friends shared, liked and/or retweeted their post the further up they could move (citation).
    • Library idea
      • You could post/tweet a new book every day for a week. Patron’s could then repost/retweet to move up the library line. The person at the front wins! (Definitely would need someone versed in computer science for this one)

Other References:



Creating a Flipped Video for Your IL Class? Make it Like a Vsauce Video

This semester I proposed to several professors in the English department an embedded librarian program. I was super stoked when they accepted my proposal. It basically just consists of two required information literacy (IL) sessions focused on specific search strategies and topic creation.

To prepare for these sessions I combed listservs, websites, journal articles, and good ol’ paper books to find ideas on teaching IL in a way that’s engaging to students. One method I thought that sounded awesome was flipping the classroom. Flipping the classroom is the hot topic right now in library and education fields and can be done in several ways. One popular way is to have students watch a video outside of class so you can work on the active or “homework” portion inside the class. In regards to IL some of these video topics could include topic selection, keyword and subject searching, evaluating websites, figuring out the difference between scholarly and popular, etc.

So with my instructional method in mind I tasked my intern with curating a list of interesting IL videos that I could use in my classes. She commented that many videos had useful information but were pretty boring. I thought “surely this can’t be so!” But when I reviewed the videos on her list and did my own searching she was right! I couldn’t believe how incredibly boring these videos were. I thought “yeah there is awesome info here but not even I want to listen to this hackneyed explanation of why database searching is more effective than Google searching.”

I started to consider what I think makes an engaging video and my first thought was Vsauce. I am a huge fan of Michael Stevens’, better known as Vsauce, YouTube channel. He creates videos based on science about simple topics and makes them incredibly fascinating. He explains everything from why we kiss to why we get bored. Here is a list of why I think his videos are so engaging and fun to watch:

  • Interesting topics (ex: Where Do Deleted Files Go, Are We Ready for Aliens)
  • Enthusiastic, quick narration- so many of the IL videos I reviewed had a narrator that I couldn’t see and who spoke suuuper slowly…
  • Simple but relevant animation- I don’t want to sit on the computer and have an avatar speak to me, nor do I want to watch a series of static images.
  • Real life examples

IL might not be a sexy topic like physics or engineering but there’s a reason why Vsauce has close to 5,000,000 viewers. I suggest we take a page from his book and create videos like his. My goal for 2014 is to create my own IL videos for instruction. If you’re interested in creating your own here’s a list of some other great channels you can take notes from. If video creation isn’t you’re style you could also incorporate these into your flipped classes to teach topic selection, critical thinking, etc:

Here’s one of my favorite Vsauce vids:


My Library Usability Study Stage 1

You don’t have to be an expert on user experience to conduct your own usability study. Determining how your users prefer to use your site, collection, product, etc is something that everyone can benefit from and anyone can do. Usability studies are conducted to understand how your users actually use your system. You can then use that data to determine what is and is not working with your system and create an improved system that has greater usability.

We are currently conducting a usability study at my library. We provide research aids using a content creation software called Libguides. Our goal is to provide Libguides that students will have the best experience using. One reason I saw a need to change the design of our current Libguides was due to a steep drop in clicks from the Libguide homepage to subsequent pages. Something about the way the guides were laid out was causing users to navigate away from the page. So with the help of our systems librarian we set up a usability study to discover the reason. We have only gone through two tests so far, but have come across some interesting findings.

  1. Usability Test 1:
    • Students were asked to draw their ideal Libguide on a large piece of paper
    • The sytems librarian and I explained what Libguides were and showed them Mount Holyoke, UT Arlington, and UMHB Libguides as a reference
  2. Usability Test 2
    • 3 prototypes were created based on student suggestions from usability test 1
    • Prototype A: Based on Mount Holyoke’s Libguide layout
    • Prototype B: Based on UT Arlington’s Libguide layout
    • Prototype: UMHB’s Libguide
    • All dealt w/ the subject of education
    • After the prototypes were created a series of tasks were composed
    • 4 users were given the tasks and asked to complete them for each prototype


Below is a list of our findings and recommendations for our next test.

Remove Top Level Navigation

  • None of the users used the tabs at the top. According to the literature users do not utilize top level navigation, favoring left side navigation instead. Below is an example of what we currently have and what I would like to migrate to:

Current Layout: In addition to top level navigation, there are several extraneous links that navigated away from the Libguide and confused the user.


