Author Archives: Emily G.

I’m the information literacy specialist and in-house librarian for EasyBib.com. In addition to my work with EasyBib, I’m also a part-time librarian at a public library in Westchester County. I have experience in public, academic and special libraries. You can find me on Twitter @Emily_EasyBib — say hi! :-)

Librarian Profile: Shannon Miller

Shannon Miller

Teacher Librarian and Technology Integrationist
Van Meter Schools, IA

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If you’re looking for a librarian who leverages technology and social media for both students and professional development, look no further than Shannon Miller. If you’ve searched for anything library-related on Twitter, chances are she’s popped up on your feed–with over 20,000 followers and 45,000 tweets, she’s hard to miss. Shannon and I caught up about what led her to librarianship, how she uses online media in the classroom and research struggles her students face.

Shannon graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, where she attended for both her Bachelor’s (Design and Elementary Education) and her Master’s (School Library Studies). While a at UNI, she worked as a student youth librarian for a couple of years and loved being in the library. “I have a love for creativity, art and technology, so school librarianship was a good fit,” Shan said. “I sort of jumped into it all at once.”

How does she encourage her students from using search engines for school research? It’s tough, she says, because that habit is ingrained from a young age — “Even the little ones say, ‘We can just Google that!’” Using Finding Dulcinea and SweetSearch helps, but she still experiences the struggle of directing her students to research. Shannon also has people come to the classroom — both physically and digitally — to teach her kids about research. Last year, I Skyped with Shannon and some of her students about how EasyBib can alleviate their research woes.

I wanted to pick her brain about social networking — in just a few years, Shannon has made a huge name for herself using social media. So, how does she do it? “Um… I don’t sleep a lot?” Shannon said, jokingly. She sang praises about Twitter, her primary form of professional communication online. “All these people are using great new tools, and we have the power to share them with others.”

“Every week, my goal is to find a handful of new tools, and I always write about it–showing how it connects to core curricula, how these tools are relevant, and how they can make a difference with kids. It gives other people ideas on how they can use them in their classroom.” In addition to Twitter, Shan maintains the Van Meter Library Voice, an award-winning blog about her teaching (and learning) experiences as a teacher librarian and technology integrationist.

“I don’t see being a librarian and a technology integrationist as two separate things,” she said, “Eventually, every librarian is going to have to do technology integration, and understand that it’s part of the job.”

Emily Gover is the in-house librarian for EasyBib and ResearchReady. She recently enjoyed the most delicious grilled cheese of her life and is still savoring the experience (yeah, it was that good). You can find her on Twitter, @Emily_EasyBib, or posting news you can use at the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.

Mobile App Review: ShowMe, personalized video tutorials

I presented a webinar with the OCLC last week on Web 2.0 resources and mobile apps that can be incorporated into or improve your library classroom instruction. We covered all sorts of technology, from OPAC apps to screencasting software, and received great feedback from our participants. Thanks to all who attended!

There’s nothing like discovering a new app that you know will bear a permanent location on your favorite device’s screen, am I right? Sometimes it’s as silly as an addictive word game, but discovering something practical, useful and educational is even better. Which is why I want to fill you in on ShowMe.

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Launched in Summer 2011, ShowMe is a free iPad app that has already grown to hundreds of thousands of users. Co-founded by San Kim, a Columbia University graduate and longtime tutor, he developed ShowMe as a way to make education available to all students.

“While I was tutoring, I started to get the feeling that I was part of the problem, not the solution,” he said. “The kids I was tutoring came from privileged backgrounds and got the best education money could buy, while those who needed education the most wasn’t getting access to it. This was one of the catalysts to starting ShowMe.”

