When this month’s theme was announced I got to thinking of some of the innovations that have entered into my world since I was a child. I should state here that I am defining innovation according to its “invention” and “evolution” roots. I wanted to think about what new systems/ideas/products have been brought into librarianship that have made me wonder how we could have ever done without.

Like poor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, what have I grown accustomed to? So, I’ve been thinking about this for a while and here are a few of my favorite innovations without which I am sure my job and my life would be far more challenging and far less enjoyable. Read More →

Ever since I joined the school library world, I’ve been amazed at the ways in which seemingly similar professions (book publishers, booksellers, authors, English teachers, for example) know little about one another and maintain rather separate professional development lives.

In a past life, I occasionally attended the Association for Writers and Writing Programs annual conference (AWP). When I revisited this conference in my librarian role, I found stark differences. Where we celebrated new YA author panels, AWP had panels with authors defending their choice to publish in this area. Even vendors displayed a different side of themselves when surrounded by these literary academics. Then when I went to the Book Expo America (BEA) the following year I noticed that small publishing houses that had huge booths at AWP were hidden in remote aisles far from the glitz of larger houses. At ALA, a completely different view of topics, panels and vendors revealed themselves. The shifts intrigued me, and it got me to thinking…am I discovering all I can when sticking with my own profession’s resources?
Read More →


A few years back at BEA‘ or ALA Midwinter, a publisher’s exhibit gave me a great idea for highlighting books. They had bookmarks with stars above the titles which highlighted a title’s reviews and awards. Of course, by the time I wanted to make my own bookmarks, I’d long since lost the one sample I had from the conference. So I’ve had to make my own.

Since I could make whatever kind I wanted, I decided to make three different types:

  • One to highlight Award Winning titles (though I did not mention the exact award on the bookmark)
  • One to highlight New York Times bestsellers (because these titles may not be new, but they will be titles my patrons want to find)
  • One with a blank space (so that patrons or librarians could highlight titles) Read More →

Title: Bluefire Reader
iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch with OS 3.0 or higher
Android app is coming soon!!’ According to’ MediaBistro‘ AND’ Bluefire Facebook page‘ ‘ ‘ 
Cost: Free!

As a school librarian, summer is one of my favorite times to catch up on professional development and read as much as possible. This year I was lucky enough to attend ALA Annual (post on this coming soon) where I was showered with galley after galley of upcoming summer, fall and even winter titles. I left New Orleans with an entire extra suitcase full of finds.

Only occasionally during my rounds through the exhibit hall was I reminded of the great service NetGalley, which allows “professional readers” ‘ (i.e. librarians and other’ eligible persons) access to DRM and DRM-free Galleys of upcoming titles.

The list of publishers in NetGalley’s arsenal is long, and I’ve found out about many great titles through this service. ‘ I turned a few books down when I discovered they were on NetGalley…less to carry.

Upon my return from ALA, I learned that the iPads we ordered for the coming school year were in, so I picked one up with plans to try it out. I’ve put several different reading devices on the iPad; Kindle, Copia, Stanza, Bluefire have all been added, to name a few.

All are free apps, and all have their benefits,* but I’m highlighting Bluefire for a few reasons: Read More →

Title: Animoto
Platform: iPhone, iPad, iPod’ Requires iOS 4.1 or later.
Cost: App is free. Animoto has Lite, Plus, and Pro accounts.

Back in 2008, the YALSA blog raved about how Animoto could be used for libraries, and Animoto often gets highlighted during Teen Tech Week. ‘ So it seemed only right to highlight a great feature of Animoto. There’s an app for it!

With the Animoto App, you can create Animoto videos directly from your iThing. All those pictures and videos of programs and displays you’ve taken with your iTouch or iPhone or iPad can now be easily added to an Animoto video.

With the Animoto App, you can create 30 second videos. If you have an Animoto account (a yearly subscription that ranges from $30 for Plus and $250 for Pro) you can create longer videos.

In addition, once logged in, you can sync your account, allowing you to continue editing a video you’ve created on your computer from the ease of your iThing. It also means any video created on the iThing will appear on your computer account as well. You can also share or download the video right from the app.

It also means you’ve got a portable way to show off your animated book trailers or annual reports (Prescott Annual Rpt 2010-2011)’ when meeting new librarians at ALA or at your next meeting with a supervisor. And it’s it great to share how technology is improving your library?


Title: Hipstamatic

Platform: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch (4th generation), iPad 2 Wi-Fi, and iPad 2 Wi-Fi + 3G. Requires iOS 3.1 or later

Cost: $1.99+ ‘ (several “hipstapaks” come with the initial cost, but additional ones cost extra & it can add up, so choose wisely.)