Desired Layout: This is taken from http://www.fall.tnvacation.com. I like how the active tab is a different color, as well as the clear intuitive left side navigation.


More White Space

  • Students did not like text heavy pages or pages with too much content.

Current Layout: Too much text.


Desired Layout: This Libgude is from UT Arlington. They employ a good use of white space as well as images.


Less Database Listing, Incorporate Search Boxes

  • Students became overwhelmed by extensive listings of databases. They preferred shorter lists and embedded search boxes.

Current Layout


Desired Layout


Other Findings

  • Here are a few more recommendations I am making for the next stage. In the coming months we are going to create a new prototype and test a new group of students on it.
  1. Put most important links at the top of a list
    • It was observed that users do not look at the link titles but rather click on the first link/search box they come to
    • The literature reports that students will often search any search box available- regardless of its intended use
  2. Have all links open in a new tab/window when clicked
  3. Be clear w/ terminology
  4. Don’t use library jargon
    • Students did not know the difference between database and article terminology or EBSCO and specific database titles
  5. Tab titles should have titles that are easily understood (finding articles, finding books, etc)
  6.  Need to utilize repeat navigation
    • Users should be able to easily navigate back to the home page of the libguide
  7. Libguides should focus on:
    • How to use the library catalog
    • Keyword and subject searching
    • Understanding what a database is and how to use it
    • Choosing a topic for research
    • Mind mapping
    • Citation
    • How to differentiate between scholarly, popular, trade publications
    • Find permalinks, full text, etc
    • Find useful Websites associations, etc
  8. Libguides should NOT focus on
    • Extensive listings of books we have on a subject (it should show HOW to find those books)
  9. Purpose of Libguides should be better explained
    • Students did not know the difference between the library site and the libguides
    • Once they navigated away from the libguide they rarely navigated back to it
    • Literature reports that lack of clear navigation through the site leads to disorientation

Best Pinners, Twitterers, and Bloggers to Follow for Awesome Content Creation Inspiration


How many of you become inspired when listening to an awesome TedTalk or conference presentation? When I attended sxsw interactive recently I thought my hand was going to break from writing down all the new ideas I was whipping up! I have created my top lists of people who post quality content for retweeting, repinning, etc as well as provide inspiration for my own content. If you have anyone to add to the list please comment below!

Pinterest Logo

  • Mashable– “Mashable is the largest independent website dedicated to news for the connected generation. We pin the latest technology, social media tips, gadgets and more.”
  • Brian Solis– “Brian Solis is principal at Altimeter Group, a research firm focused on disruptive tech. His new book, What’s the Future of Business (WTF), explores the 4 digital moments of truth.”
  • Maria Popova– “Interestingness curator & semi-secret geek obsessed with design, storytelling & TED. Editor of Brain Pickings.”
  • Joanne Manaster– “University biology faculty lecturer, science outreach enthusiast.”
  • Mental Floss– “Things you should know, nerdy products, gift guides, and other antics from the good people at mental_floss.”
  • PC Mag– “The Independent Guide to Technology since 1982.”
  • Adobe– “At Adobe, we break down barriers to creation. Wherever you are when inspiration strikes… Home? Create. Office? Create. Subway? Create.”
  • Tech News Today– “Tech News Today is a technology news website. Follow the Tech News Today (all) board for all pins.”
  • NPR Pins– “News. Arts & Life. Music. Everything and more from NPR.”

Pinterest Contests

I love a good Pinterest contest. Here are a few that I really liked:

Image Credit Link http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Twitter_hacked_by_Jarrod.jpg


  • I’ve created a list of people I follow if you’d like to subscribe.
  • Mashable’s 25 Tiwtter Accounts that Will Make You Smarter is a great resource
  • Profhacker– “Tips, tutorials, and commentary on pedagogy, productivity, and technology in higher education.”
  • ERandL– “Bringing together information professionals to improve the way we collect, manage, maintain, & make accessible eresources.”
  • Vsauce– “Our world is amazing. Follow for mind-blowing facts and the best of the internet.”
  • Mashable SocialMedia
  • Mashable Tech– “The latest Technology & Gadgets News and Resources from@Mashable.”
  • Jstor– “JSTOR is an online research and teaching platform that helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive.”
  • TheWebbyAwards–  The best of the Internet.
  • Squarespace– Everything you need to build an exceptional website.