With ShowMe, educators and students alike can make visually stimulating videos with the touch of a finger. Teachers can create “how-to” videos about specific topics, and students can creatively demonstrate newly acquired skills or knowledge. “There’s an awesome lesson on the water cycle made by this kid named Alessandro–I think he’s in elementary school,” San said. “For me, this is a great example of what some call ‘learning by teaching.’ One thing I realized from my experience is that teaching something is the best way to learn it, and it’s awesome to see that happening on ShowMe.” For those of you with iPad classrooms or BYOD initiatives at your school, incorporating ShowMe into instructional lessons will make it more appealing, engaging and interactive for your students.

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The app is dead easy to use. Simply download it from the App Store, open up the whiteboard space, and start teaching! Use multiple colors or add photos from your device. Once you’ve figured out how you want to explain your topic using the whiteboard, record it straight from the iPad. Then, share it with people you know, or make it public for the world to see on ShowMe. You can also watch video tutorials created by others on ShowMe.com

ShowMe’s popularity has grown organically since its inception, which speaks volumes. “Teachers have been evangelizing ShowMe from the beginning,” San said. “We don’t spend a ton of money or advertising or marketing, and depend on our community to spread the word about ShowMe. They deserve all the credit.”

Learn more about the ShowMe story and make sure to check out their website.

Emily Gover is the in-house librarian for EasyBib and ResearchReady. You can find her on Twitter, @Emily_EasyBib, or posting news you can use at the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.

Introducing ResearchReady

Over the past year, the EasyBib team has been working diligently on a new product. Given our expertise in educational tools and our history with providing valuable resources to educators, we knew the next product had to be beneficial for both students and educators.

After months of planning, programming and revising, we are excited to announce the release of ResearchReady, a cloud-based online learning platform designed to teach fundamental research and information literacy skills.

Recent data confirms what many librarians, teachers, professors, and administrators already know: students lack the skills to conduct effective scholarly research, teachers focus more on source evaluation, and librarians play a key role in all of it:

  • Students are just as likely to use less-than-authoritative sites (e.g., user-generated websites, cheat sites) as credible sources.1
  • A Pew Internet report found that the “vast majority of…teachers say a top priority in today’s classrooms should be teaching students how to ‘judge the quality of online information.'”2
  • Full-time, certified librarians have a positive influence on student achievement with state assessments.3

The challenges involved with information literacy and research instruction are all too apparent to librarians, teachers and professors. Time constraints and limited budgets can make it difficult to develop a thorough research instruction curriculum. Our engaging, ready-to-use content can also easily be customized by librarians and teachers to meet classroom needs.

That’s where ResearchReady can help.

1. It’s “Future-Proof”

  • Updated and reviewed periodically by experienced librarians, i.e. up-to-date links and resources
  • Based in the cloud, it can be accessed from any device (even tablets)
  • Help students effectively navigate and parse information in a digital world

2. It’s Ready-Made & Convenient

  • The comprehensive curriculum is ready-made and can be used right away
  • Flexible customization allows educators to tailor lessons and assessments
  • Students can work at their own pace from home, freeing up classroom time to nurture research skills

3. It’s Fun & Interactive

  • We’ve developed an engaging storyline to provide context and keep students focused
  • Animated videos make learning educational and entertaining
  • Embedded videos, websites, and audio allow students to apply skills across different media

4. It’s Beneficial for Students

Learn More About ResearchReady!

If you’d like to learn more about how ResearchReady can improve instruction, save time, and bring fundamental research skills to your students, register for a one-on-one webinar:

Register for Webinar

ResearchReady was built by the EasyBib team, but not without your help! We conferred with many librarians and educators throughout the development of ResearchReady and are ecstatic to finally share the product with you.

Emily Gover is the in-house librarian for EasyBib and ResearchReady. She is counting down the days until “Sherlock” season three begins filming. You can find her on Twitter, @Emily_EasyBib, or posting news you can use at the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.

Helping Schools Affected by Hurricane Sandy

Nothing is more rewarding than wrapping up the holidays with a bit of charity – especially for EasyBib!

