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Useful Apps for Your Library

by on July 6, 2017

Back in the days of card catalogs, our reference staff made notes about people we met; experts in fields, along with phone numbers; a note about important books and what they contained which may be obscured—such as an index or an important appendix, or lesson plan. Without much thought of how we arranged these notes, they became a large unwieldly card file of information, and given our memories sometimes failed, we needed a search engine program to run through these wonderful gems of information available for public use.

Now more than fifty years later in this day and age of constricted language like BTW, GGIMA (good grief it’s Monday again,) and ROFL, we end up with “Apps.” In a former language called English, these things are actually computer programmed applications. “Distros” are actually updated software program distribution files which send us apps.

Like the handmade cards above, we now have those kinds of electronic apps; a way to capture important but elusive bits of information not in our databases, but in our cumulative knowledge which can greatly help our customers/patrons.

We are now living in a world of links which are supposed to help us in our daily lives. Often we now find searching for solutions brings us to databases of links to suggested problem solving or forums. The issue is these are often circular, one doesn’t always know exact terms to bring up a solution, and you can spend a good portion of time without getting the answer needed. Computer generated answers to our searches are unlikely to be what we need, and often following them don’t work.

Librarians are in a unique position to find those URL links, phone numbers, and people by collecting these undocumented bits of information, and this collection can be facilitated by certain apps.

We now have, by virtue of the Internet, enough links about apps to keep us searching for what we need for a very long time. Searching for “Librarian’s note-taking app” gives a result of 3,400,000 items. I don’t think there’s time to look and try out all of those.

Of course, each of us have different needs for which some apps might be useful, but our particular way of working doesn’t fit the way the app wants us to work. So is it trial and error that we use apps? Do we get friends to suggest a good app for us? There are of course resources we might use (see below links and reference.)

To fix things; to fix issues, we need to determine, as in all goals, the issue or problem. These are the things strategic planning is all about. What’s the mission, the goal, the tasks needed to achieve? Once we have that information, it is a good hunt, but not an extensive one. I’ve written about finding things; it’s a process which is pretty much the same as for finding the right app:

Example: Do we need to take notes? Do we need to find what notes we made? Is there a search engine for this app? What will it search? What is the criteria needed for my app? In the case of the Evernote app, I found it could search words within photos placed on Evernote. I find that wonderful and fascinating as it was something we tried to do unsuccessfully back in the 1980s. Do I use Evernote? Not now, but I may decide to go back to it if I discover it works better than some of these desktop search programs.



BookBub, a daily email that alerts readers to free and deeply discounted ebooks that are available for a limited time.


Selecting and Evaluating the Best Mobile Apps for Library Services



45 Most Exciting Apps For Librarians – This alternative list to Everything desktop search engine is quite valuable.

10 Must Have iPad Apps For Librarians

Apps for academics: mobile web sites & apps: Library research


Best Apps for Teaching & Learning 2016


Mobile Apps for Libraries

Mobile Apps via Alexandria Library


4 Android Apps for Managing Your Personal Book Library – This could come in handy for reference; categorizing books for different research requests.


A suite of apps for business, organizations, and churches.

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