If you don’t use TweetDeck I highly recommend it. It is an app that allows you to keep track of anything and everything you want to follow.

Image Credit: http://pixabay.com/en/icon-media-rss-free-information-41072/


Bloggers with Exceptional Writing Skills

I used the webby award winners for writing and started following them. It’s very useful to have an archive of great writing for content inspiration.

Image Credit: https://www.google.com/search?as_q=youtube&tbs=sur:fmc&biw=1294&bih=795&sei=ZgW2UYbtM4TVrQHutIGYDw&tbm=isch#facrc=_&imgrc=LKcjPBwyvFWu_M%3A%3BsxDd1bFpNFrq9M%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fupload.wikimedia.org%252Fwikipedia%252Fcommons%252F2%252F24%252FYouTube_Logo.png%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fcommons.wikimedia.org%252Fwiki%252FFile%253AYouTube_Logo.png%3B513%3B187

YouTube Channels

  • Vsauce– Amazing facts about our universe!
  • Khan Academy– “Our mission is to provide a world-class education for anyone, anywhere.”
  • TedTalks– “TEDTalks shares the best ideas from the TED Conference with the world, for free: trusted voices and convention-breaking mavericks, icons and geniuses, all giving the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. We post a fresh TEDTalk every weekday. TEDTalks are licensed under Creative Commons, so you’re welcome to link to or embed these videos, forward them to others and share these ideas with the people you know.”
  • Mendeley
  • Techno Buffalo– “This channel is a forum for all things electronic. Any cool things I pick up, I will review and unbox for you.”
  • Minutephysics– “Simply put: cool physics and other sweet science. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”‘
    • This is a great resource for interesting facts to tweet, pin, etc as well as a wonderful example of how to teach things simply.

Top 10 Hotkeys, Shortcuts, and Terms for Scholarly Research

Ok, in the spiraling vortex of information saturation lists of top shortcuts and hotkeys are about as prevalent as grumpy cat memes. So to ease your overly stimulated brain I am going to bypass the common sense shortcuts (CTRL + V, CTRL + C) and share some that you might not be aware of (or forgotten about). All of these are used specifically when I am conducting research. When I am researching any methods I can implement to streamline my process is vital. Here are my top 10:

1) CTRL + F

You probably know about this one but I thought I’d share anyway. CTRL + F “finds” a specific word on a webpage, word doc, pdf file, etc. This function is particularly useful when you have pages and pages of text and all you need to do is find a particular area or topic.

**If you are viewing a pdf file in a browser window make sure you click on the text area and then press CTRL + F. If you don’t you will just be searching the webpage and not the pdf file.

2) CTRL + T

Opens a new tab in your browser’s window.

3) CTRL + Shift + T

Opens a previously closed tab. In Chrome this works even if you’ve closed the entire window. Just open a new window and press CTRL + Shift + T and voila!

4) CTRL + Shift + Tab

Often times our tab happy fingers will skip over a field we meant to fill in. CTRL + Shift + Tab will go back to the previous field you skipped over.

5) Windows Key + Right/Left Arrow

windows key

This Windows 7 shortcut snaps windows to half of your screen . This is particularly useful when you are working with dual monitors and have 4 windows you want to snap. (The up arrow will maximize and the down arrow will minimize your window but I don’t use those as often.) This works with any window not just browser windows.

6) Google Search Operator: filetype:pdf 

This allows you to use Google and/or Google Scholar to search only pdf files. Just type your search term and then filetype:pdf and you’re good to go! I search Power Point presentations using filetype:ppt a lot as well.

7) Google Search Operator: site:.edu 

A lot of times I want to see what other universities are doing. So rather than sift through countless pages containing unrelated information I can search only websites with the domain .edu. You can do this with any domain .com, .org, etc. Combine this with filetype:ppt and you can search Power Point presentations from universities which can be really helpful when looking for ideas.

8) CTRL + W

Closes your current window/tab.

9) ” ” Quotes

Quotes search a phrase. I use this a lot in Google and Google Scholar but you can also use this in databases and the majority search engines you encounter. Ex: Searching for the clothing brand “bless ed are the meek” with quotes will make sure that you are searching that exact phrase not let’s say, blessed are the meek, which would be unrelated to the clothing brand and most likely related to the Biblical scripture verse.

