12/5/2012 – Site Updates on EasyBib

Great news this Wednesday for our School Edition Admin users: We’ve added a whole bunch of new features you’ve been asking for.

When you are logged in to your EasyBib account, click on the “School Admin” button. If you don’t have access to School Admin features, please contact your sales representative today.

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From there, you’ll see all of the student accounts linked with your account.

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If you select the “Actions” button next to a specific student account, you’ll see that we’ve added the option to “unlink account”. If you choose this you will no longer see that student’s account in your admin panel. This is helpful for students that have graduated and no longer need to be managed by you.

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From here, if you click on “System Settings” near the top of your screen you will see a slew of new options. Here you can enable or disable features on your students’ EasyBib such as: Source Guides, Autocite, Website URL field, Turn It In, and EasyBib Research. Additionally, you can select the default citation style.

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Bad Citing Habits Are Bad For Business

One of our founders, Neal Taparia, recently wrote an article talking about how information literacy skills are essential to start ups. He argues that our youth are becoming increasingly dependent on search engines, which are inhibiting critical thinking skills essential to discovering start up ideas. The article is titled Students most often cite Wikipedia in their bibliographies. Why that could kill future startups. Let us know your thoughts, and please share the article!

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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Announcing EasyBib’s Chrome Toolbar Extension

Really big news: we’ve added a browser extension for Google Chrome! It’s available for free download in the Chrome Web Store right now. You should go check it out.

It’s really simple to use. Just visit the store and download the extension.

Once it’s installed, you can cite anything on any website you’re browsing. Just click on the red EasyBib book in your toolbar and you’ll see a drop down menu.

If you click “Cite on EasyBib” you’ll get a pop up window that has all of the citation information formatted and filled out for you. From there you can browse to EasyBib or hit the “View Bibliography” button to see all of your citations!

 
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Help Us Help Libraries

It’s October! Know what that means? Well, yeah, pumpkins, apple cider, Halloween, sweaters… that stuff is all well and good. But do you know what else October represents?

NATIONAL INFORMATION LITERACY AWARENESS MONTH!

Aww yeah. Get out the party hats, people. It’s the one month out of the year where we can really hope that information literacy will have its named heard. The month that the President proclaimed we focus on “the need for all Americans to be adept in the skills necessary to effectively navigate the Information Age.” The month where, with just a few strokes of the keyboard, you can donate money to the ALA without losing a penny in your pocket.

Wait, what?

You read that correctly.

I am excited to announce that during the month of October, EasyBib is collecting signatures for a pledge of commitment from librarians to information literacy awareness. For each signature we receive, we will donate $1 to the ALA. All you have to do is:

  1. 1. Head over to TeachInfoLit.org
  2. Follow the Pledge button.
  3. Sign the form.

(The website we’re using to collect signatures might ask you to donate money to them after you sign the pledge, but don’t bother with that. Just close out your browser window and you’ll be all set!)

As of this blog post, we have 395 signatures. Nearly 400 signatures in four days! Let’s keep this up. I am enlisting your help. Share this pledge form with all of your friends in Library Land. Email it. Tweet it. Facebook it. Tumbl (?) it. Get it out there! I want as many signatures as we can muster… but I can’t do it without your advocacy.

TeachInfoLit is a new website I’ve put together to help librarians access useful resources related to information literacy. It includes information about webinars (which I usually post on the main page blog), statistics about information literacy, details on how to access invaluable list servs, and infographics related to librarians. I’m also in the process of planning a Twitter hashtag chat with some amazing librarians to discuss things we’re learning in our day-to-day lives about how students approach research. Stay tuned for more information about that in the coming weeks!

Emily Gover is the in-house librarian for EasyBib. She had a blast presenting at the Library 2.012 Global Conference this afternoon! You can find her on Twitter, @Emily_EasyBib, or posting news you can use at the EasyBib Librarians Facebook page.

NEW! EasyBib Notebook Redesign

Exciting news everyone! We’ve just released a new look for our Notebook tool. It’s sleeker, cleaner, and we think you all are really going to enjoy it. We’re very proud of it 🙂 You can check out a screen shot below:

Our Notebook tool is a premium feature available through MyBib Pro, School Edition, and Library Edition. Interested in a trial or informational webinar for your school? Click here for more information.

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