Friday, December 26, 2014

Canva: Make Easy Designs In Little Time

This article has been updated here:

I am very excited to talk to you today about Canva, a free online program which helps anyone create very awesome designs in very little time. This is a fabulous tool for the designer in your library, the person(s) who does your fliers and social media.
They launched just over a year ago and are quickly becoming the hottest new program for any designer. I've been hearing about it for months, but had been resistant to trying it out because it took a while for me to master Publisher. I had no time or interest in trying to master another program.

But that's the beauty of Canva. It isn't something that you need to master. It is very easy to use and their quick two minute tutorial can send anyone off to use their program successfully.
As you can see from the screenshot above, when you log into Canva, the first thing you do is select what kind of design you are making.  So, if you're doing a new Facebook cover, a poster, or a Twitter image, you just click on that design and the dimensions are already preset for you.
You can start from scratch or you can pick one of the templates that they offer on the left side. It is easy to search through them and adapt them to your needs. They do offer some free images and backgrounds and you may upload any of your own, but they also provide many different images that you can purchase for $1.

The only downside to this program is that they do not offer a generic template for all social media or a way to reuse one design in a different template. So, if your library is on Facebook and Twitter and you want to post the same content, you will need to recreate the second image from scratch. Yes, you can use a Facebook image for your Twitter account, but keep in mind that Facebook's ideal dimensions are different than Twitter's ideal dimensions, so your Facebook design will get cropped awkwardly in Twitter.
For the nondesigners, Canva also offers design school of short tutorials to teach you the basics to make any social media design look professional. And they also stream any images that people make public, which might inspire more designs for you to create for your library.  You can follow us at

Happy designing in 5 minutes!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Ready to Go Book Display: Be Healthier

Welcome to our series, "Ready to Go!" Book Display. Once a month, we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group (Adults, Teens and Children) that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. 

2015 is on its way! Since many people make New Year's Resolutions to be healthier, how about a display to help your patrons get started? Here are some ideas to check out:

Recommendations for Adults:

The Biggest Loser Bootcamp by The Biggest Loser (Dec 2014)
Everything from the online Biggest Loser Bootcamp is now in this easy-to-follow 8-week plan packed with diet, fitness, and motivational strategies that work.

The Exercise Factor by Jim Kirwan (Jan 2015)
The eXercise Factor shows you how to ease into the best shape of your life, regardless of your age, weight, or current fitness level.

Christ Walk: A 40-Day Spiritual Fitness Program by Anna Fitch Courie (Jan 2015)
Christ Walk outlines a program for individuals and groups to focus on improving physical health while engaging in spiritual and mental reflection and growth.

Fitness trainer, Jon Denoris, created a series of exercises and routines, most of which can be carried out almost anywhere: in the home, at work or outdoors. Hardly any of them require any  equipment.

The Best Diet for You! by Caroline Jones (Jan 2015)
30 of the most popular and talked-about diet plans are examined with information on its general philosophy, what it promises, how it works, and who it's best for.

Chia, Quinoa, Kale, Oh My! by Cassie Johnston (Jan 2015)
Wide-ranging cookbook featuring 30 superfoods and more than 100 recipes.

Recommendations for Teens:

Body & Soul by Bethany Hamilton (May 2014)
Professional athlete Bethany Hamilton shares her healthy lifestyle through physical and spiritual balance.

The Green Teen Cookbook by Laurane Marchive (July 2014)
Teens learn how to shop smarter, cook more consciously, and eat a healthier diet with over 70 recipes.

YOU Rule! Take Charge of Your Health and Life by Dr. Antwala Robinson (Aug 2014)
Using real stories, 19 years of nursing experience, research, and knowledge, Antwala shows teens quick and practical solutions on how to live healthy and be successful throughout life.

Recommendations for Children:

Exercise! by Katie Marsico (Jan 2015)
Exercise! focuses on physical activity while discussing steps children can take to practice healthy lifestyles.

Eat a Balanced Diet! by Katie Marsico (Jan 2015)
Eat a Balanced Diet! focuses on nutrition while discussing steps children can take to practice healthy lifestyles.

