Favorite Tech Tools – GradHacker Reports

12/10/2011 § 4 Comments

Alex Galarza

Zotero has become my favorite tech tool for three
reasons. I have had great success organizing my personal citations,
collaborating with my peers in coursework, and building group a group
library for my field. I use Zotero as a giant net to catch all of the
citations relevant to my courses and research. Every course has its
own folder with subfolders for the syllabus, seminar discussion, and
research paper citations. I have also used Zotero to organize my
dissertation research, which at this point consists mostly of archival

With a few fellow Zotero-using grads, I have also benefitted from
setting up a Zotero group library for directed readings. Without the
weekly presence of an instructor, the Zotero library has been a great
way to maintain some structure in sharing notes and reflections while
also allowing us to share readings in a digital format. Finally, I
have set up a group library for the Football Scholars Forum, an
organization I co-founded to discuss recent works in soccer
scholarship. Three semesters into the project, the Zotero library has
become an invaluable resource for sharing citations, syllabi, and
ideas for future sessions.

Andrea Zellner

I have a good long list of tech tools that make my
life better as a graduate student. But my most favorite are the ones
that make collaborating with others a breeze. For this there is no
easier to access that Google’s tools: Google Docs, Spreadsheets,
Forms, and Presentations. With these now integrating with Google+
Hangouts, collaboration is made much, much easier.

On Google Docs, I can now share with a few people via email or via a link. I can restrict access to view only, comment only, or full-edit. It is even easier with the sharing via a link feature for others to edit: they don’t even need an account with Google to open up the document and experience the full-functionality or editing or commenting. With the Google+Hangouts with Extras, up to ten people can be synchronously interacting in a multi-party video chat, and in the middle will be the Google document. All members can see the editing in real-time andd iscuss it. Finding common time to collaborate has never been easier.If it’s been a while since you’ve looked at Google’s suite of collaboration tools, it is worth a look again.
Katy Meyers

Like Andrea, I also have a long list of tech tools that
help me out on a daily basis, especially Google tools and Twitter. But
if I narrow it down to the tool which has helped me out the most in my
professional life it would be WordPress. WordPress is a open source
publishing tool, and is specifically tailored to blogging. It comes in
two forms, the dot org version, which is downloaded to a server and is
more flexible, and there is the dot com version which is hosted by
Wordpress and allows for more basic blogging. Both are easy to use for
basic posting, although much more can be done with it if you work with
the plug-ins and know HTML or CSS.

I work with WordPress every single day. I use it in my job, for one ofmy classes and for non-academic blogging. Most importantly, I use it as a personal website. One of the most important things in my discipline, archaeology, is staying on top of current news and journal articles. I began the blog as a way to force myself to stay up to date with journal articles by writing short posts summarizing them. Now that I’m doing an independent study in mortuary archaeology, putting them on my blog not only keeps me on task but means that I have to do good work. My WordPress is more than a blog, its also where I put my CV, contact information, and professional work. More than anything else, my blog and website has been a major boon to my professional development.

HackLibSchool, meet GradHacker.

10/10/2011 § 5 Comments


I am pleased and honored to introduce something special that we are doing this week. We will be working with our colleagues over at GradHacker in a collaborative blog post-a-thon. Here at HackLibSchool you’ll be reading posts from some GradHacker writers, while we will be posting over there this week. Aside from a fun project, there is some depth here and a very important reason that this makes sense.

1. Library School students often get caught in library land and forget to think outside LIS. Actually, I think this is endemic of our field, and it needs to change. Collaboration across fields, ideas, disciplines, job titles, places of employment is what will define the future of information and its value to the world and librarians need to be on that boat. GradHacker has a great variety of interests and fields represented, and here at HLS we’ve tried to do the same, but only within LIS (finally an archivists point of view, but what about historians, engineers, archeologists, physicists?)

Collaboration is(will be) the currency of the information economy.

2. We are all grad students. Again, I hate to think I’ve perpetuated this even with the name of this blog, we, students in LIS programs, seem to get an identity crisis and think of ourselves as “library school students” and forget that we are also and more so grad students. There is a lot to unpack there that is related to questions of professionalization of our field, but as graduate students in Universities we have important ideas that are enlightened and useful for conversations and discussions around the academy. We are graduate students. Think, act, write, read, interact and explore like a grad student. It will raise our opinion of ourselves, and others’ opinions of us.

3. Technology allows and promotes us to have conversations in public with peers, colleagues and intellectuals. That is the driving force behind HackLibSchool, and GradHacker, and it is our duty and joy to take advantage of these conversations.

That said, I am very happy to welcome the GradHackers to our blog. Once you finish reading their posts here, go subscribe to their blog. Better yet, go write for them. Linked below are some recent posts I really enjoyed:

Be Nice to Yourself

How to Read a Book

Review Guide: Software for Digital Image Archiving

They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Personal note – I had the pleasure of meeting Katy and Alex, the lead editors of GradHacker, at THATCamp back in June. Aside from us all being intimidated by hanging around with every single Digital Humanities rockstar ever, we had some great conversations about grad school, blogging, scholarship in the digital age and life in general. They’re great, fascinating people (they study mortuary archaeology and Argentinean soccer! COMON!) and I am happy to support this project that they have taken on.

