Thing 6: Curation Tools

Many years ago when I started my studies to become a librarian, the Internet was still relatively new. I remember the challenges I saw finding material with subject directories. I remember the challenges I had creating and maintaining web pages of hyperlinks that would seemingly never be as ‘up to date’ and ‘content volumous’ as any readily available search engine. I also remember the frustration of trying to compare different search engines to find which one worked better for me. There had to be a better way to tackle this monster. Tools have emerged to allow us to easily organize and share bookmarks, curate digital content, and aggregate online information.

Earlier I described my experience with using Delicious (see Thing 3: Social Bookmarking). I needed a tool to act as a database of hyperlinks that would automatically put this same information onto instructional web pages so that I could easily recycle my content onto different pages as needed without having to edit everything whenever something new emerged. This worked fine until it was relaunched in 2011 as a reinvented product in a beta format. At that time I began to explore Diigo only to discover at that time that it was blocked by the school web filter (so was Delicious until I requested it be unblocked). The Delicious product has since settled down to become more reliable for the way that I use it.

Both Delicious and Diigo allow users to save, annotate, and tag bookmarks so that these can easily be found, clustered, and shared with others. Both allow you to follow and be followed by others. Both also offer plugins for web browsers, apps for mobile devices, and support for API or javascript allowing sophisticated users other avenues to interact with their bookmarks. Diigo does offer services for education (K-12 and higher ed) as well as specific tools to promote literacy and higher order thinking skills. I could easily see Middle School and High School teachers using Diigo as a research tool to collect and organize their resources, and as a literacy/plagiarism-prevention tool so that students could annotate these resources.

I joined Pinterest shortly after it started only to be overwhelmed by what it wanted to do. This was put onto the back burner until I had time to figure out how I could use it. I did revisit it as part of this online course. Pinterest allows users to ‘pin’ images (or movies) from one’s computer (or ‘repin’ someone else’s images) onto a virtual bulletin board. Numerous board can be created for these boards and each pin includes a URL and a description. It also appears that you can follow others and that others can follow you. While not as overwhelming as it was before, I am looking around for other school libraries (and libraries in general) to follow so that I can see how they use it for instructional purposes. I could see something like Pinterest being used to create virtual bulletin board displays to celebrate or promote different events. I do need to check if it is accessible on the school network in which case I would use it as part of student instruction, otherwise it could be used as an outreach vehicle to share information to the community.

I discovered Flipboard about a year and a half ago when I purchased my iPad. All the online news, magazines, and blogs, all organized in an inviting visual format that flips open when the app is launched (nice animation by the way) with access to older material from these sites. Preloaded with many resources and users can add additional resources as desired. This app is available for iOS and Android devices. While other information aggregators are available, this is the coolest one I have encountered so far. When I wrote the proposal for an iPad lab at school, this was one of the apps I requested to promote student literacy.

Clearly as information professionals and educators, we now have tools available ‘other than search engines’ to make online information readily available in ways that our students (the consumers) can easily use it. I also find it neat that many of these curation tools will also allow both the content creators and well as the content consumers to share this information through other forms of social media. It is indeed a good time to be a librarian and a teacher.