App of the Week: Paper

Title: Paper
Platform: iOS
Cost: Free with in-app purchases available

paper app logoIt’s been at least a couple of years since FiftyThree’s Paper app originally launched. The latest update brings the app to the iPhone and adds some new features, functionality, and updates. As a result the app is now, even more than it was before, a tool that teens and library staff will want to consider for their arsenal of creative thinking, note-taking, and designing tools.

Watch the 14.5 minute screencast below to see a brief overview of how the app works and read the rest of this post after that screencast to find out a bit more.


As the screencast shows, the Paper app makes it easy to write notes, to create drawings, and to save and caption photos. All of these can also be combined so that drawings can be added to images and notes can be added to drawings. With each iteration of Paper the tool becomes more and more powerful as something for teens and others to use.

How might teens and library staff that work with them use Paper:

  • As a tool for visual note taking. For some students using drawings and sketches as a way to take notes is much more effective than traditional text note taking. Paper can help with that visual note taking. If you want to learn more about visual note taking there’s a great post on Sketchnoting to check out.
  • For creating drawings when learning about visual arts. Learn how the Guggenheim Museum used Paper for this purpose.
  • As a way to create to-do lists for projects, homework, research, and more. Because the app makes it so easy to create lists and save what’s created into folders, it’s easy to create a collection of resources for a specific purpose. For example, a teen might create a Paper space/folder called App Project and in it save sketches of potential app designs, lists of URLS for learning how to code apps, to do lists for building an app or website, and more.
  • To use as a visual drawing tool during a brainstorming session. For example, as a part of a service learning project teens might brainstorm various outcomes of their project. In that brainstorming the teens could use Paper to visually diagram their ideas and plans.
  • As a tool to expand digital and visual literacies. In the YALSA Future of Library Service for and with Teens: A Call to Action report, the importance of supporting acquisition of media literacy for teens is highlighted as a priority for libraries. Because of the combination of tools that Paper provides, it has great potential for helping teens to develop skills in these areas.

Don’t miss the Paper blog – The Open Studio to learn more about the various ways you and teens might use the app. Also, as noted in the screencast, make sure to check-out the tips available within the app. There’s lots more possible then is highlighted here.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.
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