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Webcast Report: Gadgets and Tools and Apps, Oh My!

Posted by Editor on July 22, 2010

Lots of practical advice regarding useful sites and products

Dodie Ownes — Library Journal, 02/15/2010

  • Match the tool with the need
  • Don’t be afraid to play
  • Cool gadgets can be practical
  • Consider multiple uses and applications

School Library Journal blogger and known gadget man Jeffrey Hastings welcomed over 700 webcast attendees to Gadgets and Tools and Apps, Oh My!, the fourth in the Economic Survival series sponsored by Polaris Library Systems and Library Journal.

Leadoff panelist Tina Hertel launched into what she called Whole Lotta Online Tools. As a librarian and help desk analyst at E. W. Fairchild-Martindale Library, Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA), she constantly seeks new and better ways to find information for her students and faculty—and to help them organize it.

Hertel divided her tool belt into several sections, each with dozens of suggestions: searching (ChaCha, twine), reference (instructables, WolframAlpha), words (howjsay.com, OneLook), information power (diigo, bit.ly) and random cool tools (meebo, picnik).

Noting that it can be a challenge to keep up with new tools, Hertel said several sites help keep her informed, such as KillerStartups and Webware. Hertel lists more than 250 tools available.

On to the gadgets
Karla Marstellar, executive director at Palmyra Public Library, PA, and “geek by nature” presented a half dozen of her favorite gadgets. From the very practical Monster Cable PowerBar or tiny Altec Orbit USB speaker to the futuristic Bluetooth laser virtual keyboard (“if you have shiny fingernail polish, that can be an issue”), Marstellar gave a brief review for each gadget, offering practical examples.

Her final plug for Seal Shield 100% waterproof washable keyboards and mice elicited interest from attendees who lit up the chat board with oohs and aahs. Marstellar ended her presentation with a list of sites she uses that keep her gadget savvy, including Gizmodo and ThinkGeek.

Time for the audience
Moderator Hastings led the Q&A, challenging Hertel and Marstellar to think on their geek feet and respond to questions ranging from “How do I get around pop-ups that keep my kids from using social 2.0 web tools?” to the voltage level of the Monster cable.

Attendees also chimed in with their own resource suggestions: Florida State University’s Digital Media Center, Woot and Froobi. One school librarian commented that “I’ve found a bunch of your recommended sites are blocked by our Internet filter. But thank you for presenting them, because now I have more ammunition for getting them UNblocked!”

The Gadgets and Tools and Apps, Oh My! webcast, held on February 9, is now available for on-demand viewing and also from the Library Journal webcast archives.

via Webcast Report: Gadgets and Tools and Apps, Oh My!.

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