Thing 21: Student 2.0 Tools

The Assignment Calculator is a tool created by the University of Minnesota Libraries for undergraduate students. Students put in dates for the beginning and end dates of an assignment and its subject area and this Web 2.0 tool generates a 12-step research guide and timeline for the project and recommends resources and strategies. The Assignment Calculator is widely used and adapted by academic libraries across the country. It is available as Open Source Code.

The Research Project Calculator (RPC) is based on the Assignment Calculator and was created to help secondary students plan for and navigate the research process in an ethical manner, using reliable resources. This five step process includes deadlines and (optional) email reminders. The tool also offers hints, worksheets, and guides for various types of projects. While the RPC and Assignment Calculator are aimed at schools and universities, it is appropriate for public libraries, too. Link to it on a teen or student page, use the bookmarks to inform students and parents about their existence, and encourage students to use it as part of their research planning.

The Teacher Guide to the Research Project Calculator (on the RPC site) assists teachers in planning, managing, and teaching the often daunting research process by providing them with resources and step-by-step instructions, based on the five-step process outlined in the RPC. The site begins with an About the RPC section that provides an overview of the calculator, describes the role of the teacher in detail, and explains the resources included in the tool. There is even a streamlined version called "No Time?" for busy teachers. (Are there any other kind?) Public librarians and media specialists, as well as academic librarians, can use this feature to instruct teachers about the RPC.

For this Thing,

1. Look at the RPC and the Assignment Calculator. Don’t try to cover every aspect of the tools, but rather browse the steps and consider how you could encourage students to use this product.

2. Look at the supporting materials in the Teacher Guide. Are any appropriate for library handouts or can you find other resources to supplement what you do for students?

Blog Prompts

How might the RPC and the Teacher Guide help you help students plan and manage research projects?

Can you think of any uses for library projects—could you use it to help manage a timeline for a project of your own?


Friday Fun

Great cartoon created by one of your fellow 23 Thing'ers.

See the original post on eLynn's 23 Things Blog.


Thing 20: Books 2.0

With all the emphasis on online tools for learning and socializing in the library, what has happened to the book? This Thing looks at online sites that encourage reading and interacting books.

We know there has been much debate and worry about when and how people read, the future of the printed book, and our role in libraries in both of those debates. If you work in a public library--or use one--you know that people are still coming in for books and reading. While some say the Internet is making us stupid, other think it is not.

Even as the "book" has started to evolve into handheld devices like Kindle or Sony Reader, we know that there are still strong communities that develop around the love of books and reading. Based the number and type of Book 2.0 tools out there, the desire to read and share is strong among the technology users. The Internet and Web 2.0 have made it easier for readers to connect.

This Thing introduces tools and sites that make reading and books the center of their service.

1. Where do you come in on the future of the book and reading? Check out some of these articles or sites for some food for thought:

Future of the Book

Literacy Debate: Online R U Really Reading?

Fiction Reading Increases for Adults

NEA Report Reading on the Rise (press release)

How Libraries Can Survive in the New Media Ecosystem (PowerPoint)

Watch the video about Kindle 2

Kindle in Libraries

2. Explore one tool/site from each category in the Learn section. You don't have to go deep into the tool--look at the intro, FAQs, review the features, and try a few out. The starred ones are those we like.

3. If you already have a Facebook account, explore the book apps and add one to your Facebook page.

Books On Your Phone
Take a book along in your purse or pocket! These services let you read books on your cell phone.

*BooksinMyPhone formats and packages books so that you can read them on a java enabled phone. Most phones sold today are java enabled. The available books are out-of-copyright or Creative Commons-licensed.

txt2ph requires an Internet-enabled phone. You can download from their book collection or upload your own books. You can also read and discuss the books online.

*DailyLit lets you read entire books in short, customized installments sent to you by email or RSS. You can read on your computer or any mobile device. Has books for free and for purchase.

*Twitterlit "serves up literary teasers twice daily. At 9:00 AM and 9:00PM Eastern Time I post the first line of a book, without the author's name or book title, but with a link to Amazon so readers can see what book the line is from. Why? Because it's fun!"