As you know, Hurricane Sandy devastated communities all over the East Coast and the effects are sure to be felt for years. As a company that’s been supporting students and education for over 10 years, we wanted to step up and give back to schools affected by this tragedy.

On December 11th, EasyBib hosted the event “Rebuilding Our Schools: A Fundraiser for Schools Affected by Hurricane Sandy” and brought New York’s vibrant educational technology community together to help.

EasyBib graphic designer John Yue

Always on our minds were those schools in need. Through the coordination of the American Association of School Administrators, EasyBib was fortunate to be partnered with Long Island’s Long Beach Public Schools and Brooklyn’s PS 279 Herman Schreiber School.

Long Beach Public Schools was one of the hardest-hit districts in New York. Serving approximately 3,800 students grades pre-K to 12, it had to consolidate seven schools into three buildings and deal with mass displacement for all. “Hurricane Sandy had a devastating impact on the Long Beach community, the students, their families and our staff,” shared Long Beach Superintendent David Weiss. “The storm impacted nearly every home in the community through flooding. All the school facilities were damaged.” Despite this, staff and students continue to come to school, uplifting each other in the process.

The Herman Schreiber School is also no stranger to challenges. A horrifying six feet of flooding took out their boilers, transformers, and classrooms. Though back in their building, challenges are part of a daily routine. “We have no sprinkler system so our custodial staff must be on fire watch 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” the school said in a statement. “We have sink holes and crawl spaces that must be repaired. We have books, furniture and the various supplies that we lost that must be replaced.” As before, the staff and students of PS 279 are looking forward and giving their best every day.

Among those in attendance were notables such as CEO Bharani Rajakumar of LearnBop, CEO Payal Kadakia of Classtivity, and many more. As guests partied, they bid on silent auction items generously donated by New York-based businesses such as TastyBite (one of their founders, Hans Taparia, was also on scene).

We’re happy to report that the fundraiser was a complete success! Each institution received a generous donation and continue with their rebuilding. It is our hope that by sharing this with you all, you too will be inspired to give back to those affected by Hurricane Sandy.

Some members of the EasyBib team!

Some members of the EasyBib team!

Becoming a High Tech Super-Librarian

Are you leading the way with technology in your school? Today’s librarians are more important than ever as they set the tone for the way students use technology. According to School Library Journal’s 2012 School Technology Survey, 87% of librarians are in charge of decisions about their school’s learning technology; more than half said assisting with the school’s technology has made them more important in their administrator’s eyes. This is great news for school librarians, and is just another way for them to demonstrate how imperative their role is in the school community. Librarians, with their excellent research skills and technological know-how, are perfect for the role of a technology specialist. But what else can librarians do to keep abreast of new education technology and understand how to use this technology in the classroom?

Tablets in the classroom has soared in popularity over the past few years. Interestingly, the survey found a whopping 16% increase in tablet use over a one year period. Another growing trend in the education sphere–1:1 programs–increased 6%, to 27% from last year’s 21%. These statistics show that librarians are finding ways to incorporate technology into everyday visits to the library and understanding their students’ learning needs.

So how can you keep up in the digital age? Social media provides opportunities to interact with other professionals, but continuing education is an important factor, too. Today’s MLS and continuing education programs are reflecting these changes in their curriculum. For example, Rutgers University MLIS program offers courses that address the changing technologies librarians should embrace. Taught by award-winning faculty, such as Lilia Pavlovsky, who recently received the 2012 Library Journal teaching award, courses are also available on the Web through the fully online MLIS degree program.

Additional Reading
The League of Extraordinary Librarians: SLJ’s Latest Tech Survey Shows that Media Specialists are Leading the Way

Customer Profile: Len Bryan

We love our diverse, intelligent and innovative subscribers! Our ongoing series of customer profiles involves a discussion of teaching methods, observations and insights into student research with librarians across the country. If you’d like to be featured as part of our customer profiles, sign up here.