In addition to searching phrases if you put quotes around a single word it forces Google to display that have that specific word (not synonyms). Ex: Searching for “easel.ly” will search for the infographic generator and not the word easily (which Google might try to auto correct)

10) CTRL + Tab/CTRL + Shift + Tab

Navigates to the next or previous tab in a window. You can also use CTRL + a number to go to the first, second, third, etc tabs respectively.


Use TED-Ed to Flip Your IL Sessions


Last week I attended the Texas Library Association’s 2013 annual library conference. My head was spinning with all the innovative fresh ideas that were shared! One awesome session I attended was Flipped Classroom: Supporting New Educational Models. The session consisted of a panel of 6 educators who shared their experience flipping their classroom. While it was primarily aimed at teachers and school librarians many ideas were shared that could crossover into the IL session. Ok, so I’ll start by explaining what a flipped classroom is:


A flipped classroom involves providing materiel before class (usually in the form of a video or a podcast) that the students need to read/watch/listen to and then taking class time for hands on activities. With flipped teaching teachers can spend less time lecturing and more time on interacting with students. Flipped learning allows you to spend your valuable class time on discussion and critical thinking.


One great thing about flipped teaching is that the instructor doesn’t have to make the videos themselves (although they definitely can!), they can choose from a myriad of educational videos that are already out there in cyberspace. One resource that was shared was TedEd. If your familiar with TED already you know what a valuable resource it is. TED-Ed teams up educators and animators to create TED-Ed Videos- exceptional educational videos for your classroom. Here’s a video explaining what it is and how it works:

TED-Ed carefully curates their video library so you don’t have to sift through a bunch of junk to get what you want.

  • On the homepage if you click on Find&Flip 
  • Search for “information literacy” or whatever you want your lesson plan to be and choose the video you would like to use
  • Click Flip This Video and add your own questions, notes, and resources to customize it for your students
  • You can also search Best Flips to find user nominated lessons as well as search by subject or series

And there you have it! Fantastic lessons and great animation that can be customized for your IL sessions. Couldn’t be any easier than that!


Here are just a few tips that I learned during the session


Using Hashtags to Teach Subject Headings

CaptureOne of the hardest concepts, that I have found, for students to grasp and actually utilize are subject headings. Because students don’t regularly employ them in their day to day life they tend to be cast aside for a comfortable natural language search technique. I show students how useful subject headings can be when searching in the library’s catalog and throughout various databases, but they still don’t use them when it comes to conducting research on their own. While mulling around ideas of how to teach this concept in a more efficient manner, a little light bulb went off in my head…hashtags! Hashtags are a concept that students already understand and implement and are a great way to teach about subject headings. Here are a few exercises that I have come up with:

  1. Objective: Show how hashtags and subject headings can help one find more information on a specific topic
    • Example: Click on a trending hashtag on twitter (located in the left column) and explore the various tweets on that topic.
    • Take that same topic and search it in a database.
      • Show the database subject heading for that specific topic and click on it to show the database resources on that topic.
    • Exercise: Have the students pick a hashtag of their choice and list the top 3 Twitter/Pinterest/Facebook results for that hashtag.
      • Have them use that same hashtag and search it in a few library databases and find the most relevant subject heading. Then have them expand/click on the subject heading and list the top 3 results they get in each database.
  2. Objective: Show how hashtags about the same subject but with different lettering can result in a different (and limited) set of results
    • Example: #napomo, #natpomo, #natpoetrymonth, #nationalpoetrymonth
    • All of the hashtags above are about National Poetry Month but they all lead to a different set of results!
    • You could then introduce how subject headings work and discuss that through the use of a “controlled vocabulary” subject headings are required to be worded in a specific way so the researcher will have a more comprehensive list of results.
    • Exercise: Have students come up with their own controlled vocabulary for hashtags. You could also have them explain why they used each hashtag (ex: shorter lettering makes it more conducive for Twitter use)

These are just a few ideas, but I think they could be really useful. Since students already understand the concept of hashtags this takes a lot of the “lecture” part out and allows more focus on activities and engagement.

Update 2/11/2016: I wrote an article for Computers in Libraries about my further experiments with hashtag IL instruction. Check it out if you’d like to learn more!

Alfonzo, P. (2014). Using Twitter hashtags for information literacy instruction. Computers in Libraries, 34(7), 19-22.


Formatting a Word Doc for a Paper in APA

There are pricey software programs available that will do this type of formatting for you, but with a little effort on your part you can bypass the price tag and do it on your own for free! This tutorial will cover how to set MS Word to check for grammar and style that is specific to APA (such as the oxford comma, checking for passive voice, etc). I did this in MS 2010 but the 2003 and 2007 versions can do this as well. You can also download the free APA template I created.