201 Organic Baby and Toddler Meals by Tamika L. Gardner (Dec 2014)
Tasty, wholesome recipes for growing babies and toddlers from 9 months to 3 years old.

Sugar-Free Mom by Brenda Bennett (Dec 2014)
Popular food blogger Brenda Bennett uses natural sweeteners like honey and coconut sugar to create delicious and wholesome recipes that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Library Market: Redefining the Digital Presence of Libraries

I am excited to talk about Library Market, founded by current librarians (Ben Bizzle and Joe Box from Library Solutions, LLC and Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library), creating marketing and technology products and services that real libraries need. Their current projects are ones which I hear librarians and patrons asking for -- and three of them is ready for you to implement in your library!


See your patrons using a smartphone? This app is for them! It will allow them to link their card to a digital library card and will no longer need to keep a physical one on hand.


Some patrons will never set foot in a library, but it doesn't mean that they wouldn't use your online materials. This service will allow patrons to register for an online library card to access your databases, ebooks, and other digital content.


Thinking of redesigning your website? They offer website development services to training to support.


Currently in development (I will update this post when it is live) and it is inspired from a current project, "The Library Facebook Image Dropbox". They will soon be posting social media images (collected from over 700 libraries) that all libraries can use for their social media networks. If you want to see what is already collected, use the Contact Us form for access to the Dropbox folder that currently holds 1,000+ images. June 22, 2015 UPDATE: You no longer need a Dopbox account! All you need to do is sign-up at Library Market and you can access all of these images directly online. Here's the URL:

I look forward to seeing what else Library Market develops!

Friday, December 5, 2014

ARCs: Advanced Reading Copies

Where do you get Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs)? This is something I've always wondered and I've been learning bits and pieces everywhere, but there seems to be no single place to go for the answer. So, I asked my fellow librarians on ALA: Think Tank to help me come up with a list. If you have any other suggestions, please share in the comments!

Quick ABCs of the ARCs

1) ARCs are available to create buzz for the upcoming book. Please be aware that publishers provide them hoping that you'll talk about it with your patrons and post online reviews.
2) In some cases (like Netgalley and Edelweiss), they have a form that you should fill out for the publisher. You can provide the link to your online review (blog, Twitter, Goodreads, etc.) or you can just write a few quick words to the publisher (I always tell them what I think are the strongest parts of the book and that I'll be sure to recommend this book to the right reader).
3) The more you do this, the more your ARCs requests will be approved. Please note, in many cases, publishers ask for feedback BEFORE the book's published date -- and many will set their e-book to expire on that date.

Digital ARCs

* Netgalley. Publishers post their ARCs, you request the ones you want, and you'll be notified which publishers approve you. I've had a lot of great luck here with receiving the books I've requested.
* Edelweiss. It is a little more complex than Netgalley and they're more particular on who they send copies to, but it works on the same idea.
* Library School Journal's SummerTeen Virtual Conference. It is a virtual YA Literature conference with author talks and publisher tables. You can go around to the different publishers and download a lot of e-books immediately! Even better, they don't limit the copies to a certain number of people and some of these books are not set to expire by a certain date.

Giveaways and Contests

* Goodreads.
* LibraryThing.
* Shelfawareness.
* Publisher Newsletters. Most publisher newsletters will include offers to send both digital and print copies. Check out EarlyWord for a list of publishers and how to get on their newsletter list.
* List Servs. Occasionally, publishers will advertise on the electronic discussion lists, like the YALSA-BK.

