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January 28, 2015 / playforth

My bookmarks toolbar, or: the online stuff I actually use


When I was doing 23 Things for Professional Development, we tried out lots of free social web tools, some of which have already gone to the great html graveyard in the sky and several more of which I’ve never looked at again. But when clicking frantically between tabs during a busy day at work yesterday I realised that the contents of my bookmarks toolbar have stayed constant for quite a while now, ie. there are certain online tools and services that I couldn’t do without. So what are these magic bullets? And what gives them their staying power? (Nb, this post is not necessarily an endorsement of these tools over any other, just an examination of what works for me.)

Firstly, there are some tools and shortcuts that I use in cataloguing and classification work:

ClassWeb – obviously, this is a paid-for service, but it’s pretty indispensable if you do a lot of Library of Congress classification.

OCLC Classify – if you don’t have ClassWeb, this free ‘experimental’ service is pretty good at finding classmarks for you. I often go to this first to get suggestions before double checking on ClassWeb (which is a pain to search when you’re classifying obscure items from scratch).

Cataloging Calculator – a genius little search tool by Kyle Banerjee. Generates LC Cutters, MARC codes and various other things without hassle.

HOLLIS – this is the Harvard University library catalogue search. I use it to check catalogue records and LC classmarks when in doubt/feeling lazy. (Plus the LSE library which also uses LC and has some overlap with our collection areas.)

MARC 21 Format for Bibliographic Data – at least once a week I forget how to use some MARC subfield, code or indicator, so quick access to these descriptions and examples is essential.

I also use a few free tools in my repository and open access work:

SHERPA RoMEO – vital information (if not the final word) on publisher policies regarding open access and self-archiving in repositories.

OA Button – a bookmarklet for reporting paywalls and tracking the need for access to research globally.

OpenDOAR – the Directory of Open Access Repositories, handy for checking out the current landscape, searching across content and viewing statistics.

Then there are tools for discovering, organising and sharing resources: – I visit daily to update my Topic on open access and find new stories from across the web based on my saved criteria. I also regularly use their bookmarklet to Scoop pages that I’m viewing.

Netvibes – this isn’t the best feed reader (and is behaving particularly strangely at the moment), but it’s the one I’ve used for a while (since the demise of Google Reader) and I haven’t decided what to switch to yet. I did have both public and private pages full of widgets and feeds at one point, but have now simplified and just have private feeds, grouped into professional (mostly library blogs) and personal (non-work related blogs, web comics and a few podcasts).

Huffduffer – speaking of podcasts, a quick mention for this lovely audio aggregator, which lets you grab any audio file from the web (including via their bookmarklet) and add it to your page, which can then be subscribed to as a podcast by you and by other people.

Hootsuite – I use this to manage the library Twitter account (and to some extent its Facebook page too). It’s a column-style dashboard (browser-based so nothing to install) making it pretty easy to track mentions, messages, keyword/hashtag searches, lists etc across social networks. I use the analytics feature too for weekly tracking. (Nb we recently switched to the Pro version so this is another not-technically-free service.)

IFTTT – lets you share and manage content between web channels through customised ‘recipes’ with triggers and actions. At the moment I use it to auto-tweet new additions to our institutional repository (a Twitter action with an RSS feed trigger). I also use a similar recipe to populate the Lewes Blogroll.

It’s almost too obvious to mention the next two items, but I do use them a lot for social and professional networking:

Twitter – two things make my Twitter experience great: 1) librarians 2 ) lists.

Facebook – like almost everyone I want to quit Facebook, but I can’t risk not seeing cute baby pictures.

Other social networks in which I dabble include: Campus (for poets), (for hipsters) and Linked In (for fun haters). I think I’m on Ello too but meh.

The final category (project/task management) only has one thing in it, but it’s one I love (having tried and abandoned various others):

Trello – this is a simple, intuitive, pretty tool for managing tasks either individually or as a group. You arrange your project into lists (for example, ‘to do’, ‘doing’ ‘done’) on a ‘board’ and add virtual ‘cards’ to your lists representing activities or tasks. The satisfaction of dragging and dropping a card to the ‘done’ list alone is enough of a reason to use Trello for this kind of thing 🙂

And that’s pretty much all my usual suspects…

What are your must-have bookmarks, your daily fixtures? What tools have stuck around for you? Anything I’m missing out on that you want to recommend?


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