You know those cool pics you’ve been seeing on Flickr and Facebook lately? The square ones with the grainy edges or shiny middles? The ones that look like they may have been taken by rock star photographer with an old holga camera? Chances are those photos were taken with this app. Hipstamatic can turn even the most mundane images interesting.

For example, here are a few pictures I took of simple things: my glasses, an owl. Which, I think, makes them look even cooler than usual. ‘ No additional touch ups were done to the photos.

Great for taking photos at book clubs, library events, and other occasions, Hipstamatic spruces up the simple iPhone picture into something eye-catching, stylized, and mood creating. At a recent event, I took hipstapics of my students, and they LOVED ‘ how the photos matched the feel of the night.

Photos can sorted into stacks (max of 9 shots sadly) where they can then be sent to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, or email. Photos can also be printed onto real live non-digital versions. For more info on their features, check their launch press release and this demo video:’ Hipstamatic User Interface Demo from Synthetic on Vimeo.

Do you use this app? How? Why not ask your teen advisory to use Hipstamatic to represent a book in one photo, since as they say a picture is worth a thousand words…

Name: StoryCorps
Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later

Since 2003, the nonprofit organization StoryCorps has been traveling around the United States collecting digital recordings of the stories of regular people. According to their website, their “mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. …StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 30,000 interviews from more than 60,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind.” You may have seen their silver airstream parked at a public building near you as they continue to collect new stories.

The organization has partnered with National Public Radio so that portions of recordings can be heard on Morning Edition weekly. They also maintain a’ podcast.’ Thus far, they have published two anthologies of interviews: Listening is an act of love and’ Mom: A Celebration of Mothers from StoryCorps. Perhaps your library has these titles. Perhaps you have already incorporated their oral history initiative into your teen programming.

If not, showcasing their App may be just the entry point you’ve been looking for. Read More →

Last December, ‘ my 12 year-old’ niece’ and not-12 year-old best friend both received Kindles for Christmas. By the time I saw them, both had uploaded a few books and a few games, and both were raving about the size and convenience. It was the first time I’d seen the new editions up close, and they certainly are sleek and clear.

My library currently owns two older edition Kindles (courtesy’ of a donation), and by Christmas, we were still wrestling with to how’ ‘ to acquire and advertise our Kindle eBook collection. In addition, my colleagues and I were debating the fit of a ‘ Kindle purchase model at our library, and so movement with the two we already owned was slow. I thought we had time on this.

But seeing eReaders in the hands of two of my favorite readers, I realized the eBook revolution had to become a priority. It was time for this concept to take center stage. ‘ So I’ve spent this new year trying to catch up on the eBook conversation, and figure out the best way to integrate eBooks into our school library.

I’ve asked myself a few questions: What are different libraries doing to incorporate eBooks and eReading? What are the road blocks? Is there a model out there that our library can follow? How do we’ proceed?

So far, the answers to these questions are vast and varied–‘ Here is some of what I’ve discovered. Read More →

For months now, School Librarian and SLJ blogger, Joyce Valenza, has been raving about Cengage Gale’s iPhone appAccess My Library,” ‘ which allows students and other library users access to their library’s Gale subscription databases.

But Cengage Gale is not the only vendor in the mobile marketplace. ‘ Other library reference services are also available on mobile devices. These services may not have “apps” per se, but they often provide a version of their resources that is more accessible to users on the go.

Here are some of the subscription services with mobile offerings:

Have you made sure your library is set up to take advantage of these great resources? If your library pays for this service, make sure you get your full money’s worth! Then, once you’ve contacted your customer support services and improved your mobility, don’t forget to spread the word to your teens via email, QR codes, facebook, twitter, etc. ‘ And if you want to get your own library mobile, you can check this blog post for more suggestions.

I’m sure I’ve missed some other mobile reference tools, so what else is out there? Does your library have a mobile presence? ‘ Tell us: How have you shared the great news of library mobility with your teens?

Title: MEanderthal
Platform: iThing and Android devices (a device with built in camera is needed)
Cost: Free!

Last May, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History got into the app market with this little number: MEanderthal as a supplement to their exhibit on what it means to be human. This January, I spent a long bus ride with high schoolers finding out the real joys of this resource.

Like the early humans, MEanderthal is simple and effective. The app morphs a facial image into one of an early human. There are four choices (two males, two females) of early human. A user can either take a new photo or use an already existing one. Once a photo is taken, you are able to scale the image to best fit the morphing program. Then you choose your species of human and watch yourself regress. ‘  Read More →