Printed ARCs

* Conferences/Trade Shows.
      - A lot of vendors will offer ARC copies at their tables. The easiest way to spot them is to look for soft covers that clearly state they are an ARC copy on the front or near the title page. They will also have warnings on it like "Not for resale!".
      - However, please note: only take a copy if you are going to provide a review. These are more expensive than a hardcover since publishers print so few of them.
      - You can find the list of ARCs published in the Library Journal and School Library Journal about a week before each each major conference.
      - Bring business cards with you. If a publisher runs out of a particular ARC, they will often be willing to mail a copy to you after the conference (Thanks, Tony Hirt, for the tip!).
* Ask Your Vendors' Representatives. Ingram and Baker & Taylor do send ARCs, if requested.
* Contact Publishers Directly. EarlyWord also lists how to contact publishers (Adult and YA/Children books), though don't forget your local small ones. You can also contact those who participate in the Reader Advisory Webinars.
Local Independent Booksellers. Ask them for their copies of ARCs when they're done. It might be a great way to start a collaboration, especially since ARCs cannot be sold.
* BookExpo America. If you want a lot of ARCs, the annual BEA is the place to go!

ARC Sharing Between Librarians

* YA Lit Google Group.!forum/yalsa-arc-share
* Goodreads ARC Swap

Special Thanks

I'd be remiss if I didn't send a special thanks to those in ALA Think Tank that helped me compiled the list: Tegan Jovanka, Kirsten Brodbeck-Kenney, Michelle Wise, Lori Juhlin, Jennifer Hooker, Heather Botelho, Jaqueline Woolcott, Stephanie Anderson, Susie Highley, Jenny Colvin, Tony Hirt, and Kristen Northrup Lindgren. You're all awesome! And, dear readers, if you are on Facebook, I highly recommend stopping by ALA Think Tank.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Every Day Money Saving Tips

Happy Black Friday! Today makes me think of a few of my favorite places to visit for the latest deals and discounts before I make ANY online purchase. As every penny counts, here are a few ways to stretch your dollar:

- Retail Me Not. I use this one all the time, very user friendly and easy to use. You look up your store, they provide the online discount code, and you apply it to your cart. Easy peasy! As with all things online, not all codes are successful, so Retail Me Not included a success rate with each code so you'll know how likely they are to work.

- Slick Deals. Very similar to Retail Me Not, but much more extensive and complex. They also have a great browsing page, so you can easily go through pages of discounted items and deals, finding great deals that you didn't even know to look for but are perfect for your library / upcoming program.

- Amazon Discount Finder. I haven't used this one yet, but I think it is a fabulous idea. You mark the category you are interested in and the discount percent range you'd like, then search Amazon!

- Camel, Camel, Camel. If you don't need to buy something quickly, check out this website. It will tell you the price history of the object and it'll alert you when the price falls to your desired amount. Great for large purchases that can fluctuate a lot in price and aren't needed quickly.

Happy shopping, today and any day!

Image Copyright: designsoliman / 123RF Stock Photo

Friday, November 21, 2014

LibraryReads: Top 10 Books From Librarians For Libraries

All around the internet, one can find articles about the top books to read this summer, this holiday, this year... But many of these lists aren't coming from libraries. I've always thought this was a shame, but in September of 2013, a group of librarians partnered with publishers to change that. You have to check out LibraryReads!

What is so cool about this initiative?
1. Every month, they publish a list of the top 10 titles that are being released within the next 31 days.
2. The nominations are only made by public librarians and can only be on books that haven't been published yet.
3. Due to the above, it is a great opportunity for librarians to band together and create buzz for our favorite reads.
4. Marketing materials are provided so that every library can easily get the word out to their patrons.
5. ALL public librarians are encouraged to participate, which means you!

Participation isn't hard. You need to make an account with Edelweiss, read an ARC (check out our next post for how to get an ARC, an advanced reading copy) and then write reviews on your favorite adult books. When you mark your review for LibraryReads (which can be a real review or just a quick "I love this!"), it counts as a vote. The top 10 books nominated are then published on the list.

This is only open to public librarians and the focus is only on adult books (YA crossover books that have adult appeal are welcomed). I am hopeful that they will branch out into YA and Children literature, but they just turned one year old last September, so we'll give them time. In the meantime, participate and advertise in your library!

