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The popular misconception is that librarians only help patrons find books or information about a topic, or hand out fines. However, that is far from the truth. As you already know, your days are spent doing a lot more than book buying and checking in resources. You are also responsible for compiling annual reports, creating community groups, hosting book clubs, and providing summer reading lists by reading levels for kids. To help you in your biblio quest here are some of the most useful apps for librarians.
Virtual Bookshelves for Librarians
A librarian’s job includes finding books to add to library shelves. This process is multi-fold. Librarians must keep up with the latest bestsellers, while also scouring through classics and indies to find the hottest gems likely to be requested by readers. There are several apps that provide the function of virtual bookshelf, reader reviews, and recommendations—all in one. These apps can help you find hidden picks, and determine books like those beloved by your readers so you can expand their literary horizons. You can also use these apps to set up virtual reading groups and bookclubs.
ProQuest is now available via the Bookwire app on iTunes and Google Play. Using this free app you can find, evaluate, and order books for your library.
- YALSA’s Teen Book Finder
The American Library Association has developed the YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) Teen Book Finder app. Each year thousands of librarians read young adult books in search of the YALSA books of the year. In order to find those titles, the Teen Book Finder app lists more than 4,000 award winning YA books. The app is linked to the WorldCat Search catalog to make finding these titles super simple when purchasing them for your library.
Provided by Amazon, Goodreads is a free social cataloging site for book readers and authors and is available as an app for Google Play and iTunes. Set up an account, keep track of the books you have recently added to your library shelves, or check out reviews for books you are considering purchasing for your patrons. You can also set up lists of books, such as best for kids, classics, etc., that you can share with your patrons. Goodreads also helps you find books like those you already have in mind, thanks to recommendations and similar title picks. Note that the books listed on Goodreads can be added by anyone, so there can sometimes be lacking or incorrect cataloging info on the site.
Similar to Goodreads, LibraryThing, one word, goes a step further in social cataloging by letting you catalog other types of media. As a librarian you are likely to lend everything from music CDs to DVDs. With LibraryThing you can catalog books, movies, and music. You also have the social networking capabilities of Goodreads. One big difference is that you are limited to how much you can catalog using the LT app, available on Android and iTunes. After 200 pieces of media you have to sign up for a paid subscription. The expense may be worth it if you are using LT to catalog your actual library, because of the media listed here comes directly from the catalogs of the Library of Congress and other actual libraries.
Reading Level Apps
School systems that require readers to stick to a particular reading level depend on librarians for assistance. When a child or parent visits the library and needs books at a certain reading level, librarians can turn to several trusty apps. It is also useful to create book displays and reading lists based on reading levels. So how do you find out which books are at which reading level, without searching for every book one by one? With an app, of course!
- Level It Books
The Level It Books is an app available on iTunes and Google Play. This system provides reading levels according to DRA, Grade Level Equivalent (GLE), Guided Reading (GR), and Lexile Measure. The app lists nearly half a million books, and includes ISBN barcode searching.
- Literacy Leveler
The Literacy Leveler app by Fikes Farm is available on iTunes and Android, and while it costs a few bucks, it’s a more basic version of Level It Books. However, that can be a good thing as it is more user-friendly as you can search by level, title, or author to find books.
- Scholastic Book Wizard
If you are a fan of ordering Scholastic books for your library, then you’ll appreciate the Book Wizard app. Available on iTunes and Android, this app gives you access to Scholastic published books according to GLE, GR, DRA and Lexile Measure reading levels. You can create lists based on subjects, grades, authors, or reading levels that can be used in your library.
E-Reading on the Run
As a librarian, whether you want to divulge e-books or not you need to be aware of the latest tech that your patrons are using. E-readers and audiobooks on mobile devices also open up the doors of reading opportunities for your library patrons. For example, if you have a patron who is requesting a particular book but your library either doesn’t carry it or doesn’t have a copy available, you can direct the patron to one of the following e-reader or audiobook apps.
The OverDrive app is the quintessential app for borrowing e-books and audiobooks from local libraries. Most cities and local library systems use the OverDrive app with few exceptions among those that have their own proprietary system. If your library doesn’t lend e-books yet, consider making OverDrive your go-to software. Through OverDrive patrons have access to all lending materials that you purchase for your patrons exclusively.
The Kindle app is one of the most popular e-reader apps. It is available for Android and iTunes stores, and it works on Kindle e-readers by Amazon, as well as Apple products thanks to the iTunes app.
