Author Archives: Stephen Francoeur

Posts: 178 (archived below)
Comments: 34

Using Qualtrics to Make Library Tutorials

While researching ways to make library tutorials by scanning the project of the month list for PRIMO (Peer-Reviewed Instructional Materials Online), I found this interesting one from the University of Michigan that uses Qualtrics:

The tutorial itself is a nice model of a lightweight way to help students understand whether an article they’ve found is scholarly.

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Video about Google for Our Classes

Amanda alerted me to this 2013 video we have available to us from Kanopy: Google and the World Brain. Here’s the synopsis of it from Kanopy:

In 1937, the science fiction writer H. G. Wells imagined a “World Brain” containing all of the world’s knowledge, accessible to all people, that would be “so compact in its material form and so gigantic in its scope and possible influence” that it could transcend even nation states and governments. Seventy years later, Google set about realizing Wells’ vision, launching a massive project to scan millions of books from university library collections — and triggering a fierce backlash in the process. When it was discovered that over half of the first ten million books Google scanned were still in copyright, authors from around the world joined together to wage a fierce legal battle against the Internet giant, culminating in a dramatic courtroom showdown in 2011.

In gripping detail, Google & the World Brain tells the fascinating story of this complicated struggle over intellectual property and access to human knowledge, offering crucial insights into broader debates surrounding data-mining and privacy, downloading and copyright, fair use, freedom and surveillance.

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Learn How Your Scholarly Communication Workflows Compare to Your Peers

A pair of researchers at Utrecht University Library have been studying the shifting scholarly communication workflows in a major project they call “Innovations in Scholarly Communication.” They’ve done a number of great presentations that capture the adoption and use of various tools and systems that researchers use for:

  • discovery of sources in the literature
  • reading and annotating the sources they find
  • analyzing data
  • writing
  • publishing scholarly works
  • archiving their scholarly works
  • archiving their data
  • assessing the impact of their research

You can take their survey yourself and then get a customized report back that compares your tool use to others. Here’s mine.

This is a great and easy way to learn about new tools and might be something to share with faculty you work with across campus. If school wants to benchmark practices across campus, you can contact the survey authors to set up a custom URL and survey dataset.

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Tech Sharecase, 22 May 2015

Today was nearly an all-Google discussion.

Google Cardboard

Today we had two fully assembled virtual reality kits to use to try out various Google Cardboard apps. We found the images weren’t always in stereo and the kits themselves a bit flimsy. Some of the apps we tried out:

We also found some libraries that have purchased Google Cardboard headsets for various purposes:

Google Photospheres

The Google Camera app does a nice job of making photospheres:

Google+ Page for the Library

We took a look at the Google+ page for the library and the reviews that visitors have left.

Google Tone

We learned about a new experimental extension for the Google Chrome browser called Google Tone that lets you share a URL in your browser with nearby computers using an audible tone broadcast from your computer’s speaker.

Digital Measures

We talked about the strengths and weaknesses of Digital Measures.

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Tech Sharecase, 17 May 2015

We spent the entire time assembling a cardboard virtual reality kit for Google Cardboard that came with less-than optimal printed instructions. Thankfully, there was a video on YouTube to get us through the many fiddly bits:

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Open Access Journals in Library and Information Science

If you’re looking for an open access journal to publish in, a great place to learn about which ones are out there is to browse the listings in the Directory of Open Access Journals. Here’s a filtered browse I created for “library science’ journals published in the United States (you can tinker my search to make it more global or to add in other related subjects).

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Tech Sharecase, 10 April 2015

Edward Snowden and Government Surveillance

We watched two video clips of Edward Snowden being interviewed by John Oliver (the language and humor may not be for everyone);


After watching Edward Snowden’s take on passwords (actually, he recommends passphrases as more secure), we talked about the Diceware method of generating super secure passphrases.

Google Cardboard

From Arthur, we learned about the Google Cardboard project that allows you use a simple cardboard set of goggles (that you can buy or make yourself) and a smartphone to create a really impressive virtual reality headset. Here’s a video we watched to learn more about it:

Next Meeting of the Tech Sharecase

We might bring in a Google Cardboard headset kit, build it, and try it out (I promised I would buy one of my own for this).