Friday, November 14, 2014

7 Benefits of Cloud Storage for Librarians

Are you and your coworkers saving your work to "the cloud"?  There are many services to choose from (see this article in CNET for a great review of the top four cloud storage companies. I personally use Dropbox, Google Drive, and Amazon Cloud Drive), but today we're going to talk about why this matters for libraries:

1. File Syncing -- If your staff do not use specific computers, they'll want this. They just work on their file, save it in the cloud, and then can easily access it from any computer. Similarly, staff can access important files like event fliers, staff schedules, reimbursement forms and brochures that will always be updated with the latest information, no matter who had worked on it last.

2. Easy Collaboration -- No need to worry about multiple versions floating around! Stop emailing files and tell coworkers to make their edits directly in the cloud so it'll always be accessible at the current version.

3. Retrieve Old Versions -- Did someone accidentally delete your file? Many of these services will retain all older versions for up to 30 days. Get it back!

4. Easy to Use -- Some are easier to use than others, but the concept is really simple to understand and even your most hesitant technology person will be able to use it. Many of them just look like another folder on your computer.

5. Online Access -- You can even find your files online, so if you need something (i.e. a presentation) on the go, you can use any computer from anywhere to get it.

6. File Hosting -- Want to send a large file to coworkers, colleagues, or patrons? Many of these services allow you to make a link so they can download your file.

7. Back-up -- Never lose a file again! Since it is on the cloud, if your hard drive fails, you won't cry a tear.

1. Limited Space -- As with all freeium businesses, it starts off free with limited space. However, you can save a lot of files with 2GB, so don't feel like you need to rush to a paid plan. 

2. Conflicting Copies -- If you and another person (or the file is open on another computer) work on a document at the same time and then save it, it'll make two different versions of the document; your version and theirs. Changes won't be lost, but it may take some time to notice and merge them together. (This is not the case for services like Google Drive, if you're modifying via their web application. There, you and your coworker can both work on it at the same time.) 

3. One Account -- While everyone can create an account, it does NOT make sense when you're sharing computers. The downloaded desktop app is not intended to be signed in and out by multiple people and every time you do it, it needs time to download everything that's been added. Unfortunately the business version does not take this work practice into account, so even if you do a business account, you will need generic ones for your multi-user computers.

4. Security --  It is on the cloud, after all. But even more than that, if you are using one account and someone leaves the library, you'll need to disconnect their personal devices from your account (if they attach it to their phone or home computers), and possibly change passwords. If you are using the free version, it will only prevent them from receiving new files and updates; they have to delete the files themselves. If you pay for the business version, you can actually run remote wipes.

So, there you have it! The good, the bad, the ugly - in 5 minutes or less!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Ready to Go Book Display: Books for Gamers

Welcome to our new series, "Ready to Go!" Book Display. Once a month, we'll highlight the latest or greatest for every age group (Adults, Teens, Children, and All Ages) that you can promote within your library or order for your collection. 

Are you celebrating International Games Day at your library? Held every year on the third Saturday of November, it is coming soon on November 15th. Whether you are participating this year or planning for next year, you can always create a display to show your patron gamers that you love them. Here's some ideas to get you started:

Recommendations for Adults:

A versed celebration of the 101 two-letter words allowed in the game Scrabble, dedicating an original four-line, wryly whimsical rhyming poem to each.
(Great for Teens, too!)

Follows the author, who was originally just a curious reporter and now a Scrabble fiend, as he becomes an expert Scrabble player and delves into the realm of Scrabble culture. He encounters a vitamin-popping standup comic and the three-time champion who plays by Zen principles, and realizes that Scrabble is more than just a game on many different levels.

Bakerhaven Police Chief Dale Harper is perplexed by a piece of evidence in his first murder investigation - an apparent crossword puzzle clue found on the body of a teenage girl - so he recruits the town's famed "Puzzle Lady," the eccentric author of a weekly syndicated crossword puzzle column. The newest book in the series - Puzzled Indemnity -  comes out January 2015.

Of Dice and Men: The Story of Dungeons & Dragons and the People Who Play It by David M. Ewalt (Sept. 2014)
A definitive look at Dungeons & Dragons traces its origins on the battlefields of ancient Europe through the hysteria that linked it to satanic rituals and teen suicides and to its apotheosis as father of the modern video game industry.