The Nook app is for the Barnes and Noble e-reader of the same name. However, you can download the Nook app via iTunes and Android, in case you have a Nook account and want to read your books across multiple systems.
Amazon now owns Audible, which is an audiobook service with listening apps on iTunes, Android, Windows Phone, Kindle, and Fire devices. You can subscribe or purchase audiobooks outright. With a subscription you receive monthly credits worth at least one audiobook each month. You keep the audiobook even if you end your subscription, but you will need to have the Audible app on your device in order to listen to it. Additionally, the audiobooks never expire once you’ve purchased them.
- Audio Books
The Audio Books app by Audiobooks is available on Android and iTunes. This service streams audiobooks, and it has more than 100,000 titles available, 7,000 of which are free to download thanks to public domain access, also available with Audible titles. For the bestsellers and modern picks, you must subscribe and pay to get credits for books each month. The price is on target with Audible, and according to users the only main difference between the two are the titles that are available.
A lesser known e-book and audiobook app is Scribd, which is a monthly subscription service that allows you access to a limited number of books each month. You can also read documents, journal articles, and magazines. Scribd is available on iTunes, Google Play, Android, and Kindle Fire.
- Free Books
The Free Books app is just that, an app that grants you access to more than 50,000 ebooks and audiobooks without having to pay for the app, books, or the service. The app is available on iTunes, Windows Phone, and Google Play. Keep in mind these books are all those in the public domain, aka the classics. Here’s a librarian’s secret—rather than using up your shelf space by housing these classics in your stacks, direct your patrons to the Free Books app to find these favorite reads when they want to check them out.
Librarian Reference and Resource Tools
If your library has a state library that provides learning resources and reference sources, such as OverDrive for ebook lending or ProQuest, then you are already abreast of what these services provide. But did you know that most of these types of library services also come in an app form? Check out some of the most useful librarian reference apps and consider upgrading your library system to include those you don’t already have.
- Access My Library
One way to access Gale reference resources, such as biographies or academic journals, is with Access My Library. This app is provided by Gale, and it is available on iTunes and Google Play. Recommend this app to patrons, especially college students and journalists, who are in constant need of Gale reference materials. In addition to providing journal articles, directories, databases, and ebooks, you can also locate all of the libraries near to you that have Gale reference resources available.
If you need access to dictionaries, check out the Dictionary. app by Farlex. It is on iTunes and Android, and is completely free for users. More than 2 million words are defined, and you can also search for words when you are offline.
Here is a group of apps that is librarian-centric. EBSCO Information Services includes dozens of apps for libraries and patrons including:
- Academic Search Authority
- Ask-a-Librarian Instant Messenger
- Business Thesaurus Authority
- Curriculum Builder
- Customizable Interlibrary Loan Form
- ERIC Authority
- Japan News
Contact an EBSCO rep to find out which apps are best suited for your library’s needs.
LexisNexis is a leading academic research app where you can direct patrons to source credible information including legal advice and world news. Now the LexisNexis apps provide this source via mobile devices. The LexisNexis family of apps include:
- Lexis Advance on iTunes for researching information
- CourtLink on iTunes and Android for tracking legal news and information
- LexisNexis Law School Q&A Series on iTunes and Android helps law students study for law school curriculum
As a librarian you are a beacon for research, and genealogy is one of the most sought after types of information. To help your patrons use the Ancestry app available on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon. Using this Ancestry.com resource patrons can find genealogical information, post family news, and upload photos for free. This is ideal for patrons who are away from their desktop computer when doing genealogical research.
29-31. US Census Bureau
Did you know the US Census Bureau has apps for research purposes? That’s right, you can download the following apps for free on iTunes and Google Play:
- Census PoP Quiz for US history and American geography students
- America’s Economy app featuring data based on 19 key economic indicators
- dwellr features the top 25 cities in the US for individuals based on personal and socio-economic factors
- Mango Languages
Your library may already offer Mango Languages as part of your free patron databases and services. Either way, the Mango Languages app is a great addition to your resources. Available on iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon, the Mango apps lets patrons practice their new language skills using a mobile device. Whether they are learning Pashto, Pirate, Romanian, or Russian, the app capabilities let you practice your verbal skills whenever you have a spare moment.
- Book Club
If you are trying to organize a library book club, then check out Book Movement’s Book Club app on iTunes. Use the app to set up a meeting time and track RSVPs to club gatherings. You can also find discussion questions for books. The app also lets your book club members review and rate books. This helps the book club leader help determine how well certain books are being received, while also improving book selection for future months.