This awesomely decorated and bedazzled man is Len Bryan, a library media specialist at Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock, TX. Before entering librarianship, Len was an English teacher and athletic coach for about 10 years. Sensing his time in the classroom was coming to an end, he was looking for a new path, but knew he wanted to stay in education.

“I never considered becoming a librarian until one day I received an email from the librarian I worked with at the time,” he said. “It started with, ‘Do you like electronic gadgets? Do you sometimes find yourself compulsively arranging your friends’ coffee table books?’ I did and I did, so I was immediately interested!” Len earned his MLIS from the University of North Texas in 2008. After working at a middle school library for a year, he was hired to open the library at Cedar Ridge High School.

What sparked his interest with a career in education in the first place? Len’s response is humbling and inspiring, so I’m just going to let his story speak for itself:

I have always been interested in education. I grew up dirt poor in rural Louisiana, the second of five children. My single parent mom worked in the elementary school cafeteria, and she always had such admiration for the teachers in her school.

When I reached middle school, I made friends with a boy whose mom was my English teacher. She was the first person to tell me I WAS going to go to college. I listened to her, and I have such a great life now, especially compared to my siblings who did not get an education. I feel it is my duty to share my love of learning and the benefits of getting an education with all of my students, especially those who think it is not possible for them. I did it, and they can too!

Well said!

Len’s responsibilities definitely reflect the changing role of librarians. “Interestingly enough, I do very little of what many people see as ‘typical librarian duties.’ I rarely check books out, I never shush students, and I almost never put books back on the shelves,” he said. More frequently he plans lessons, maintains the school’s website, conducts presearch for teachers and students, negotiates purchases with vendors and troubleshoots equipment. That’s a lot of hats to wear (I’m sure many of you reading this wear the same hats, too).

In addition, I discovered the Cedar Ridge High School Library has its own Facebook page as a way to spread news about school events, displays, library news and research. It has over 260 “likes” and seems quite active! Len built the campus website from scratch using CSS and Microsoft Expressions Web. “The website, just like our entire program, is in a constant state of evolution and improvement. I have been working on it since I was hired back in 2009,” he said.

As for the biggest issue he sees his students face in regard to the research process? “Google. To our students (and many of our teachers), Google is the answer, and they are often not even sure what the question is. Our students do not struggle to find information, they struggle to evaluate their sources and find authoritative, factual, reliable information. They are drinking from the information firehose that Google provides, but they do not realize the water is largely non-potable.” Interestingly enough, efforts to encourage use of scholarly sources has worked “in pockets” in the student population, but oftentimes “kids are easier to convince than many of our teachers.” Yikes!

Many thanks to Len for his flexibility with our interview. We originally had it scheduled smack dab in the middle of Hurricane Sandy (and when power was hard to come back in NYC). Keep up the great work, Len!


Emily Gover is the in-house librarian for EasyBib. She is busting out the elasticated pants for a highly delicious Thanksgiving this year. You can find her on Twitter, @Emily_EasyBib, or posting news you can use at the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.

 
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Libraries: an Information Haven During Dire Times

Hurricane Sandy was far more destructive than many of us in the tri-state area ever expected. Our office is one of many located below 39th Street that has been without power since Monday, and is still in the dark right now. (We apologize if you have been trying to call the office with no luck!) If you were affected by this storm, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and did not suffer much loss.

With millions of people without power and public transit creeping back into service at a snail-like pace, it seems much of the metropolitan NYC area has come to a screeching halt. Our personal and professional lives are so connected, we may not realize how dependent we are on power until we’re without it. For instance, Twitter has been an invaluable resource for me this week–following local news stations for updates and reaching out to friends up and down the coast with just a few key strokes. But when Internet access is gone and cell phone service is limited or non-existent, a lot of people are left in the dark (literally and figuratively).