Page Layout

  • First you need to set your margins, font etc. Since there are many tutorials that teach this I skipped that part. I recommend Zane State College’s APA Guide. It will teach you how to:

Change font face and size
Set 1″ margins
Add a running head & page numbers
Format a title page
Format an abstract
Format a reference list (hanging indent)

Grammar and Style

  • From the “File” menu click on “Options:”


  • Next click on “proofing.” Under the “When correcting spelling and grammar in Word” menu on the proofing page select “grammar and style.” Then click on “settings:”


  • In the Grammar Settings dialog box select “always” for “Comma required before last list item” (otherwise known as the serial or oxford comma), “inside” for “Punctuation required with quotes,” and 2 for “spaces required between sentences” (this is an APA suggestion you can choose 1 if you’d like):


  • On the Grammar and style portions check every box in the list:



Heading Styles

  • Word has built in heading styles that you can modify according to APA. From the Home menu select the little arrow in the bottom right of the “Styles” box:


  • You should see a floating box that says “Styles,” at the bottom of that box click “Options:”


  • From the “Select styles to show” select “All styles:”


  • Now you should see all the heading style options in the “Styles” menu. Click on the drop down menu on “Heading 1” and click on “Modify:”


  • You will now see a “Modify Style” window. Change it to Times New Roman, size 12, black, centered, and boldface:


Save Your Template:

  • Title your paper something you’ll remember (I titled mine APA). From the drop down menu select “Word Template:”


And you’re done! Any time you need to write a paper in APA open your saved template and get to writing! When you save your new paper make sure to select “save as” rather than “save” so you don’t overwrite your template.


Looking for a Job? Don’t Forget about Alumni Resources!

If you’re one of the millions who are on the hunt for a job it might be helpful to tap into you’re alma mater’s alumni resources. That’s what an alumni association is there for! Try doing a Google search for your university’s name and “alumni resources” or “alumni association.” Most universities provide help with job searching, resume review, and developing interviewing skills. Also look into attending alumni events. It is a great way to network. Recently moved away from where you graduated? No problem! Most large cities will have various programs/groups available. Many alumni associations have social media accounts that help you connect here are a few:

  • InCircle
  • LinkedIn 
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Official blog

Here are a few services that alumni associations/career services offer:

  • Attend a career fair- these aren’t just for currently enrolled students
  • Resume review
  • Mock interviews
  • View current job postings
  • Attend sponsored meetups to network

Is a User Experience Librarian in Your Future?

Image credit: Daniel Würstl
Image credit: Daniel Würstl

In the library world information literacy (IL) is a major buzz word. It involves finding, gathering, and synthesizing information. Now, while IL instruction is definitely an important component to any library, it might be beneficial to use those same concepts within our own workflow as well. We talk about teaching others to organize and synthesize but often times we don’t organize and synthesize our own systems in such a way that users can efficiently retrieve information. A person can create excellent queries, but the query is only as good as the system (ex: library catalog). We need to be able to create and provide a system that supports the way users think. Trying to “bridge the gap between how information and knowledge are perceived, used, communicated and visualized by humans and how they are represented, stored, and managed with computer systems” (De Tre G. & Van Acker W., 2012, p. 305) is an ongoing problem.

ENTER…the User Experience Librarian! The user experience (UX) librarian bridges the gap between the back-end with the front end…the way computers organize data and the ways humans attempt to search for that data. User experience involves studying how users interact with a system and then creating that system to accommodate those users.  A UX designer is one who executes these actions. User experience is not a new concept. Most major companies employ user experience designers who attempt to harness the wild wild web and synthesize that data into an intuitive system that users want to use. They study user’s:

  • Personas
  • Past behavior
  • Time spent on a page
  • Interaction with a particular brand, etc

To determine

  • If something needs to be changed 
  • If the website properly addresses user needs, etc

They take in all that information and then design/tweak a system with the user in mind. The more intuitive the system, the more it will be used. Have you ever read a news article and had a suggestion for a related article? Or purchased a book and been offered related books? That’s a facet of user experience. But in order for those suggestions to be accurate you need to properly create a system on the back-end.