Readers' Advisory
These sites help answer the questions, "What do I read next?"

*ReadingTrails lets you "discover trails of books linked by any possible theme, topic or whim, from guides to bread baking to classics of Brazilian poetry. At trail intersections, wander from trail to trail to find unexpected reading pleasures."

*BookLamp "matches readers to books through an analysis of writing styles, similar to the way that matches music lovers to new music."

*What Should I Read Next? Enter the title of a book or author you like and get a recommendation for something else you might like.

What's Next? Find the next book in a series.

Which Book? makes recommendations based on your descriptor choices. Borrow link goes to UK libraries.

*BookStumpers lets people ask about books they are trying to find based on vague memories. Other people make suggestions. It costs $2 to post a Stumper, but you can answer and browse others' answers free.

Book Calendar sends a book a day to your email or RSS.

Online Book Communities
Like to discuss books or recommend books to others? Find forums, blogs, and more all around books at these different sites.

*Overbooked is a "web site for ravenous & omnivorous readers. Overbooked provides information about fiction and readable nonfiction"

*Overbooked has a Ning--join the conversation about books.

Readerville has lots of book information, including a discussion forum.

Reader2 lets you put your reading list online and find other books to read. *BookGlutton and the

Unbound Reader offer a new way to read and discuss books online. Watch this video to learn more--it is hard to describe!

BookTalk is an online book group/form.

Bookmarked is Target's (yes, that Target) online book club with tools to organize, schedule meetings, & discuss online.

Living Social is a book organization and discovery tool.

Book Group Resources
Resources and discussion groups for traditional and online book clubs.

LitLovers started as an online course and grown into a public literature community. "The site is about WHAT we read, HOW we read, and how we THINK about our reading."

Reading Group Choices has lots of info to share with your book groups: author interviews, music
for book groups, reading guides--not exactly 2.0, but useful.

Reading Group Guides is similar to RGC above, but includes a message forum.

*Booksprouts is a way to start an online reading group.
Two sources for author interviews:

Wired for Books offers Mp3 downloads of interviews of authors. has video interviews (in case you couldn't tell by the title). "The social media video site offers the back story about the lives, personalities and the inspirations of these engaging writers."

Audio Books
We know you have audio books, downloadable and/or other at your library, but these Web 2.0 services offer something slightly different.

*Librivox aims to record and release all books in the public domain. It relies on a volunteer community to read and record.

Podiobooks distributes serialized audiobooks via RSS, much like a podcast. Listeners can choose to receive the episodes of books via their RSS feed or by listening to episodes by directly downloading episodes from the site. Includes mostly unpublished authors and a lot of science fiction.

Open Culture offers many free bookcasts as well as other recorded material like university courses.

Book Reviews
Metacritic summarizes the information on the Internet about entertainment, including books. Stopped updating, but still has many reviews available.

The Complete Review offers reviews of old and new books.

*BookBrowse seeks out and recommends only the most interesting and well-written books and provides you with everything you need to decide which are right for you - so you can browse the best and ignore the rest!

One Minute Critic is exactly that; quick reviews of all kinds of books. You can do this!

Book Rental

These services are the "Netflix of books" offering various paid account levels for book borrowing.

BookSwim lends paperbacks, hardcovers and, college textbooks.

BooksFree lends paperbacks and audio books.


Many 23ers liked Facebook best of all the Things they learned. Now take time to explore some of Facebook's book and reading apps.

Visual Bookshelf


WeRead (Books iRead)

*A list of book-related apps on Facebook

Book Swaps (Optional)

Got too many books or need more? These online book exchanges can help.

BookMooch lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want. Works on a point system.

Paperback Swap is more than paperbacks--hardbacks, textbooks, audio books, and more. Credit system.

*SwapTree has an algorithm to match your needs with others offers and vice versa. Includes books, music, games, and movies. SwapTree will even calculate the postage and let you print out a mailing label from your computer.

*BookCrossing Not exactly a swap, but interesting nevertheless. "Release" your book into the wild and track its journey via the Internet. Set up an account. Here is Bookcrossing in four easy steps:

1.Pick one of your books-one you have read or one you haven't read.

2.Log-in to Bookcrossing and click on "register book" under the "My Shelf" tab. Follow the prompts to register the book and generate a BCID (BookCrossing ID).

3.Write the BCID (BookCrossing ID) in ink inside the cover. Add a label or write the BookCrossing info. You can add some additional markings, stickers, notes, etc to make the book noticeable, if you wish.

4.Release the Book. There is much more information on how this all works at See how many books in the wild there are in Florida. Start hunting! And release a few of your own.

Children's Books (Optional)
Here are some innovative ways to share children's books using Web 2.0 tools.

*Lookybook let's you read entire children's picture books online. Register and build your own bookshelf to save and share favorites.

Storyline is part of the Screen Actors' Guild Foundation. Famous people read well-known books. Al Gore reads Brave Irene by William Steig, for example. Warning--opens with sound.

International Children's Digital Library has entire books online to read in multiple languages. Register to save books, choose preferred language, and more.

*Just One More Book "is a thrice-weekly podcast which promotes and celebrates literacy and great children’s books." Recorded in an Ottawa coffee shop.

Tonight's Bedtime Story offers free pdfs of classic fairy tales, many with illustrations. Wallpaper for your computer of various classic illustrations, too.

Vintage Children's Books is a Flickr pool of scanned images. Over 2500 members add to the pool.

Old Children's Books is another Flickr set of mid-century children's book illustrations.

Sillybooks "is an animated world of free reading, writing and learning fun for kids." Illustrated books read aloud and a place for kids to get their stories published.

*Recommended to try.

Blog Prompts
What are you observing in your library about books and reading?
Do you think these Book 2.0 tools hamper or enhance one's reading experience?
Which of the sites/tools did you visit? What are they appealing features? Any features seem unnecessary or just there "because"?
Do you know of other tools around books and reading we should know about? You can add them in the Comments below and blog about them.

Challenge (Optional)
1. Choose at least one of the sites/tools you explored and go deeper--set up an account and get started or go farther into the site.
2. Try out BookCrossing--let's see if we can release and hunt for books among the More Things Community.


Thing 19: Other Social Networks

MySpace and Facebook may grab the headlines in social networking, but there are many other social networks. Social networks are online communities created around interests with people-to-people recommendations and communication. These specialized social networks allow like-minded users to find and interact with one another, whether around crafts or cars or any other shared interest. In this Thing, we'll take a look at some of these networks.

The first three have broad appeal:

WebJunction is an online community and portal that supports library staff with technology and library development materials; provides courses for online learning and professional development; and brings the library community together in online discussions and programs.

Ning is an alternative social network that is meant for a higher level of customization by users. The networks are created around special interests, and any user can easily create a network. You can visit a Library 2.0 group or any of the other library groups created in Ning.

Gather describes itself as the “leading social networking and media site for adults, with some of the highest quality user-generated content on the internet.” Most of the discussion on Gather is in a debate format, focused around a single issue, book, or theme to appeal to busy professionals. American Public Media is heavily invested in this site as an outlet for National Public Radio listeners.

Other social networks provide recommendations and reviews, focus on various politicians, promote career development, or revolve around an interest like music, pets, or food. Even AARP has gotten into the social network sphere.

For this Thing

1. Read these articles:
How Gather hopes to be the MySpace for Books in Publisher's Weekly
WebJunction article: Building a Social Networking Environment at the Library
2. Find a social network that might interest you. Explore the ones mentioned already or try one of theses:

Classroom 2.0 Ning
College 2.0
Teacher Librarian Ning

Project Playlist

Bake Space
Open Source Food

Film Crave

Whats On My Bookshelf

Yelp (local reviews/recommendations)

You get the idea; there is a social network for everyone. And, on the chance you can't find a social network that matches your interests, start one of your own.

Wikipedia list of social network sites
Nine Ways to Build Your Own Social Network, TechCrunch July 24, 2007 Tips and tools to help your nonprofit get the most out of online networks, TechSoup, May 5, 2006
My Guide to Social Networks, a satirical article on social networks in PC Magazine

Blog Prompts
Are you a member of any online communities?
Are any of these social networks appealing to you?
What did you find that was interesting and that you might use later?


Thing 18: Facebook and MySpace

Facebook and MySpace probably get more mainstream press than any other tool on this list—besides blogging. And, as we all know, not all the press is positive. However, social networks are one of the main ways that young adults communicate with each other—55% of all teenagers use social networking sites. Use of these sites has even surpassed landline telephones for a certain percentage of teenagers according to a study (pdf) by the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

It is worth noting that these networks incorporate many of the tools we’ve already covered in other Things—blogging, photo and video sharing, internal e-mail, message boards, and IM. One stop shopping is part of their appeal--one user name, one password, all the info in one spot.

Another part of the appeal is the need to “belong to a group” that is a milestone of adolescent development. Young people create their own groups, “friend” people, and more, often without the watchful eye of parent or other authority figure. This is one reasons many teenagers like MySpace and Facebook. Facebook began as a college-focused social network—it originally required a .edu address to join. When it opened up to all comers, many Facebook users were not happy. The exclusivity for young adults seemed lost.

Of course, the lack of the watchful eye is, to some parents, teachers, and librarians, the reason social networks are suspect and can be prone to abuse. Many parents and organizations opt for blocking access to these sites. Others look to education on Internet safety, privacy, appropriate use of technology, and other issues as a way to allow use of these networks that are so important to teens and young adults.

So, what does it all mean to libraries? Whether or not you become a convert to MySpace and/or Facebook, it is important to understand how they work. If our young users are communicating through these networks, we need to be able to be there, too.

In this Thing, you are going to explore a social network. MySpace is the most used social network, but Facebook is currently the fastest growing social network. Facebook is more secure in that it is more difficult to see a user's profile until that person has accepted your friend request.

1. Watch “Social Networking in Plain English” by Common Craft for an explanation.

You have the choice of visiting either Facebook or MySpace--or for the ambitious, both.

A. Facebook

Facebook requires registration in order to view any profiles of members.
1. Register for the site and add 2-3 friends. If you have any difficulty, you can visit this tutorial. There are many other Facebook tutorials on this page that are useful as you find a friend. Be sure to let us know when you join, so we can "friend" you.

2. Complete a profile, write on at least one wall and join at least one group. Here are some possible Facebook Groups to join: (Groups are only visible when logged in to Facebook.)

American Library Association Members
Library 2.0 Interest Group
Libraries Using Facebook Pages
Librarians and Facebook

Or see this list of the Hottest Facebook Groups for Librarians -

3. Check your Facebook Profile at least once in the next week.

B. MySpace

1. Visit MySpace and visit some library MySpace pages and examine their content. Here are some library MySpace pages. You can search for others:

Alachua County Library District MySpace Page
Jacksonville Public Library MySpace Page
Pasco Libraries MySpace Page
Ask a Librarian MySpace Page

2. If you are feeling ambitious, create your own MySpace Page. Add the info to your blog.

Information Wants to be Free blog post that describes some of the pros and cons about venturing into social networks
MySpace Sign Up Step-by Step Instructions from the University of California- Santa Cruz's 23 Things project.
12 Ways to Use Facebook Professionally
7 Things You Should Know About Facebook (pdf)

Blog Prompts
Which groups did you join and why? Reflect on why Facebook may be the fastest growing social network. Is that reputation deserved?

How are libraries using MySpace?
Did you find anything on a library's MySpace page that would be useful for your library?
If you created your own MySpace page, how do you plan to use it?

Challenge (optional)
1. Compare and contrast Facebook and MySpace.

Back by Popular Demand

This week will be a catch up week. Please use this time to get your blogs up to date, to go back and fill in any Things you didn't complete and to post comments on each others blogs.
Enjoy your week!


Thing 17: Podcasts

The word podcast refers to a non-musical audio or video broadcast available over the Internet. Web sites may offer download or streaming of their content. A podcast is distinguished from other digital media formats by its ability to be syndicated, subscribed to, and downloaded automatically when new content is added, using feed formats such as RSS. Podcasts take many forms. They can be short 1-10 minutes commentaries to much longer in person interviews or panel group discussions--sort of "radio on demand." There is a podcast out there for just about every interest area.

Although a portable device is handy, you don’t have to have an iPod or a MP3 player to listen to podcasts. Since podcasts use the MP3 file format, a popular compressed format for audio files, you only need a PC with headphones or a speaker (and the ability/permission to download; check with your tech support).

There are many ways to find podcasts. This Thing introduces you to some popular podcast directory tools. Do some exploring on your own and locate a podcast that is of interest to you. Once found, you can easily pull the RSS feed into your blog reader (i.e., Bloglines or Google Reader) account, so that when new podcasts become available you’ll be automatically notified of their existence.

1. Watch “Podcasting in Plain English” from the Common Craft Show for an explanation.

2. Take a look at one or two of the podcast directories listed in the Resources section to find a podcast that interests you or listen to a local podcast in the list. Find some interesting library-related podcasts like book reviews or library news or a podcast on anything else that interests you.

3. Listen to one more of the podcasts. Link to it in your blog if you would recommend it to others.

4. Add the RSS feed for a podcast to your blog reader account.

5. Try Gcast, a simple, telephone-based tool that lets you "phone in" your podcast recording. Gcast says it's so easy your grandma could do it.

There are many, many podcast directories and finding tools out there. Here are just some of the more popular ones that don’t require a software download:

Yahoo Podcasts
Educational Podcast Directory
iTunes added iTunes U. Students can search, download and play course content that has been posted by faculty. Download iTunes (free) here for either Mac or Windows.

Blog Prompts
1. Which podcast(s) did you listen to?
2. Which of the directories did you find easiest to use?
3. Has this Thing inspired you to do any podcasting yourself or to subscribe to a podcast to listen to it regularly?

Challenge (optional)
Got something you want to share? Look at these sites for free software and hints on creating podcasts. As always, add any podcasts you create to your blog.

How to Podcast
Create Your Own Podcast
Audacity is free cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds--podcasting!

1. Create a podcast on a topic of interest to you. Post it on your blog.
2. Blog about your experience with the software and the podcasting experience.


Thing 16: YouTube

The world knows YouTube as the source of all things video on the Internet. And we do mean “all things.” The good, the bad, and the ugly are there for all to see—one reason many school districts and libraries block YouTube. Another reason is bandwidth—like music, video is a bandwidth hog. We recommend you complete this exercise during light Internet usage times.

YouTube revolutionized the way video is shared on the Internet by making it easy to upload and share videos. Other video sites have popped up, including Google Video. YouTube is owned by Google and a search of either service returns results from both sites.

There are dozens of other video sites, but among the Web 2.0 players in this area, YouTube is currently serving up over 100 million video views a day.

In this Thing, you will do some searching around YouTube or Google Video yourself and see what the site has to offer. You'll find everything from 1970s TV commercials and music videos. Plus lots of cool library stuff: library dominos, library tours, library ads, and library jokes. There's also the cult classic Conan the Librarian.

See also:
Library Musical
IT vs Librarian

Here's an entertaining Library 2.0 video:

Of course, you’ll also find a lot stuff not worth watching. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t explore and see for yourself what the site has to offer.

1. Explore YouTube or Google Video and find a video worth adding as an entry in your blog. Enter a keyword or words and see what videos have that tag. Like what you find? Click on more in the About This Video box to see a list of other videos with that tag.

2. Place a YouTube video inside your blog by following these instructions. These instructions show how to place other video in a Blogger post.

3. Blog about why you chose this video, any issues you had using the sites, and other thoughts.

Other popular video hosting sites:
Yahoo Videos
Others - top video site list

Blog Prompts
What did you like or dislike about the sites you explored?
Why did you choose the video that you did?
Can you see any ways to use video--YouTube or other sites--on your library Web site?

Challenge (optional)
1. Feeling brave? Make your own video and upload it to YouTube or Google Video. Promote a program or introduce your library to the community or something else. If you do, be sure to embed it in your blog. We all want to see it!

2. Jumpcut is a Yahoo! product that lets you upload video or photos, re-mix and edit them, and produce a video. It is all online, easy to use, and with many other features, including slide shows and clips to add to yours as you build your movie. And, like most Web 2.0 tools, it offers a community of like-minded participants who want to watch your videos and share theirs with you. So jump right in and make a video to share with us. Post it to your blog and let us know just how easy it is to be creative!


Thing 15: Rollyo

Do you have a group of websites that are your favorites? Or a set of online resources that are similar that you frequently use to answer homework or reference questions? Well Rollyo may be the tool for you. Rollyo allows you to create your own search tool for the websites you know and trust.

Take a look at some of these search rolls that have already been created:

Public Domain e-Books Search
Rare Book Library Search
Quick Quotes
Explore other rolls here.

Try a search for broad terms like "homework” or “history” to see results listed from multiple sites.
  1. Explore Rollyo and create an account for yourself.
  2. Create a search roll for any subject you like.
  3. Add a link to your search roll in your blog.
Your Search, Your Way

Blog Prompts
Can you see a potential use for Rollyo in your library?

CHALLENGE (optional):
Add your searchroll to your blog using the "Create a Searchbox" tool.


Thing 14: Online Productivity Tools

While it may seem that the Internet is populated by people with endless time on their hands who are out to torpedo our productivity, there really are Web-based applications that can improve productivity--or at least make some things easier.

These applications fall into a variety of categories including online office tools like spreadsheets and word processing, calendars, start pages, project management tools, to-do lists, personal organizers, sticky notes, online collaboration tools, and much, much more. A search on “online productivity tools” turns up many lists of these tools.

We have already introduced you to some productivity tools—RSS aggregators like Bloglines do save time as you keep up with the news and information you need. is a tool that makes bookmarking more efficient.

In this Thing, we have selected several productivity tools for you to try. Here are some tools we think have use in libraries and media centers, as well as at home.

1. Having a customized home—or “start” page—that lets you collect and organize information of importance to you all on one page can be a productivity help. iGoogle, PageFlakes, and My Yahoo! are three places to start. Each lets you choose headlines, weather reports, links to your email and RSS feeds, and dozens of other widgets (or gadgets, in Google) to manage information—or your life. Note that many widgets require a download. So, look at the intro pages for all three of these and choose one to create a customized start page. Add features, delete features, re-arrange the features on your new homepage. Each site will have widgets/gadgets to add and you can find many, many more on the Web.

Here's a Countdown widget.
Now you can calculate how much time you have to complete 23 Things @ NEFLIN!

2. Calendar: These calendars all offer similar features—add events, get reminders, search, repeat events, coding, etc. and of course, the hallmark of Web 2.0, the ability to share your calendar online. Google and Yahoo! Calendars integrate with their other services and features. Choose a calendar from this article and try it out.

3. Just about everyone makes lists. Try one of these online list tools to manage your activities. Ta da list or Remember the Milk

4. Some tools roll multiple features—calendars, lists, reminders, etc--into one service. Take a look at Backpack features.

But wait, there’s more! Here are some other tools you can explore on your own:

Online Calendars
30 Boxes

Sticky Notes (requires download)

PDF Converters
CutePDF (requires download)
Zamzar - This program will covert one file type to another. Especially handy in libraries that may not be able to open a student or patron file because it doesn’t have the right software.

Really interested in improving your productivity? Here are some lists of tools to explore. Although searching these lists and trying the tools might drain your productivity, at least until you find the tools you need.

Blog Prompts

  • Which start page did you choose?
  • Why did that one appeal to you?
  • Did you find a tool that has some uses for you at the library or at home?
  • How can the online calendars be useful to you?
  • What about the to-do lists—helpful, too much work…?
  • Did you try any of the other tools in the list?
  • Any good ones we should all try?

Challenge (optional)
1. Have a big project that you need to complete? Online productivity tools can help with complicated tasks involving multiple people, deadlines, and activities. Compare and contrast these project management services.
Let us know what you think.

Project Management Services
Zoho Projects

2. Explore more tools from any of the lists above. Share any you find especially useful.