When your nearby coffee shop is without power, or a local WiFi hot spot is without service, where else can you go? Where do you go if you need to charge your phone, laptop, iPad, or just get online to learn about what the heck is going on?

Your local library.

Ailing from cabin fever, I trekked out to my local library yesterday, where I also work as a part-time reference librarian. The roads were bad, but not impassable. I pulled into its long driveway and was amazed at how busy it was. We serve a relatively small community, and our parking lot can accommodate around 40-50 cars. Every spot was taken. People were parking in “NO PARKING” zones, others were driving back down the lengthy entrance to find a spot on the next road. It was the place to be! Inside, it was busy… but not chaotic. People were using every outlet available to charge their various devices, making (quiet) phone calls, and picking up books. I had never seen it so packed.

As I wrote on Twitter yesterday, during difficult times like these, people really see the value in libraries. Assuming your local library has a backup generator and is without property damage, you will have a place to seek shelter, charge devices on which we are all so dependent (and need), get in contact with loved ones, and find out vital information on recovery efforts. For free. We’ve extended our weekend hours to better accommodate our community, given that many of our patrons will be without power for upwards of 7-10 days.

I’m not the only person on the EasyBib team who has utilized the invaluable resources of a local library during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. They really have been a saving grace during this crazy time as a way for people to access information.


Emily Gover is the in-house librarian for EasyBib. She weathered the storm by reading, knitting and watching more episodes of LOST than she could count. You can find her on Twitter, @Emily_EasyBib, or posting news you can use at the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.

 
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Customer Profile: Holly Frilot

Our second in a series of EasyBib customer profiles, I’d like to share an interview I had with the lovely Holly Frilot. I am discussing teaching methods and insights into student research with librarians across the country. If you’d like to be featured as part of our customer profiles, sign up here.



Holly started out as a classroom language arts teacher in 2002 at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, GA. At that time, technology was picking up momentum within the education field–“I used my classroom as a forum to explore blogs and online communication into a blended learning environment,” she said.

Through her teaching and use of technology in the classroom, Holly got involved with the library at CHHS. “I knew the things I really loved doing involved books and technology, so I ended up getting another degree in instructional technology,” she said. “While I was going back for my degree, I got really involved in the media center and it became a natural fit for me. I wanted to explore educational technology in a broader scope in a way that affects the entire school.” Holly earned her specialist degree in Instructional Technology (with a concentration in School Library Media) from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) in December 2005.

Before interviewing Holly, I took a look at her library’s website and was very impressed. Great design, updated frequently, a GoodReads widget–it’s appealing and easy to explore (which is great for students). “I think that a lot of us are in the habit of looking for things online first, so it’s vitally important for libraries to have a good web presence,” she said. I could not agree more.

“When I started as a librarian we didn’t have a website, and I thought, ‘We really need a place that has all of our resources together in one place.’” With the support of the school administration, Holly built the library’s website using the Weebly platform. “I designed it with students in mind first, then teachers, and then administrators, which is why you see so many photos of students–I want it to be a space where students go.”

One of my favorite parts of our interview was Holly’s anecdote about the student READ posters at CHHS. It’s one of the most creative methods I’ve seen to promote library resources. This is the first one that Holly and her students made. Check it out:


So, what’s the story behind this? “About three years ago, I had a group of kids who were in the library killing some time. They asked me, ‘Miss Frilot, can we work on our breakdancing moves?'” So there they were, a group of students in the corner of the library, breakdancing with a giant bookcase in the background! It look many tries, but the end product seems well worth it. Since then, Holly estimates her and her students create over 100 READ posters every year.

“My goal is that all students see some kind of library promotion everyday, whether they come in the library or not.” With that many posters decorating the high school, it seems like Holly’s got it covered!

Emily Gover is the in-house librarian for EasyBib. Right now she is devouring Neil Gaiman’s M is for Magic with great excitement. What about you? You can find her on Twitter, @Emily_EasyBib, or posting news you can use at the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.