In the case of libraries it involves a person who both understands technology’s architecture and how users prefer to use that architecture. In relation to the library’s catalog it could involve:

  • Studying search functionality
  • The need to locally create discovery tools
  • Pagination study

Since librarians are better suited to understand library needs than say, a UX designer, a UX librarian might be helpful in your library. While dropping in at ER&L’s #ideadrop House I listened to Judy Siegel’s awesome discussion on UX and libraries during SXSI. She suggested a few ways that you can determine if your library has a culture that supports user experience design including:

  • Form a committee
  • Involve other departments and get feedback
  • Implement changes incrementally to determine what works and what doesn’t

Here is a great UX librarian job posting from the University of Virginia. I predict that there will be a lot more library job postings for this position in the future. Do some research and determine if this position might work in your library!

Source: De Tre G., & Van Acker W. (2012). Spaces of information modeling, action, and decision making. Library Trends, 61(2), 304–324.

**Update 8/21/2014: Here’s a new User Experience Librarian posting from the University of Arkansas

**Update 5/4/2017: Here’s a new User Experience Librarian posting from the Illinois Institute of Technology and one from Westfield State University


SXSWi Spots and Sessions for Librarians

Here is the list of all SXSWi events. There are so many sessions to attend and people to meet that it can be pretty overwhelming. When searching this extensive list try narrowing it down by theme such as:

I have listed a few spots and sessions that are great places to start. If you have any ideas please leave a comment!

#ideadrop House


Hosed by Electronic Resources and Libraries and ProQuest this is a must for any librarian attedning sxswi. This is a place where you can share ideas, attend sessions about digital librarianship, and network with your fellow colleagues! Attendance is free, click here to see the various sessions and speakers. Here is a list of just a few events:

  • SXSWi Kick off: Being Interactive @ Interactive
  • How to be Human Online
  • Social Media and Libraries

Librarian Meet Up

Free 3/10

Meet up with librarians who are attending sxsw, share ideas, network.

2013 SXSW Newbies Meet Up

The Mashable Variety Show

Must be a badge holder

Pete Cashmore will discuss the revolution of the Internet and what it means.  He will “explore how the world has grown and change due to the constant re-invention of the Internet through how marketing strategies have evolved, how news delivery has moved from your doorstep to your newsfeed, and how the Internet itself has gotten the world to reconnect through images, stories and sometimes, cats!” You will be sure to learn new methods for marketing your library, new ideas for to delivering digital content, and a better understanding of the ever changing digital stratosphere.


Must be a badge holder

Listen to educators who are focused on digital learning.

Digital Creative Job Market

Free, 3/7 & 3/8

Market your research talents to some cutting-edge employers.

SXSW Create

Free, 3/8-3/11

Are you a digital DIYer? Then this is a great place to collaborate! Even if you are not that tech savy this is a inspiring place to learn about new innovative tools and ideas. It could help you w/ your own library services or give you some awesome collection development ideas.

SXSW Librarian Guides

People/Groups to Follow on Twitter

Your Infographic Toolkit (For those with little to no graphic design experience)

Creating an infographic can be tedious and time consuming, especially for those with little to no graphic design experience. Here are the best tools that I have found that enable me to not only create an infographic but streamline my process.

Find an Infographic Generator

These are just some of the many infographic generators that are available. Generators involve you selecting a template and various objects, plugging in your desired info, and designing your infographic to suit your taste.

Create a Color Scheme

  • Kuler: Kuler allows you to create color schemes based on rules that you specify (analogous, complementary, etc).
  • Color Droppers: Ever tried to figure out what the hex value is for a specific color on a Webpage? An eye dropper is the answer! Simply hover the dropper over the desired color and get the hex value. Then plug it in to the program your using and viola! This allows your colors to be uniform across your infographic.

Get Inspired

The best way to learn how to create an informative, visually pleasing infographic is to learn from the experts. Take a look at your favorite infographics/visuals and make a list of all the aspects that you like. Here is a list of some awesome infographics that I have found.

Explore the Application

Every infographic generator has specific tools, templates, objects, etc that are available. Take some time to play around so you can streamline your productivity once you’re in “creation mode.”

Make a Plan

Decide what kind of information you want to share, what color scheme you want to use, etc. Miranda Rensch has a great blog post on how to plan your infographic.


Here is an example of a infographic I created with piktochart:


Top 10 Libraries for Academic Libraries to Follow on Pinterest


libraries on pinterest

With the popularity of libraries joining Pinterest I thought I would share the list of top 10 libraries that I think are worth following. I like to follow libraries that have boards that focus on research, technology, and interesting promotional ideas.


