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Social Cataloging: Goodreads & Library Thing

12 Nov

As someone who has around 300 books in their personal collection, I find sites such as Goodreads and Library Thing to be very useful to say the least. I have been using Goodreads for around a year and a half now, and although I had a Library Thing account for just as long I am just now coming around to using it again. Why? Glad you asked!

Even before I started my MLIS degree I was looking for a way to organize my books as well as a way to keep track of what books I have read and what I thought of them. I came across Library Thing first and played with it but for some reason dropped it and found Goodreads instead. I am not sure why I did that at the time, but now that I have been playing with them both here is what I think of both of them.


To get straight to is, I like Goodreads (GR) for their social aspect. I have it linked with my Facebook account so whenever I update my status on GR it updates on Facebook as well. I also have it set up so that when my Facebook friends create an account on GR they are automatically added to my friends list. It makes finding and following friends much easier.

I created this account for the sole purpose of helping me remember what books I have read and to keep a running tally of books that I want to read. It has a great, easy to use interface that is very welcoming to the new user. I won’t waste a ton of time here discussing how to use the website because a quick trip over there and five minutes of playing and you will just about be a pro! Within a few minutes of playing around you can add all the books you remember reading as well as adjust the edition of the books so that it reflects the exact copy you read (admittedly this is a bit gimmicky but also very fun).

When you select your book’s edition and add it to your “Currently Reading” list you are able to update your reading progress so that you can track how much you have read and when. Then when you have marked the book as “Read” you can write a review and rate it (5 star rating system) so that your friends can read it, or even the public if you have your settings programmed that way.

I love GRs for tracking my reading progress, however I don’t find GR very good for cataloging my own library. This is where Library Thing shines.

Library Thing

When I first playing with Library Thing (LT) I didn’t care for it much. I didn’t like the layout and the HTML feel of the site nor did I see a way to do what Goodreads did which was updating reading progress. However, now that I have gone back and looked through what LT offers it meets different needs. Although I still don’t see a way to notate reading progress (which may be there, but I haven’t played enough to find it) but what I do see, is a way to catalog a personal library.

This may sound unexciting, but it was a problem I had been facing for a while. As I stated above I have around 300 books and no real why to keep track of them. I tried to create an Excel spreadsheet which worked OK for a while, but it was very time-consuming (especially because I had to look up the call number I wanted to use which took quite a while) and very annoying to update. But LT is quite easy, again I won’t go into all the details because it is easy enough to play and figure it out.

When you search for your book you can choose the edition and all the details, but the best part is that you can choose how and what details you want shown. You can choose to show the Title, Author, ISBN, LC Call number, reviews, etc. etc. It also links to various book sites like,, google books, and This doesn’t make for good social sharing but it does help a Bibliophile like myself organize what I have at home!


So basically, both sites are great! They help users document what they have read and interact with fellow readers.



The Magical World of Google

1 Nov

As many of you know, I am a huge Google fangirl (Yes I realize that I have a WordPress blog instead of blogger. That is because I prefer WordPress and I don’t like to choose something based on the name alone…).

With that being said, Google has some pretty awesome things going on. A fellow classmate of mine presented on Google Doc this past week and I thought I would share what I know, along with what I learned! I am narrowing this down to things that will help you do group work and whatnot. So I hope this is beneficial for you!

Google Drive (Formerly Google Docs)

Drive has some great features for students (really anyone who needs to do group work). For instance, if you don’t have Microsoft Word you can use Drive and create a ‘document’. It can be saved in .doc or .rtf  formats (there may be others but I am not positive). You can also create presentations, spreadsheets, forms, and use a “Paint” like program. The best part of all of these things is that they are easily shared and edited by groups. Here is how:

  1. Create Document
  2. Input data
  3. Hit “File” then “Share”
  4. Then choose how you would like to share (Email, social media, etc)
  5. Change how the other users can use this document (e.g. Can they edit or just view?)
  6. Hit “Done”
  7. Now all the other users can view and edit the info!


