Free digital tools that could make library school easier.

For the low cost of free, these apps and websites might just help you out.

I must preface this by saying that I am not paid or sponsored by any app or website here and that these recommendations come from my career experiences as a graphic designer and my time as a MLIS student. Additionally, I encourage anyone to reply to this post with other useful resources as this is by no means an all-encompassing guide and it would be of great help to other Hack Library School student readers. We all benefit by sharing resources!


Notion is a free text editor and notepad app that also does a lot more, like creating complex tables with surprisingly sophisticated drop-down options and sorting features. I am only just beginning my journey into Notion but it is so customizable and powerful that I might slowly begin to port over much of my Google app activities such as Sheets and Docs into Notion. 

If you’re a constant To-Do list maker or have a chaotic collection of loose thoughts in the Notes App on your phone, Notion is a fun way to turn that chaos into a streamlined system that works better for you across multiple platforms. Your to-do lists and to-read lists could live there, you could create a time log, or even make a table of job applications along with a Spotify widget to pump yourself up. The community makes tons of free templates as well. To get inspired about the potential of Notion, I encourage you to search the wonderful world of “Notion Customization” on YouTube where people spend hours and hours making their Notion layout perfectly reflect their personal aesthetic. 


Zotero is one one of the many citation managers available on the web and it is likely you have already heard of it as a library student, but on the off chance that there is even one reader out there still manually stashing away citations and references then let this be the sign that you’re working harder than you ought to. Citing in Vancouver style in one class and APA in another? Fear not, Zotero makes it easy to export bibliographies and choose other parts of your schoolwork to be more detail-oriented about. Additionally, I am oddly fond of the fact that it begins with Z so I can always find it in my app directory easily, and the list of internet browsers and other helpful plugins it can integrate with is longer than I ever could have dreamed. You go, Zotero.


Web design darling Figma was recently bought by subscription-based Adobe, so this app may not be free for long, but their side project FigJam is naturally positioned to be useful to library science and encourage you to check it out. 

FigJam is a user-friendly, collaborative flowchart app that works in-browser or on desktop. As it was literally designed for UX/web designers to collaborate on information structure it is naturally inclined to be useful for library professionals. I personally use it often for visual organization when working on group projects. 

As Figjam was literally designed for UX/web designers to collaborate on information structure it is naturally inclined to be useful for library professionals.


I am a Google Slides fan and also a busy student, so I don’t always have time to design my slides to be visually beautiful even though I would love to have the time to pick out nice colour palettes and fonts. Luckily, this is where SlidesGo saves the day. SlidesGo offers free Google Slides templates that are editable, and they have lots of different aesthetics to choose from. Having a nice legible presentation deck is important, but if you cut a few corners on design this way then you can spend more time on your writing and research.


While I have not personally used Prezi, I have seen dozens of classmate presentations using this app and I am always impressed by how engaging and impressive they are compared to a static Google Slide presentation. Prezi presentations animate, zoom in, allow for interaction, and are arguably more versatile and entertaining for students. I could see these working well in younger classrooms especially where attention span might be running thin.


Loom is like a video voicemail that I suspect web designers invented so they could avoid having long time-consuming calls with their clients. It allows for screen recording and webcam recording simultaneously, which makes it perfect for pre-recorded keynotes, video tutorials, or asynchronous meetings. If you’re in a school group project with students in very different time zones, then Loom could be a potential solution. Are you a teacher? Then Loom offers advanced features for free!

Online Voice Recorder

This website is extremely simple as it allows you to record your voice and then download that file as an .mp4 – I love it because I can play back my voice and trim the clip without ever having to open a big video editor or other third party editing program. Then you can chuck that .mp4 in a Google Slide deck so long as it is hosted in the same folder as the Slide file. Neat.


I Love PDF is able to make your PDFs tiny with very little image degradation, one of many convenient services they offer – for free! It is an unfortunate truth of the internet that PDFs are notoriously massive and file upload limits are surprisingly small. I make PDFs all day long as a graphic designer and I swear by this website, though I have no idea how they manage to accomplish the seemingly impossible task of making my monstrous PDFs so tiny without turning my image quality to ash, but they do.

Is there an app that is helping you tackle library school? Productively, I mean 😉 . Tell us about it in the comments so we can all benefit!

Lyndsay Wasko is an online MLIS student at the University of Alberta with an undergraduate degree in Communication Design from the Alberta University of the Arts. Outside of school she works as a designer and illustrator at Daughter Creative, where her work has been internationally recognized in Applied Arts and Communication Arts publications. In 2020 she was selected as Calgary Public Library’s Children’s Illustrator in Residence which inspired her to pursue an MLIS degree. In her spare time Lyndsay enjoys long YouTube video essays, D&D, and generally aspires to the life of a Beatrix Potter animal: baking, sewing, gardening, and exploring nature. Learn more about Lyndsay at


1 reply

  1. Thank you so much for compiling this list and sharing it with us, readers! My favorite resource that was shared here was “SlidesGo”. I’ve never tried it before but I am looking forward to it!

    Liked by 1 person

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