  • Post quality content for repinning- This includes content that promotes research, innovation, best practices, etc
  • Generate inventive boards
  • Employ creative titles
  • Do not overpost or have too many boards

New York Public Library: Boards include themed boards such as Downton Abbey as well as The Librarian’s List which includes librarian picks from libraries across the country (as long as your a librarian you can contribute to this board!) *Update: The Librarian’s list is actually managed by the O’Fallon Public Library. Contact Heidi if you’d like to be added to the list. 

Boards to follow: #ireadeverywhere, Book Pickings from Brain Pickings (a collaboration w/ Maria Popova)

Clearwater Public Library System:  Boards to follow: Infographics, Technology Tidbits

UW-Parkside Library: Board to follow: Research/Writing Tips

CTR Library at UT Austin: Board to follow: Research Tools and Data

Biblioteca UPM: Boards to follow: #readytoresearch, #academiclibrary, and #socialacademics (to name a few!)

Somerset Learning Commons: Boards to follow: Fun Tech Stuff, and Instruction and Scholarship

Birmingham Public Library: Boards to follow: Reference and Social Media/Technology

Oakland Library TeenZone: Board to follow- In the Margins: Books for Teens

Rice Library: Boards to follow: Research Tips and Tricks, Infographics, Marketing and Outreach Ideas and Libguides

Library Journal: Board to follow: Shush! and Library Design of the Future

**Update: Check out Top Libraries for Academic Libraries to Follow on Pinterest: Part Deux!



Tips to Make Your Resume Stand Out

In David McCandless’ fantastic TedTalk he says that “by visualizing information, we turn it into a landscape that you can explore with your eyes, a sort of information map. And when you’re lost in information, an information map is kind of useful.”  Employers these days receive hundreds of resumes. One way to standout from the ever-competitive job market is to present yourself in a way that engages others visually. This allows you to separate from the pack and present your skill set that employers can “explore with their eyes” (McCandless). The advent of various social media networks allows you to do this for free! Using the tools listed below you can show visual information about you that “tells a story and teases out unseen patterns and connections” (McCandless) that an employer might miss in a text  heavy resume/cover letter.

David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization | Video on TED.com. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/david_mccandless_the_beauty_of_data_visualization.html

Create a resume infographic with re.vu

*Update 4/9/17: Unfortunately re.vu has shut down. On their website they recommend using Impress.ly.

  • Area for short bio
  • Timeline visual for past work experience
  • Include links to linkein, twitter, etc
  • Ability to make visual statistics (pie chart, concept maps)

re.vu Barack Obama example


Create a digital portfolio with Wix

  • Choose from a variety of different templates
  • Create a different tab for each subject/specialty
Wix example
Wix example

Create an about.me Page

  • Link it to your wordpress blog and other social networks
  • Option to include your blog feed

Snapchat Explained: A 30 Minute Microlearning Event


I just wanted to announce another Snapchat workshop that I’ll be teaching in September for ALA’s eLearning series. This will consist of a 30 min online webinar where I’ll show you the basics of Snapchat: how it works, how to set it up, and how your library can use it. This is perfect for those who are not very familiar with Snapchat. I hope to see you all there! You can sign up at: https://www.alastore.ala.org/content/snapchat-explained-microlearning-event.

Libraries on Snapchat: A Directory


A lot of you have reached out asking for a list of libraries on Snapchat. Due to the fact that you can’t search Snapchat the way you can other social media platforms, this task is a little tough. What I thought I’d do is create a crowdsourced directory. I have started a list of libraries I have found; what I need you to do is to provide the library & username in the comments of any libraries that you know of on Snapchat. I will then add those entries to the list and voila; we have our very own comprehensive Snapchat directory! I look forward to your entries!