Chronicles how Sega - a small, scrappy gaming company led by an unlikely visionary and a team of rebels - took on the juggernaut Nintendo and revolutionized the video game industry.

In a near-future world that is dominated by an alternate-reality game without boundaries, players find their real lives increasingly and violently overshadowed by the game and its escalating demands.

The creator of the popular "virtual Lego" game, Minecraft, traces his unlikely rise from a disaffected youth who rose from a family marked by drug abuse and conflict to a multi-millionaire and international icon.

Immersing himself in a mid-21st century technological virtual utopia to escape an ugly real world of famine, poverty and disease, Wade Watts joins an increasingly violent effort to solve a series of puzzles by the virtual world's super-wealthy creator, who has promised that the winner will be his heir.
(This book is also loved by many teens!)

Recommendations for Teens:

A father-son chess tournament reveals the dark side of the game.

Fifteen-year-old math prodigy Seth Gordon hopes to compete professionally playing the world's most popular computer game, but when he gets the chance to move to Korea and train full-time, he may not be ready for the culture shock and leaving his possible girlfriend.

Dennis, the son of Chinese immigrants, yearns to play video games like his friends and upon his strict father's death, becomes obsessed with them.

An updated edition of an ultimate guide to video games contains industry news on upcoming and noteworthy games as well as the most recent and best records and entertaining trivia for today's most popular games.

Immersing herself in an online fantasy game, Anda confronts a difficult choice when she befriends a disadvantaged Chinese child who illegally collects rare items in the game and sells them to other players.

The lives of two Minnesota teenagers are intertwined through the world of role-playing games.

The first installment in a series set in a world of hyper-advanced technology, cyberterrorism and extreme gaming finds talented young hacker Michael enlisted by the government to stop a violent fellow hacker who is trapping hostages in nightmarish, brain-damaging virtual reality environments.

Recommendations for Children:

Dylan Rudee is suddenly pulled into the world of his favorite video game, where he encounters actual monsters, giant storytelling spiders, malevolent hummingbirds, and the ultimate challenge of learning how to be a hero. (Good for teens, too.)

When video game obsessed Pete Watson discovers his dad is not only a super-spy but has been kidnapped and is now trapped inside a video game, he has to use his super gaming skills and enter the game to rescue him.

Twelve-year-old Kyle gets to stay overnight in the new town library, designed by his hero (the famous gamemaker Lugi Lemoncello), with other students but finds that come morning he must work with friends to solve puzzles in order to escape.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (July 2009)
As her mother prepares to be a contestant on the 1970's television game show, "The $20,000 Pyramid," a twelve-year-old New York City girl tries to make sense of mysterious notes received from an anonymous source that seems to defy the laws of time and space.

An iconic yet informative guide to video game terminology in picture book format.

Recommendation for All Ages:
From old-fashioned classics to new high-tech varieties, this comprehensive guide to playing games and creating fun includes intricate clapping games, bike rodeo and Google Earth challenges in this follow up to Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun.

Friday, October 31, 2014

7 Time Saving Tips for Ordering Books

If I could go back in time and teach myself one thing, it would be this: your book vendors have great features in their standing order programs to make book ordering EASIER. Oh, the hours I could have saved, especially when I was away on maternity leave, but still trying to order books for my teen department.

Below are seven tips you should note about book vendors (assuming you use something like Ingram or Baker & Taylor. Please note, I use Ingram, so these suggestions are coming from my experience, though I know that it's a common feature among book vendors):

1. They will automatically make lists for you. These can be reports or automatic orders. Do note: if it is an automatic order, you still will be given at least two weeks to check the order and see if you want to delete anything. So even if you have a limited budget, you have full control of how many books are being bought and when. You can also change automatic orders to reports at any time.

2. If you upgrade your account (which doesn't cost much), you can get FULL TEXT REVIEWS on hardcovers from all the top sources: Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, VOYA, Publisher's Weekly, Booklist, etc. In Ingram, they only provide this for hardcovers, but you can find these reviews listed below the book's description, all together and in one place.

