Tech Tools for LIS Students {Starter Kit}

My MLIS program has a strong commitment to encouraging students to use various online and computer-based presentation/communication tools in class projects. We use a number of different programs in addition to the course management system on campus (Desire2Learn, which is like Blackboard and Moodle). This immersion in the wide range of tech tools allows us to build our toolkits for future use and to familiarize us with the constant learning necessary for keeping up-to-date on technology. While sometimes suggest particular programs to use, a lot of the time, students share with each other the various tools they’ve found. As a result, I’ve been fortunate to hear about a lot of free, online programs to use for various reasons. I’d like to share these tools and encourage others to post in the comments about other cool tools they’ve used or heard about! I’d also love to hear how you’ve used more familiar tools in interesting ways for class projects or library-related tasks.

Disclaimer: Listing of sites in this post does not constitute official Hack Library School endorsement of the sites and their services.

Online collaboration and presentation tools (slides, videos, etc.)

  • SlideRocket:A presentation tool that also includes interactive features like polls for the audience. (Note: free version available for students.)
  • Prezi: I think many people have heard of Prezi, the zooming presentation tool that offers a dynamic variation of the slideshow. Some people experience vertigo with the more extreme zooming, though, so use with caution! The site provides more features for users who sign up with a school email account (ending in .edu).
  • Storybird: For the visually-oriented, Storybird provides lots of illustrations that you can use to create a presentation or a story. This site is particularly wonderful for storytelling classes and other youth-oriented presentations.
  • PBworks (wiki): This site allows you to create wiki workspaces for collaborative building of content on webpages. I used the site with a group last fall to build a site of information about the technology we used to communicate and construct our group presentation over the course of the semester: MLIS Tech Toolkit (includes some other online tools like QR code generators and faux-Facebook wall pages). All of the student groups in my program also use this site as a communication tool to post meeting minutes, draft letters, plan projects, and otherwise share information.
  • Piktochart: This site offers templates for creating infographics.
  • Mindomo: Mindomo is a concept mapping tool that helps you visualize connections between ideas. It is useful as a planning tool for group projects and can also double as a presentation platform. You can see the concept map my group created while putting together a presentation on technology and libraries: Technology Presentation.
  • Google Drive and Google Sites: Google of course has many tools for communication and other things. I’ve used Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) to write papers and make slideshows collaboratively with classmates. Google Sites allows you to build simple websites quickly.
  • WordPress: Though primarily a blogging platform, WordPress also has templates that make for good multipage websites.

Live communication and social media

  • TodaysMeet: This site allows you to create backchannel chat rooms that you can use in various contexts to allow people to carry on a conversation during an event (like a presentation, a class lecture, a workshop, etc.).
  • Poll Everywhere: This site offers real-time polling via text message, tweeting, and online web interface. You can set up a poll that updates in real time on a projected screen to show audience feedback, for example.
  • Storify: There a number of these second-order types of social media sites that help repackage social media feeds.

Library-oriented sites

  • Library Thing: Library Thing allows you to build collections of books, essentially creating a catalog that also has social media features (ability to connect with other users/collections and to access reviews across the site). We briefly looked at this site in a class to talk about the interface between traditional catalog metadata and social media tagging.
  • Omeka: Omeka allows users to create digital collections and provides substantive metadata features for organizing digital objects and making them accessible.
  • Open Library: This site aims to be a universal library catalog with a page of information for every book ever published.

Also check out previous posts in our technology category for discussions of other tech tools and social media sites.

Caution: As librarians-in-training, we should all be careful about signing up for sites, especially ones that are putatively free. Make sure to read EULAs and consider what rights you are giving to the company to use their site (and contributing your content) and think about intellectual property issues when you are curating other people’s things for public circulation. As a side note, I think all librarians should be familiar with Creative Commons as one organization actively working to make knowledge available while protecting intellectual property.

14 replies

  1. Thanks so much! Some of these I’ve heard of, others I’m looking forward to checking out. I like goodreads, personally, but may have to take a peek at Library Thing.


    • I actually use Goodreads to keep track of personal reading, and Library Thing as a catalog for an online review site I am a part of. They are really quite similar, but Library Thing definitely has more librarian-y tools (easier to manipulate metadata) while Goodreads is slightly easier to use for social reading. I have to admit I don’t really do much of the social connection stuff on either site, though.


    • I keep hearing about other tech tools! Just this last week, I think people have mentioned a handful of things that I’d never heard of before and that I meant to jot down to try out myself….


    • Interesting link! I’ll have to try it out. Yes, EULAs are daunting, and a translation or simplification tool is a great idea.

      I’m only used D2L’s internal locker minimally. I think I put a PowerPoint file in a group locker once, but we had made the slideshow on Google Docs originally.


  2. Hi there,

    In my first semester of library school here! Stumbled upon your blog and love! it! I am wondering if there are any “core” books, either textbook or not, that fellow librarians and LIS students would recommend as having in a personal collection.



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