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5 apps to innovate school libraries


Convenient and creative apps to virtualize your school library program.

Apps can bring technology, functionality, and creativity into your school library program. Since apps are a part of our everyday lives, especially those of students, they have the power to completely change the way students and teachers think about learning—especially in the library.

In “Virtual Library Program Development,” Michelle Luhtala, library department chair, New Canaan High School, CT, reviewed an A to Z list of 50 apps to virtualize your school library program.

1. For libraries looking to take control of their social media strategies, Luhtala recommends using Buffer.

Buffer is a way to merge different social media accounts for easier and faster posting. Luhtala uses Buffer to link many different social media accounts including the school’s Twitter and Facebook, and the library’s Facebook, Instagram, and Google Plus.

The app can be used to type one message that will post to all accounts, or to select the accounts you want to post to. Luhtala said “this has been a game changer” in helping her get back into using social media for New Canaan High School after being somewhat inactive.

2. If your library is undertaking a project, then Google Forms, Sheets, or other G Suite tools may be useful.

As New Canaan High School phases out the use of automatic bibliography generators, they are using G Suite tools to offer students assistance as they learn to generate their own bibliographies.

Feedback Form.

First, students submit their bibliographies via a Google Form. Once a librarian reviews it, they use a Google Sheet populated with formulas to offer comments.

3. They are also using the app, QR Generator, to input QR Codes into a works cited page.

These link to breakdowns of each citation, which provide further explanations for students if they need it.

(Next page: Library apps 4-5)

Does your library have a makerspace, or are you looking to get started with one?

4. Luhtala uses issuu, which creates online flipbooks out of PDFs, to help organize New Canaan High School library’s makerspace materials.

While the makerspace has a photo album that students can flip through to help them generate ideas for their next projects, it’s hard for multiple students to access it at once.

Maker Album.

Luhtala created a digital photo album that can be accessed online so students can plan their projects from anywhere. She also uses school library’s Instagram account to showcase student makerspace projects.

5. For teachers looking for opportunities to expand their classroom or library outreach, MackinVIA offers free solutions both teachers and students can use through their four key areas: Groups, Categories, Advanced Search, and Backpack.

MackinVIA can be used to generate assignments for the class, interact online with the class and view their assignments, favorite digital content and add it to the digital backpack, highlight and take notes within the online books which can be saved to Google Drive or OneDrive, and much more.

Enhance learning and add functionality to your library with Luhtala’s entire A to Z list of apps in the edWebinar, “Virtual Library Program Development.”

About the Presenter

Michelle Luhtala is the Library Department Chair at New Canaan High School in Connecticut and was one of five school librarians named as a “Mover and Shaker” by Library Journal in 2015. She is the winner of the 2011 “I Love My Librarian” Award and the Library Association’s 2010 Outstanding Librarian Award. The New Canaan High School Library won AASL’s National School Library Program of the year in 2010. Follow her on Twitter @mluhtala.

Join the Community

Emerging Tech is a free professional learning community where school librarians can explore all the ways to integrate technology and 21st century learning into school library programs.

This broadcast was hosted by edWeb.net and sponsored by Sponsored by Mackin Educational Resources.

The recording of the edWebinar can be viewed by anyone here.

[Editor’s note: This piece is original content produced by edWeb.net.View more edWeb.net events here.]

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