3. These full text reviews are handy if you are researching older books for your collection, especially if you realize you need books on a certain subject but know that you can't just rely on new publications to fill this gap in your collection.

4.  You can also create review alerts where they'll make lists of all books that have been reviewed that month. There is even an option to limit lists to only the starred reviewed books, if you don't have time to go through them all.

5. They make lists for you of books that are on award, book club, and state lists. You know, those places you're checking out anyway to see if you want to order them. And, since you are now receiving full text reviews, you can easily see what other people thought of these specific books, too.

6. Everything is customizable, which means you can select specific nonfiction sections, fiction, and graphic novels as well as the age of the audience, so you only get lists of books you care about.

7. Lastly, it is such a time saver to have all these books in your online cart, just waiting for you. Those seconds add up when you're typing in ISBNs and titles; especially if you can't remember if you already order it, so you're typing it in again.

Enjoy the time saved!

Photo Image from

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Beauty of Shortened URLs

There are many places that will shorten your URL links for free. My favorite is Bitly but there are other popular websites that basically do the same thing, such as TinyURL,, and The concept for all of them is very simple:

1. Shorten your URL to make it easier to read and retype.
2. Customize your URL so it will make sense to your viewers (for example, three lines of a long URL for a Teen Writing Competition can be shortened to
3. Gather statistics on how many times they were clicked, where patrons found the URL (from email to Facebook to newspaper websites), and what time of day they are being accessed.

Why use this for you library? 

1. It is perfect for fliers. No one wants to type in a long URL and it fits much better if you're putting the URL on a pull tab flier. I've used it for event registration to writing contest submission links.  
2. It is easier to read in email and you don't have to worry about sending broken links. 
3. It's click tracking information is useful for targeting your marketing efforts. 
4. It is easy to remember. I made a short URL for our page test, which made it easy to bookmark the test to all 10 of our laptops. I also made resource guides on my Google Documents account, so when I want to add more information, I just have to type in the quick URL to access it (handy when you share multiple computers with your coworkers).
5. It looks professional. If you want to upgrade to a paid service, you can customize the whole URL to only reflect your name. But even if you use the shortener's domain, it just looks clean and organized to see a URL that makes sense instead of a URL that is three lines long of gibberish.

It is very easy to use. Check out a screenshot of Bitly (Click on image to enlarge):

Friday, October 17, 2014

Floating Library Collection

Yesterday, I had the honor to present on a panel at the Massachusetts Library System's 6th Annual Teen Summit. If you are near the Worcester, MA area and work with teens, I highly recommend that you check out their website and stay tuned for their summits in October. (See below about the other sessions.) The positive feedback I received on my presentation encouraged me to post about it here.

MLS asked me to talk about my Floating Fiction collection, which I do with the local high school, but really, it works everywhere for any population. Want to check out book club reads to commuters at the train station? Done. Want to check out books to the kids stuck at the military base? Sure can. Want to check out materials to the homeless living at the local hotel? Not a problem.

It does not take a lot of time and it is free to do!

1. Make a Google Account.
2. Make a copy of my Google Form and update it.
3. Make a generic "Floating Collection" library card and then check your books out on it.
4. List these books on the Google Form for checkout.
5. Save the form URL on your laptop.
6. Go to the new location and start checking in/out books on this form to your patrons!

For more information and details, check out my handout.


The topic of the summit was the New Basics and there were great presentations about:

* Stating from Scratch: My 18: Month Quest to Fill the Library with Teens, Convert my Colleagues, and Keep My Sanity
* Capturing the Elusive Teenager: The Teen Artists Coalition of Cape Cod
* Teen Career Fair in the Library
* Connecting through Clubs: Nerdfighters at the Library
* Teen Study Week

The handouts are posted on the left.  People are doing great things with teens, a population that seems to be regularly be under-served.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Fantastic Fiction: Author and Book Database

My favorite author and book database is Fantastic Fiction. They do a lot of things right:

1. They cover 30,000+ authors and 350,000+ books, meaning that 99.9%, they have the information for which you are looking.

