by Amanda Viana, Head Editor, INALJ Massachusetts
previously published 5/13/13
4 Reference tools that save my life (on a daily basis)
(editor’s note: Astrid is no longer available- add in the comments your nominees for #4)
- Diigo: There are quite a few social bookmarking sites out there, but Diigo has been my professional go-to site at the Reference Desk. When I started my job I wanted to take advantage of the sites my predecessor had found useful, but a long list of web bookmarks didn’t work for me: enter Diigo. Using the Diigolet tool I can bookmark helpful websites, highlight, add sticky notes, and tag. Putting all of my Reference bookmarks in one place with searchable tags allows me to cultivate a collection of sites that I regularly use to help patrons find information. I can also expand my collection by viewing popular websites tagged by other Diigo users.
- Feedly: Like just about everyone else on the planet, I was dismayed to learn that Google would be phasing out Reader. Looking back I’m not sure why. Sure I’ve used Google Reader since I decided to start my MLIS. And it was very convenient, the way I didn’t have to log in to a separate program or do any kind of organizing at all. But I’m realizing that for years I’ve just listlessly clicked through those blog posts with very little engagement. Making the switch to Feedly has changed that. Bright and cheerful color schemes, easy-to-use lists, and layout options that include photos make this reader much more engaging. Seamless transition from Reader, and the Feedly extension that allows me to add and share on social networks as I browse and puts my reading list one click away–make it irresistible.
- Print Friendly & PDF: Of all the tools that make my job easier, this may be the one I’m most excited about. Changes in web design have made sites more accessible and attractive, but many of those changes don’t translate to the printed page. I don’t know how many times I’ve helped a patron find information only to have them waste money on pages of useless pictures, ads, and blank pages. Print Friendly and PDF allows the user to copy and paste a URL or use the browser bookmarklet to transform a web page into a printable page. Simply click on unnecessary page elements to delete them from the printed copy and create a clean customized document. The site also allows the user to email the webpage or convert it to a PDF. Librarian friendly, patron friendly, planet friendly.
- Astrid Tasks and To-Do List: I only started using Astrid about a month ago after a coworker introduced me to it. In addition to the awfully cute pink squid mascot, Astrid is an amazing task manager. Create lists of tasks, add notes, set due dates down to the minute (with reminders), and even create repeating tasks. Best of all, Astrid facilitates team projects; team members can ask for help with duties, assign tasks, share comments, and inform teammates when jobs are completed. From the most routine duties to the most complex group activities Astrid helps me manage my time and complete tasks by their deadlines—like a tiny pink personal assistant. A web program, Chrome add-on, and Apple/Android apps help keep me synced all the time.