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Annual Review of New Library Buildings and Redesigns

Library Journal‘s current issue offers a series of “Year of Architecture” articles on notable new library buildings and redesigns:

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360 Degree Photos in an Android Phone Camera

I’ve been playing around with the Google Camera app that lets you take immersive, Google Street View-like pictures (Google calls them photo spheres). You make a photo sphere by taking pictures all around you and then letting the app stitch the images together. Sometimes the stitching is pretty good, sometimes there are a lot of weird artifacts. Here are some photo sphere pictures of our library and my office that I took yesterday and today. If you download the pictures, they don’t have that interactive immersive effect that you see when you view them on your phone in the app or when you view them in Google+.

Here’s an video showing you how to take pictures in the photo sphere mode of the Google Camera app:

As you can see from the video, you can upload these to Google Maps so that when someone is viewing a place on the map, they’ll be able to check out any photo spheres that are affiliated with that place (more details here).

I haven’t found a way yet to embed a photo sphere in your own site; it seems like you have to click over to a Google website that hosts the image to get the interactive and immersive experience. If there is a way to embed the images, they’d be fun to add to the library website.


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Tech Sharecase, 18 April 2014

Half a dozen folks showed up to talk about screencapture software, the theme of the day. Here are the tools we focused on:

Maxthon Browser

  • Ryan demo’d the “Snap” function in Maxthon that lets you take screenshots and then annotate them
  • Nice features: free; lots of annotation options; color picker; gives you dimensions of screenshot as you draw rectangle around area you want to capture; can be shared across your Maxthon account if you have the browser set up on other devices (other computers, phones, tablets, etc.)


  • Stephen showed how SnagIt works for capturing screenshots and for uploading them, if desired, to a free account at Although it isn’t free, there is education pricing available that brings to the cost down from the retail.
  • Nice features: easy uploading of annotated screenshots to; captures video as well; extensive annotation options


  • Frank spoke about his use of Greenshot, a free and open source tool for capturing screenshots
  • Nice features: open source! free; lots of annotation options

Windows Snipping Tool

  • Stephen mentioned that all Windows machines running Windows 7 or 8 come with a free screencapture tool from Microsoft. You can find it on your office computers  (go to the Start menu and in the search box, begin typing “snipping” until the program icon appears)
  • Nice features: already installed on all library PCs

Microsoft Office’s “screenshot” command

  • Jessica said that she’s found the “insert a screenshot” command in Word to be really useful. Ryan mentioned that he uses that command in PowerPoint. As it turns out, it is also available in Outlook when you are composing email messages and in Excel, too.
  • Nice features: once you take the screenshot, you have all the drawing and annotation tools built into Microsoft Windows at your fingertips for editing and marking up the screenshot

Uses for Screenshots

  • handouts
  • documentation
  • blog posts
  • tutorials and how-to’s (especially in LibGuides)
  • to embellish support tickets you submit
  • for students you are helping in reference interactions (especially in chat and email)

Best Practices for Screenshots

  • create a system for archiving screenshots on your computer, as it is likely you’ll want to re-use them
  • find a way to host them on the web in a way that allows them to be shared via a unique URL (if you’re not using SnagIt, which comes with online hosting of your images, consider setting up an account at imgur or flickr)

To Do Lists and Notetaking Systems

We started talking about software and websites for managing to-do lists and then about ways to keep notes about literature you’re reading. Here are the things that came up in that conversation:


  • Free website and app for to-do lists (recommended by Jessica)



  • Free software and from Microsoft that rivals Evernote in many respects (recommended by??? if you recall, add a note in the comments to this post)


  • Free desktop wiki software (recommended by Frank)

Ideas for Future Tech Sharecase Meetings

  • Citation management software (Zotero, Mendeley, etc.) and storing notes on what you’ve been reading
  • Managing to-do lists
  • Alt-metrics




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