 
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Implementing EasyBib tools as part of the research process

We love to see librarians and educators implementing EasyBib into specific class assignments as a way to manage research. The New Canaan (CT) High School Library has a wealth of resources available on its website. The NCHS Library is chaired by Michelle Luhtala, who has worked in education since 1990. She is presenting right now at the SLJ Summit in Philadelphia, speaking about BYOD and its impact on librarians.

I wanted to share this class assignment that was put together by Luhtala and the NCHS library staff. From the get-go, students are provided with resources to understand plagiarism, paraphrasing and common knowledge (she links to an NPR story as well as her own Google Docs with a succinct definition). If students struggle to differentiate among these while they’re working, these resources are available on the same page as the assignment itself.

EasyBib’s Notebook plays a key role in this assignment, too. Not only are there screenshots of the Notebook showing how quotes, paraphrases and personal comments vary, but a video showing students how to organize their information in the notebook space. Other posts on NCHS’ THE ANNEX blog features other EasyBib tools, like our app!



It’s always exciting to read about how educators successfully implement EasyBib to teach research as a holistic process. We’d love to hear from you about how you teach it to your students. Has it been incorporated into the learning process? Do you teach is as a separate learning tool? Tell us in the comments!

Emily Gover is the in-house librarian for EasyBib. Right now she is devouring Neil Gaiman’s M is for Magic with great excitement. What about you? You can find her on Twitter, @Emily_EasyBib, or posting news you can use at the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.

 
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Election 2012 Resources: an Update

A few weeks ago, I blogged about how the election can aid with information literacy. With all three presidential debates finally finished and a mere 14 days left until Election Day, I wanted to share some new resources that you might find useful.

In my last blog post about the election, I wrote:

The election season is a great opportunity to introduce the importance of evaluation skills to students. Specifically, we can stress the importance of understanding facts, propaganda and bias… and how all three play a huge role in advertising (and sometimes reporting) of the campaigns. Beyond the political sphere, these skills can be utilized in everyday learning and research, whether it’s in school or reading an article a friend shared on Facebook.

Are you or your fellow educators introducing election-related projects or assignments? If so, these resources might be a good place to start:

  • Politifact: This Pulitzer Prize-winning website “examine[s] statements by members of Congress, state legislators, governors, mayors, the president, cabinet secretaries, lobbyists, people who testify before Congress and anyone else who speaks up in American politics.” The statements are rated on a scale of, dare I say, truthiness–true, mostly true, half true, mostly false, false and the much-dreaded Pants On Fire. Read more about Politifact’s truth scale here.
  • Project Vote Smart: This organization “is a non-partisan, nonprofit educational organization funded exclusively through individual contributions and philanthropic foundations.” It contains information on public statements, special interest groups, legislative committees, as well as contact information about dozens of political parties (even the controversial ones).
  • FactCheck.org: A project organized by UPenn’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, FactCheck.org is another resource to research and compare “the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases.” There’s already information about the final debate, so the information is quite timely.
  • C-SPAN: The TV channel most people seemingly skip over provides live streams from its website. This could be great to check out on Election Day itself. In the meantime, check out the video library for on-demand viewing.


We took a look to see what sources our users have been citing lately, too. Here are some of the more popular political resources our users are citing: OpenSecrets.org, Politico, Political Ticker and NBC Politics.

You can also see a sharp increase in politically-themed sources over the past two months. The orange represents citations from August-September, and the blue from September-October. As you can see, there’s been a 66% increase:


Many thanks to the amazing participants of LM_Net for sharing these resources over the past few weeks. Don’t forget to check to my older post with links to Infotopia, iSideWith and ProCon.org.

Emily Gover is the in-house librarian for EasyBib. Right now she is devouring Neil Gaiman’s M is for Magic with great excitement. What about you? You can find her on Twitter, @Emily_EasyBib, or posting news you can use at the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.

 
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