Google Plus

HANGOUTS! Yes Hangouts! This feature is amazing! Oh yeah, the other stuff is good too but I am pretty sure you have tried playing with the typical G+ stuff like creating circles and posting info. I personally prefer G+ over Facebook but sadly all my friends are “used to using” Facebook and don’t want to make the switch. Which is fine because there are tons of “professionals” using it (Like Librarians and my super geeks!) so it isn’t too bad. I digress.

The hangouts are awesome for several reasons.

  1. It’s free
  2. You can live stream the info through YouTube (Google owns YouTube in case you were curious)
  3. You can use it on your phone (so for you Apple people, it is like Face Time if you have a forward facing camera on your phone)
  4. You can chat face to face with up to 9 group members

Here is an example of how Librarians are using Hangouts. American Libraries has created a Live event with 9 episodes planned over the next year on various topics ranging from “Landing your ideal library job” to “Digging into new databases”. Check it out! I looks quite promising!

But G+ isn’t just about Hangouts, it has other great features. There are too many to cover in one post so I may just slowly add them to the blog throughout the year. Maybe I will even make tutorials for you…who knows. 😉

Google Calendar

I love the Calendar feature. Like all things Google they allow you to share your calendar with selected people. For instance I share a calendar with my husband so that we can both see what the other has planned for the day. This way his dental appointments or my volunteer hours don’t sneak up on each other.

It also allows you to set reminders via email or text for any event. I like to have a reminder sent via text 1 hour before any meeting I have so that even if I forgot about the meeting I can still make it no matter where I am in town. Or I set a 1 week notice for presentations I have to give and really the list can go on.


Do you have any Google features that you love? What are they and how do you use them? I would love to hear about it! Comment away!

Some Helpful Readings on Social Media

28 Oct

My course on Social Media is turning out to be way more informative than I originally thought it would be (not to mention I am actually learning about Research Methods in this course more so than other courses I have taken…including a separate course on Research Methods. But that is neither here nor there).

So I thought I would share some of the readings I have found most helpful so far:

Google Speaks: Secrets of the Worlds Greatest Billionaire Entrepreneurs, Sergey Brin and Larry Page

by Janet Lowe

I learned a lot more about Google than I thought I would ever know! 🙂 However this book did inspire me to try out some new things using Google. I am pretty sure I NEED to work at the Googleplex (Preferably the Dublin, Ireland location! *Ahem* Google I can send you my CV!!!).
I tabbed a lot of the pages to come back to later and bookmarked webpages that I can use later on (like However, because Google is so fluid in their side projects, several of the items mentioned in the book were already removed from Google Labs by the time I read the book (which was published in 2009). Otherwise, it was very interesting to see how our Gracious Overlord was born. 🙂
It is definitely worth a read if you are in the information business. 🙂

This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All

by Marilyn Johnson

I have had this on my “to read” list for a while (if I am completely honest, it is because I love the title and the cover, CYBRARIANS! You really can’t do wrong with a Librarian with a cape and an e-reader flying off to save people…).


First let me say that this is a book written about Librarians by someone who is NOT a Librarian. So seeing the profession from someone else’s viewpoint was refreshing! I might, however be biased, as the author does love us! She also has great quotes like, “Are Librarians obsolete in the Age of Google? All I can say is, are you kidding? Librarians are more important than ever. Google and Yahoo! and Bing and WolframAlpha can help you find answers to your questions, sometimes brilliantly; but if you don’t know how to phrase those questions, no search engine can help provide answers.” (p. 20). I think that is brilliantly phrased! Another favorite quote is, “And Librarians aren’t programmed to say, ‘We have no idea’ The words feel like chalk in their mouth” (p. 39).

I have learned a lot about the Alternative Librarians. And what I mean by that is, the Librarians who have created Libraries in places like Second Life, blogging Librarians, those promoting Radical Reference, those using various Social Medias, and the list can go on!

I am still reading it (I am about 70% through it) but I have learned so much about new ways Librarians are creating or using to “step out of the building” (p. 105) and creating a presence online. And let’s face it, that is where a bulk of our patrons will seek us out!

A great must read!!

The Facebook Effect

by David Kirkpatrick

This book highlights the birth and life of Facebook starting from the halls of Harvard through present (well 2010 at least). There really isn’t much to say about this book. But it is worth reading if you would like to see how something as small as University’s paper facebook handouts can spark a multi million (billion?) dollar company. Check it out!


And lastly, here are links and citations for some of the articles I have read (most of which were assigned class readings) but are nevertheless very interesting and worth a quick read.

Networking through Social Media

18 Oct

In Libraries it is important to network, especially since most of us are looking for our first jobs. As most of you are aware, LinkedIn is a great resource for networking in a professional setting, but there are other sites that offer networking. Another thing to be aware of is your public image online. Here are some of the tricks I have learned and the sites that I have used.


This site allows users to upload resumes as well as create personal profiles that employers can search through. That is LinkedIn at it’s very core, however the last few years have seen several additions to the site. One such addition is discussions which allows you to interact with professionals in the field on a variety of topics. I have joined several of these discussion boards and have it set up to send me emails once a week collating all of the unread posts. I have come across many interesting articles this way.

LinkedIn also added endorsements allowing you to ‘endorse’ friends, family, or coworkers. The endorsements are pre-selected, I think, and you just click on the bubble next to a contact’s name to endorse them. I know I am not explaining it very well, but go and check it out!.

Lastly, they have a newsfeed option that is very similar to Facebook. You can post status updates, comment,  and ‘like’ friends’ posts. I personally don’t use this feature, but I do have this blog as well as my Twitter feed linked to it so that it posts all of my updates from these two sites to my LinkedIn wall (There is an option to link your Facebook account as well, but I like to keep that one site private, but it is an option).


I am fairly new to Klout, but I do find that I like it! It is easy to create an account just register using Facebook or Twitter. Once you have an account just update your profile with all the information you are comfortable with then link all of your social media accounts that you wish to link, sit back and wait for your score.

Your Klout score shows you how influential you are on the internet. (I am at 63! Which isn’t too shabby if I say so myself. I have some celebrity friends on here as well who are paid to be social media nerds and their scores are only about 5-10 points away from me…) It tallies how frequently your Facebook posts are liked and shared, how many times your Tweets are retweeted or favorited, it basically tallies all the social media sites you subscribe to and lets you know how popular you are among your friends. It also shows your friends’ scores (assuming of course that they are on Klout as well). I am not sure exactly how this would get you a job, but there is definite networking potential here somewhere… I’ll find it eventually, probably when I have more free time!


BrandYourself helps you to create your brand image online. This doesn’t sound very important until you think about how employers seek you out and how they try to find information about you. This site gives you the tools and holds your hand while you help bring your positive search results to the first page of Google and subsequently bury the negative or unrelated links.

Currently my score is a D- (this task is proving difficult as I have a very common name, and my fellow Amanda Richards’ are very visible. There is a singer, a Transsexual, and a smattering of other individuals by the same name). I have however brought my BrandYourself page as well as my blog page to the first page of Google results which is very exciting!

When you log on you are greeted with little thought bubbles that guide you. They have made branding yourself practically effortless. They show you secrets like adding your full name to the metadata of all of your social media accounts, as well as advise you to use the same name and photo on all of your accounts for continuity. It is very easy and free to use the basic service. However if you want more options there is a pay-for option as well.

I think that is about it for now. Using these 3 tools together I have noticed my LinkedIn inquiry count jump from 1-2 views a week to 8-10. I haven’t had and job offers yet, but that is probably due to my lack of applying for positions because I have been very busy preparing and taking Comps (Which I just finished 2 days ago!!!) So now I am going to settle back, and work on the copious amounts of reading and writing I have to do for the remainder of the semester.

Let me know if you have tried these services and what you think of them. Do you have other networking or Branding sites that you use? Tell me about them in the comments!

Web 2.0

4 Oct

I have been in Grad school for over a year now, and I keep hearing the term “Web 2.0” in regards to internet technologies. So I wanted to dig a bit deeper and figure out where the term came from and maybe even catch a glimpse of where we are going.

The concept and term Web 2.0 was coined in early 2000, supposedly between Tim O’Reilly and MediaLive International. But what is Web 2.0? In short it is a new way to visualize and use the internet. Prior to the dot com bubble burst in 2001, the internet wasn’t nearly as interactive as it is today. Things were still being figured out and people weren’t quite sure what the “World Wide Web” was capable of offering. Web 1.0 consisted of information that was only available through ‘standard’ means such as email, visiting a website, and similar activities that didn’t allow the user to alter or personalize much of anything (remember how exciting it was when AIM first allowed you to personalize your font and personal icon in the IM software?).

There were so many options becoming available during this time, that people were beginning to wonder if that was all the internet was good for, cheap tricks and mild entertainment. However, there was a shift in thinking that spawned a new era of services. The idea of a static web was replaced with the notion that web users wanted collaboration, and Web 2.0 was born. Sites such as Flickr, Napster, and Wikipedia began to surface where users were able to contribute information, and the internet we know today was shaped.

After using a collaborative internet for so long it is difficult to imagine it being any other way. We now have Facebook and Twitter; ThePirateBay and Wikipedia; and we upload an unbelievable amount of data to the internet daily (see infographic below). Which brings me to my next thought, is there a Web 3.0?

If Web 1.0 was considered a “platform” (O’Reilly, 2005), and Web 2.0 is the interactive web, then logically Web 3.0 should be … Who knows! HowStuffWorks thinks that it will be a glorified personal assistant, stating that you could type in complex statements into the browser and it will give you immediate results (Their example is you type in that you want to see a funny movie and then go out for Mexican food. The browser then sorts through all the possibilities and gives you a result that is best suited for you). Others, such as W3C, have stated that it will be a ‘semantic web’ allowing for further collaboration as well as greater amounts of data being process directly and indirectly by computers.

There isn’t really a good answer as to what Web 3.0 will bring. But it is certain that it will be exciting. So brace yourselves! The internet is about to get more interesting.


26 Sep

So I was required for class to choose a Social Media platform that I use and create a tutorial for my fellow students to learn about it. I am sure you can tell from the title of the post that I chose StumbleUpon. If you are interested, Click Here for the presentation that I uploaded to YouTube.

So for those of you who are interested in how I created the presentation here are a list of the programs I utilized.


I like to use Prezi instead of PowerPoint because I like that the presentation has movement. I think the slides flying in and out of focus are pretty impressive and attention grabbing, especially for students who are used to a lot of movement in their daily lives (ever notice how much the camera angle changes in movies? How fast cartoons move and change?).

This is the first presentation I ever saw given with Prezi and it made me immediately switch. (Here is the presentation without the video)

Then this is the first Prezi presentation I gave for high school students.

I also recommend adding Prezi to your Facebook account as they typically post tips and new features there. Check it out!


I used Screencast-O-Matic to record the audio and the presentation so that I could upload to YouTube, you know, just to make it easy 🙂

I have used Screencast-O-Matic on prior occasions to record tutorials and have always liked the results. Some of the main things I like about this product:

  1. You don’t have to download it. You can use it straight from the site!!
  2. It has the option to have the cursor circled so the viewer can follow it easier!
  3. When you hit record it gives you a visible 3 second countdown until it starts recording.
  4. It is easy to save, or share directly to YouTube or Vimeo. No need to worry about the format or anything, it does it for you!
  5. It is FREE!
  6. It is pretty self-explanatory, aka fool-proof and user-friendly.

So if you need to record things, this is a pretty awesome free option.

Questions from my Classmates

Do you think that this will (or has) become something like Facebook Ads in the sense that advertisements that you see on the web will become more detailed and personalized based on your preferences in StumbleUpon?

According to StumbleUpon they do have paid advertising. The advertisers pay to have their pages added to the Stumble list of sites so that you, as a Stumbler, make it to the paid page instead of getting ads and banners and such. Click Here to read up on it some more.

However, I have been using Stumble since probably 2005 or 2006 and I have to say I very rarely notice when I reach a paid page because the ads are usually so connected with my interest that it isn’t noticed.
And the software does ‘learn’ about you in that you are constantly rating pages (Thumbs up or down) and it ‘learns’ what kinds of things you would like to see.There is a little more info Here.

How can StumbleUpon be used when doing research? Is there a particular way to search for peer-reviewed articles like with Google Scholar?

There isn’t a “Peer Review” Stumble option per se (at least not yet) but I can share how I use it for research.
I use it at the beginning of the research process when I need to learn more about  my topic (or looking for a topic in general). I narrow down the stumble interest to the topic I am interested in, say history, and then stumble the pages in that topic. This allows me to see some of the most interesting stories (from newspapers, blogs, websites, etc.). Then from there I read the articles and look through the Reference lists to gather more info.
To narrow the interests:
  1. On the Stumble Tool bar on the right side there is a search box and a drop down menu
  2. Use the drop down menu to select a previous stumble interest
  3. Or use the search box to input a new topic.

I came across this post in the SU blog, maybe it might help with your research? Also it better describes how to use SU for research. Using StumbleUpon to Get Ideas.

Is StumbleUpon a social bookmarking site, such as Diigo and Delicious, or a search engine? Is it true what I read somewhere that through this SM you can promote the websites that you like but not your own?

StumbleUpon is not necessarily a bookmarking site like Delicious or Diigo  and it is not quite a search engine either,  although you can use it to do both if you wish. The term that I came across that best described SU was a “Discovery tool”. What I take this to mean is that you use the stumble feature to explore new media/topics/ideas and by giving those pages ‘thumbs up’ you narrow down or broaden you interests allowing you to discover new items the more you use the software.

Your homepage will save links to all the sites that you have given a Thumbs Up to so in that sense you are able to use it as a bookmarking site. And because you are able to use the search box on the taskbar to search specific interests I suppose you could call it a search engine as well. But effectively it is both, and it is neither. 🙂
And in my experience, you can promote your own site, or at least you can add it to the list to be stumbled by others.
  1. From your homepage click on Profile.
  2. Then below where your picture is there is blue text that says Your Settings and Add a New Page. Select Add a new page.
  3. Then fill in the URL and the information.
  4. However if it gets enough thumbs down the page is removed from their system.

How specific can you make your search (when searching for pages to add)? Does it give you what you asked for or do you have to “fine tune” your search terms?

Well, it isn’t a search engine like Google or Bing so you won’t get results like that. When you do a “search” it is more along the lines of narrowing interests. For instance, you would wouldn’t search “library school journal articles” but you could narrow the interests to “library school”. Basically you are just browsing topics and getting associated websites instead of getting pages you would look for specifically.

And there isn’t really a way to fine tune the search terms. If you choose to put terms into the search box, there is a predictable text feature that tries to guess what you are typing as you input the terms (kind of like when you start typing into the Google Search Box) so you can choose from that as well.
I would say that StumbleUpon isn’t necessarily used for searching for something specific but should instead be used to search for a broad idea or topic. It was made for entertainment after all and not research. However I like to find a way to use everything for research!

My question is, while StumbleUpon looks like it could be a lot of fun (and possible timesucker) what really sets it apart from other services. i.e., why should I use it? Would you recommend someone replace a site they are using such as Delicious with StumbleUpon, or use it in addition?

StumbleUpon can be a timesucker, but it can also be quite helpful.

For me personally, what sets SU apart from other services is that you don’t really have to know what it is you are trying to accomplish. It is similar to Pinterest in that you have a general idea what you are looking for “Crafts” and the site shows you everything that it has in that area. But unlike Pinterest instead of just getting thumbnails of an image and then trying to link back to the original post (if you can make it that far) you are given the original page so that you don’t have to hunt it down.
I don’t typically use sites like delicious or diigo for personal use (I reserve them for bookmarking school related items so that they show up on my blog widget) but I do use Stumble to ‘bookmark’ stuff for personal use. For instance I like to stumble ‘recipes’ and when I find one I like I give it a thumbs up, then later when I want to find it, I go to my profile and in the “search favorites” search bar I type in Guinness Cupcakes and it brings up the page I had favorited. So basically, I don’t think it should replace your bookmarking sites completely, but it will definitely be useful.

Libraries have found ways to use sites like Facebook and Pinterest to promote products and services, so my question is, how do you think libraries could use StumbleUpon as a marketing tool?

This question had me a little stumped for a bit. Ironically I hadn’t really considered how SU could be used to market the library (although now it seems quite obvious that this should have been my focus). I have always used it as a discovery tool for learning new things and hadn’t thought to market with it. And to be quite honest I am not quite sure how to use it to market your library locally (I will continue looking into this however).

After doing some “research” by stumbling the “Library” interest I have found that several Academic (and a few public) libraries have added their webpage to the SU lists. I have stumbled upon a few special collections pages, law libraries, newspaper articles about collections, special libraries, etc. that all showcase what the library has to offer. It isn’t like marketing to local patrons where you will have people liking you on Facebook and coming in to see what you have, but rather more like advertising that your library exists and showing the Stumbler what you have.
I foresee it being more useful for maybe academic libraries or the genealogical sections of public libraries. However I have seen it used to advertise events at public libraries as well. For instance this page for a local craft session was something I Stumble on, and it is for a Public Library.
So there are marketing uses, and I think that if the Librarian was creative they could get SU to work for them. If anything, you get your website hits up.
You can also inform small business owners of the resource in classes to help them with free marketing. 🙂
Marketing with StumbleUpon:

I was wondering if there is a way to set privacy such as making some likes public and some likes private? You may not care that someone saw you liked a certain book but you may not want to admit to liking that Disney channel star.

As far as I am able to tell, there is currently only 3 privacy settings options.

Settings–> Privacy–>

Show my likes & Interests to…

  1. Only Me
  2. Everyone
  3. Everyone, but hide any adult likes and interests
I have sent an email to the programmers asking if there is a way around this or if there is a way they can adopt a “Thumbs up” and a “Thumbs up but private” option. I will keep you posted on anything I hear back.
Me: Is there a way to publicly like some webpages while privately liking others, like a drop down system similar to what you have for the dislike button?
SU: Hi, You can choose to hide your Likes from other Stumblers by making them all private or making only adult Likes private. Instructions on how to do this are found here.
Me: Yes, I saw that. But I was wondering if there was a way to hide likes that aren’t “adult” private but still have a public profile. For instance, I don’t mind showing that I liked a site about books, clothes, computers, etc. But I may not want to show that I liked a site about pagan religion, Disney Stars, or something that isn’t necessarily ‘adult’ but rather just embarrassing. I hope I explained that better this time. 🙂
SU: Hi, We understand your request, but unfortunately do not have a feature like this for Likes. Our new Lists feature does allow you to keep Lists private and they don’t necessarily have to be adult to be private. There are currently ways to add to Lists without Liking, but as it is in beta, this could change. Apologies for any inconvenience.If you would like to join that conversation on the forum click here.

Social Media Week

23 Sep

Hey everyone, guess what starts tomorrow?! If you guessed Social Media Week then you must have read the title of this post! OK it is still a bit early, give me some slack. 😉

“Social Media Week is one of the world’s most unique global platforms, offering a series of interconnected activities and conversations on emerging trends in social and mobile media” (FAQ). Social Media Week is a biannual conference that teaches users how to do things like simple programming, social engagement, marketing your brand or business, and emotional intelligence and how it affects Social Media usage. The class lists are extensive, and most are very reasonably priced. I saw a lot in the $35-$150 range.

So if you are in any of these areas over the next week it might be a good idea to stop in and register for a class! Maybe next year they can offer more in an online setting. You know, for those of us who can’t travel to awesome places like London or Vancouver. 🙂 Maybe I will try to be in Toronto next time!

Click HERE for the link to Social Media Week!

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