Academic Libraries

California State University Northridge’s Oviatt Library: OviatteLibrary

Central Washington University Brooks Library: cwulibrary

Columbia College Chicago Library: ccclibrary

Edge Hill University Library: EHULibrary

Fayetteville State University’s Chesnutt Library: UNCFSU

Loyola University Chicago: luclibraries

Maynooth University (Ireland): mu_library

Muskingum County Library: muskingumlib

New York Institute of Technology: nyitlibrary

North Carolina State University Libraries: ncsulibraries

Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s University Library: bmhoya

Raritan Valley Community College Library: rvcclibrary

Roosevelt University’s Murray-Green Library: rooseveltuni

St. Francis College Library: sfclibrary

University of Alaska Fairbanks Library: uaflibrary

University of Limerick (Glucksman Library, Ireland): libraryul

University of Maryland Libraries: UMDLibraries

University of North Dakota Chester Fritz Library: UND_CFLibrary

University of West Florida Library: wuwflibraries

University of Wisconsin Marathon County: uwmclibrary

University of Wisconsin-Madison, The School of Library and Information Studies: slis_UWmadison

Public Libraries

Anne Arundel County Public Library: aacpl

Abbeville County Library System: abvlibrary

Bacon Memorial District Library: baconlibirary

Bartlett Public Library: bpldsnaps

Berkshire Athenaeum, Pittsfield’s Public Library: berkathenaeum

Betts Branch Library: BettsTeens

Bucyrus Public Library: bucyruslibrary

Cape May County: CMCLibrary

Carroll County Public Library: libraryccpl

Commerce Library: librarycommerce

Cincinnati Library: cincylibrary

City of Santa Ana’s Public Library: SantaAnaPRCSA

Cleveland Public Library: cleveland_pl

Community Library Network at Hayden: snaprecommends

CWU Brooks Library: cwulibrary

Darien Library: @darien.library

Edmonton Public Library: epldotca

Frisco Library: friscolibrary

Ferndale Area District Library: FerndaleLibrary

Glasgow Women’s Library: womenslibrary (UK)

Glen Rock Public Library: glenrocklibrary

Hastings Public Library in Nebraska: hplteen

Hooksett Public Library: hooksettlibrary

Lane Memorial Library: lanelibrary

Long Beach Public Library: lblibrary

New Milford Public Library: teensofnmpl

Orillia Public Library: orillia_library

Parkland Community Library: parklandlibrary

Pickering Public Library: teensppl

Pima County Public Library’s Teen 101 Space: pimalibrar

Piscataway Public Library: piscatawaylib

Ramara Township Public Library: ramarpl

Raritan Valley Community College: rvccLibrary

Rice Lake Public Library: therlpl

Saint Paul Public Library: stpaullibrar

San Diego County Library: sdlibrary

Sterling Municipal Library in Texas: baytownlibrary

Toronto Public Library: torontolibrary

Three Rivers Library: threeriverslib

William Jeanes Memorial Library: WJTeens

K-12 Libraries

Bernal Library: bernallibrary

Bullard High School: bullardlibrary

Carl Junction High School: cjhs_reads

Dartmouth Middle School: dmslibrary366

Dartmouth High School: dhs_lmc

Fremont Middle School: FMS_Library

Hershey Middle School Library: hersheymslib

Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate/Junior High: hijhpantherlib

Hume-Fogg Academic Library: hfalibrary

Irondale Community School: icslibrary

Leon Springs Elementary School: lselibrary

Stevens HS Library with the Northside ISD in San Antonio, TX: NISDStevensLibrary

Ohio School for the Deaf: osd_library

Radnor High School Library: RadnorHSLibrary

Reedy High School Library: ReedyLibrary

Winkley Elementary Library: winkleylibrary

Special Libraries

ALA Ignite Session: Using Google Scholar to Teach Information Literacy



I rarely ever self-promote but I could really use your help. I just submitted my ALA ignite session: Using Google Scholar to Teach Information Literacy. In order to be able to present this talk I need to win votes. Here’s how it breaks down: “the public votes will be weighted for 30% of the selection process; staff votes will account for another 30%; the remaining 40% will be decided by an advisory group of ALA members.” If your interested in hearing about this topic please consider voting for me. Listed below is a description of the talk. Thank you so much for your support!

“Google Scholar has become extremely popular with students and researchers in recent years. The increased utilization of Google Scholar by students and faculty has caused the need for instruction on how to properly use it and maximize its potential as a research tool. Many librarians have expressed interest in teaching Google Scholar in their information literacy classes. This session will highlight how to use Google Scholar to teach basic information literacy concepts including: the utilization of Boolean search operators, search logic, extracting citation information, evaluating resources, and accessing full-text articles; and more advanced concepts including: how to discover new research, track citations, and manage information. With Google Scholar, librarians can teach these vital information literacy skills on a platform that students are already familiar with and utilize on a regular basis.”