2.  They separate the book information into readable lists: series, including series numbers, publication dates and what format it is, to the new books coming out and their expected publication dates.

3. They include the covers with the books and you can click on the title to get the full book description.

It is my first resource I go to when I am trying to find a list of books in a series. However, it isn't perfect. They do not cover graphic novels or manga. They do not label what audience the book is appropriate for, which would be helpful with authors who suddenly decide to write for a new age group (like YA author Ellen Hopkins and her Triangles book...)  They also have lists of new authors and popular books, but there is no way to sort ages.

Check out the screenshot below:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Awesome Box: Sharing Patron Recommendations

The Harvard Library Innovation Lab came up with a great idea that is quickly spreading throughout the U.S. called Awesome Box. It is really simple in concept:

1. You go to their website and sign up:
2. They make you a special account just for your library and give you a widget to add to your library's website.
3. Then you make a box (any kind will do, from simple to fun) for people to return items that they think are awesome.
4. You check the items in (via the ISBN number) on your library account and then check it in normally.
5. Patrons can browse everyone's favorites and see what their fellow residents really enjoyed at your library.

It is a living, breathing display of awesome items that your patrons recommend. Totally awesome indeed!

The Harvard Library Innovation Lab is constantly coming up with new ideas and would love for people to try them out in their library and report back. If you are interested in participating, sign up for their bimonthly email newsletter, which also includes cool links to awesome things. 

An example of what patrons see when they visit your widget.

Update January 2016: Unfortunately, Awesome Box is no more. It was a great idea with over 500 libraries participating, this service will be missed!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Schedule People Easily: Doodle

Ever had to coordinate when would be a good time for a group of patrons to meet at the library?

Or, perhaps, you need to make a meeting for the department heads or your colleagues?

Or, maybe, you have volunteers interested in working on a project and you want them to come when the most people are available?

Check out Doodle,, a free online program which collects and shows everyone's availability. You make a list of the days and times and email everyone a URL. They click on the link, add their name to the list, and then let you know the times they are free, busy, and can come, if need be. They do not need to register, so it is painless and simple to use. You can easily see all the results on one chart and can find what works best for everyone. In seconds!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Facebook Pages: Sizes & Dimensions

Do you design Facebook banners, logos, or upload images to go with your posts?

You'll be very interested to know that Yoconta has a Facebook page devoted to the dimensions of these images.  Like this page to be immediately notified of any Facebook changes!

Bonus: they do the hard work for you, telling you the differences of what people see on their computer and what they see on their mobile devices.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Free Quality Images -

Looking for quality images for your fliers, brochures, newsletters and websites?  Check out

-- Over 30 million stock images, graphics, digital arts, and audio files are available to you through a subscription that can be a monthly download limit or you can just pay as you buy via credits.

-- However, if you are making 10,000 or less copies, you can discover great finds in their FREE Downloads section, which gives you access to over 30,000 items.  Here's the link to the free search:

--  You can mark your favorites to your profile account, called "Likebox", so you don't have to download all immediately. Free images do expire from the website after a certain time, so pay attention to the expiration date.

-- Royalty free! Fine to use for advertising and marketing! Okay to post around and outside the library!  For more license information (especially to double check if any changes have been made since this posting) check out:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Install and Update All Your Programs at Once - and for FREE!

If you don't know this website, you definitely want to bookmark it for future reference! Ninite ( is the place to go when:
   1.  You want to find great free programs (anything from security to images to media to documents).
   2.  You want to download program(s) quickly, with just one click of the install button.
   3.  You want to update your programs.
   4.  You DON'T want toolbars or any of the other "add-on" programs.
   5.  It really is what they advertise -- click all the apps you want, click the installer, and then wait for it to download.  You are done in seconds!

Great for:
   1. New computers.
   2. Re-installing programs.
   3. Patron requests for free programs, like antivirus software and compatible Microsoft Office programs.
   4. Quickly updating your programs to the latest version.
   5. Trying to find great free programs. (If you want to know what they all are, this link describes them below the name: