Mastering the Top Tech Web Tools
by Dick Kaser
While the official theme for this issue is All Things Social, I briefly considered changing it to All Things Google, since many of the case studies rely on tools that Google makes available under an SaaS model. The tools really aren’t the topic—it’s the amazing things that librarians have done with them.
Take your first lesson from Daniel Geary’s pioneering spirit in using Google’s Dialogflow to tinker with AI in a private school library setting. His approach uses speech recognition, natural language processing, and machine learning—but by using web services, he didn’t need to master all those things to check it out. Neither do you.
Even simpler web tools such as Google Sheets and Google Forms can power innovation in your library, as authors Emily Brown Suon (Cranston Public Library) and Ariel Turner (Kennesaw State University) describe in their articles about tracking library spending and IT development projects, respectively. It’s not the tools that make the difference—it’s human imagination that comes into play in putting these tools to work.
Speaking of Google, there’s obviously the Google search engine and its academic cousin, Google Scholar. Yes, searches are free on these platforms, but how do they actually perform for public library patrons and serious academic researchers? Terence Huwe discusses the interplay between these public services and proprietary research databases. And Jeffrey Meyer adds in Bing and Microsoft Academic in a comparison of the two search giants’ performance.
Twitter makes an appearance in the issue—in the context of Mark Eaton’s article on using Twitter bots to teach fundamental programming skills—as does Facebook, with authors Sara Roye and Nick Tanzi’s tutorial on how to make your posts engaging.
Pick up more tips at Internet Librarian and Internet Librarian International next month. See you there.
Dick Kaser, Executive Editor