The Digital Public Library of America

05/10/2011 § 10 Comments

It’s not every day that I’ll take the time to stay up late to blog something – but I think this is important and wanted to share it with our readers. I’m sure you’ll hear and read many things about the Digital Public Library of America in coming days(weeks, months, years), if you haven’t already. That said, let me explain why I think this is important.

I’ve been following the development of the DPLA for about a year now, and the conversations surrounding it have been almost as exciting as the idea itself. So what exactly is the idea? In their own words,

No project has yet succeeded in bringing these different viewpoints, experiences, and collections together with leading technical experts and the best of private industry to find solutions to these complex challenges. Users have neither coherent access to these materials nor tools to use them in new and exciting ways, and institutions have no clear blueprint for creating a shared infrastructure to serve the public good. The time is right to launch an ambitious project to realize the great promise of the Internet for the advancement of sharing information and of using technology to enable new knowledge and discoveries in the United States.

What this sounds like to me, and the reason it feels so important, is that a group of capable and brilliant folks from a variety of reputable institutions (libraries, institutes, universities) have identified a need, and have initiated a grand idea to address that need. There are and will continue to be many issues that’ll need to be explored, as they note on the website, including Governance, Content and Scope, Legal Issues and More. However, I still think the matter at hand rings out loud — that information is invaluable and that it is our duty to provide access to it, to the best of our ability, with the tools available to us, always and forever. 

A few key points I think Library School students should pay attention to:

1. Someone else already wrote this, and I can’t remember where I read it… but… there’s something to be said about the name, “Digital Public Library of America.” “Digital.” “Public” “Library.” “America.” There’s has been considerable discussion about the inclusion of “Public” in the title, and since it’s stayed I think it is worth interrogating for a second. When we hear about a public library we have very specific ideas about what that means, correct? Will this body be living into the ideal of a public library, or will it be something entirely new? Is that a positive or a negative thing for all the public libraries out there? And, America. Already bold, seeking to include all of America is nearing brash. I do hope that this will truly be representative of America as the project grows, but again, it’s incredibly complicated and too early to know. Lastly, digital. That makes sense… utilizing the growing web of connections through technology to allow access to great resources. And yet, we still are fighting to solve the digital divide. Collecting every great resource into one central location of the web is amazing, but there will still be tons of folks who will not be able to see it, use it, or learn from it.

2. Who is involved? I’d encourage you to look over the list of names associated with this project. There are many people included in this that I personally have a huge amount of professional respect for, but you should formulate your own opinions. Are these people accurately representative of the future of what our great grandkids may know as the “public library”? The DPLA has worked to include many voices, by opening a public listserv (the 1st I’ve ever subscribed to), and a wiki. As Governance is solidified, this body could grow the DPLA in one specific way or another.

3. The technical infrastructure of the DPLA will affect all libraries and many information institutions (again, my opinion). There’s been a lot of talk lately about Linked, Open Data, and developing one standard by which these gigantic collections will be pieced together. If this goes as planned, we all (librarians) will need to have a real, solid working knowledge of how Linked Open Data functions in order to continue to make our work as information professionals useful to our user/patrons. (Also, check out Linked Open Data in Libraries, Archives and Museums – LOD-LAM)

I could go on, but following a great Twitter conversation Zack and I had while I was writing this — I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is the DPLA all hype? How will this affect our profession? Our graduate education? Should we revolt against MARC and DCMI? Against Library of Congress and NARA? Why isn’t this thing called “Digital Archive of America”?

I’d encourage you to take the time to read these posts – one from Jessamyn West and one in Library Journal.

New Writers!

08/08/2011 § 3 Comments

I am pleased and honored to present the first three of our new writers: Rose L. Chou, Ashley Wescott and Teresa Silva. We are very excited about their contributions and unique points of view, so please help me in welcoming them.

Rose L. Chou – San Jose State

Rose L. Chou is nearly halfway through the program at San Jose State University, where she is focusing on archives.  Originally from Greenville, SC, Rose lives in the Washington, DC area and works as a Circulation Specialist at the American University Library.  LIS interests include archives of color, archival reference, digital preservation, and diversity.  Non-LIS interests include pop culture and social enterprise.  Rose tweets as @roselovecand blogs at anthroarchivist.

Ashley Wescott – University of N. Texas

Ashley Wescott is currently earning an MLIS from the University of North Texas online. She is interested in youth services and library advocacy. Ashley works as a children’s services associate at a Chicagoland library, and as a research analyst for a marketing consulting firm. Her spare time is spent discovering great books, walking my rat terrier and seeing plays with her husband. Follow her on Twitter as@2thelibrary.

Teresa Silva – Pratt Institute

Teresa Silva is currently packing up her belongings and getting ready for her cross county move from the west coast to the east coast, to start her first year at the Pratt Institute School of Information and Library Science in New York City. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California Berkeley in Ethnic Studies. It was while attending college and working at the university libraries that she became drawn to the library and information science field. Teresa is interested in learning the ins and outs of becoming an information professional, in particular museum librarianship and archiving. She looks forward to learning more about the challenges that confront LIS students and writing about them. She’ll be documenting her life as a student once again and living and new city on her blog. Follow her (brand new!) Twitter account @bibliotree. « Read the rest of this entry »


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