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!


Top Ten IFTTT Recipes for Librarians


Ok if you’re a librarian then you’re probably familiar with the statement “if this then that” (IFTTT). It’s pretty much a Boolean search that performs an action in a web application. If you’ve ever performed an advanced search, run a list in your LMS, forwarded your email to another email carrier, etc then you’ve used an IFTTT statement. IFTTT is a free service came out in 2010 and allows you to create and use “recipes” that execute commands online. For example you can backup your tagged Facebook photos in your Dropbox folder by creating the recipe “IF I am tagged in a photo on Facebook THEN I want to add that file to my Dropbox (THAT).” And IFTTT takes all the coding out of it making recipe creation a piece of cake 🙂

Here are my top 10 IFTTT recipes:

1) When you get a Gmail that you have a new Twitter follower automatically tweet them a welcome message

2) Back up my contacts to a Google Spreadsheet: Useful method for backing up your contact list.

3) When a new book is added to Kindle Top 100 eBooks, send me an email

4) When a new book is added to the NY Times Best Sellers List, send me an email: #3 and #4 utilize RSS URLs so the possibilities for this recipe are endless.

5) If I star a Gmail, send it to Evernote

6) Save the Facebook photos I upload to Dropbox:This is a great way to save the photos you post for your library’s FB account.

7) Log all of my completed goals (iOS) in a Google Drive spreadsheet: This is a useful way to keep a record of all your completed projects for your yearly reporting.

8) Tweet every YouTube video you favorite

9) Upload new Instagram photos to Flickr

10) Create a Facebook status update via text message: This is especially useful for those who have not jumped on the smartphone bandwagon. If you manage your library’s Facebook and are on the go just simply send a text message w/ the hashtag #FB and it will appear on Facebook as a status message. Now when you get an awesome idea for a status update you don’t have to be connected to the Internet to post it, all you have to do is text!

IFTTT also has a great user community. You can share recipes you’ve created or browse the ones that have been shared by others. You’ll be surprised w/ people’s innovation! If you have any awesome IFTTT recipes that you use please share them below:

Use a Backchannel in Your Next Presentation/Lecture

By Andreas Skog

By Andreas Skog

I went to the Texas Library Association’s annual conference for the first this year. I attended a bevy of sessions and felt like my head was spinning from all the fantastic information that was entering my limbic system! One valuable gem that I gleaned was from instruction technology specialist Jim Holland. He introduced me to the backchannel TodaysMeet. Once I was exposed to the glory of a backchannel I was shocked that not everyone is using one! Not one other presenter at any conference I have attended has used one. Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself, let me explain what a backchannel is.

Backchannels enable the presenter to use networked computers/smart phones/tablets to ask questions and access session links in real time during a presentation. TodaysMeet is specifically awesome because it is free and does not require the users to login or downlad anything. Sessions are archived anywhere from 2 hours to 1 year after the session. This type of tool is ingrained in the webinar format where users can chat, ask questions, share links, etc but backchannels make it possible to be easily integrated into the physical platform as well.

I used TodaysMeet in one of my information literacy sessions this summer and it went swimmingly. I was able to effortlessly create the channel, share links and respond to questions. What was great about it was that I didn’t have to worry about taking up valuable presentation time to share a link (even if you use a URL shortener it takes time for one to key/type in), students can just click and go (if I had a dime for every time someone asked me to go back to a previous slide so they could write down the link to a certain site I was sharing I’d be a rich gal!) . Also students that didn’t want to ask questions audibly could discreetly type their query. Here’s and example:


It is helpful to have a moderator who can blast out the links as you discuss them and ask questions as they are sent, but it’s not imperative. I managed it without a moderator and did fine.

As an attendee I loved how I never missed an important link or had to tediously type a URL. As a presenter I love it because it makes communication a lot more streamlined, allowing me to focus more time on content. I will be using the backchannel in every class and presentation I conduct and I suggest you give it a try! Also if there is a backchannel you recommend please comment below.


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

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!


Some awesome shortcuts for FF users!

Vernon Tech Tips

Browser shortcuts are pretty standardized. Unless you’re working on different operating systems, it isn’t likely that you will have to learn new keyboard shortcuts when you decide to use a different browser for a while. Chrome and Firefox – two of the most popular web browsers – have very similar keyboard shortcuts, but if you were to compare the two, Firefox has quite a few extra ones, some of which you might just like in Chrome and a few other browsers. Apart from the normal keyboard shortcuts for navigating web pages, or just using the basic Firefox features, here is a list of ten other shortcuts that work in the latest version of Firefox (and probably will in all future versions to come).

Menu Bar Quick View (Alt)

One of the many things that are great about Chrome is that it practically eliminates unnecessary toolbars and menu bars. With Firefox…

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