Tech Tool Review: Social Networking & Collaboration Tools

This month’s set of tools from the DLS Instruction Committee includes three popular sites for collaborating and networking online. In addition to Twitter, a commonly used social media tool, we also provide reviews of Tumblr and Reddit. These are just a few of the many great, freely available social collaboration tools available online. We invite you to share your own favorites in the comments below. Have you used any of these sites in your work with students? Let us know!

Social Networking & Collaboration Tools


Access/Storage: Cloud
Cost: Free
Learning Curve: Easy
Evaluation: This is a social media site and microblogging tools. Users post blogs, pictures, and share with friends. A library could post whatever they might post on Facebook and Twitter. Tumblr is very accessible, open, and very informal. See the tag for Academic Libraries on Tumblr. Here is a review from Library Journal on Tumblr.

Reviewed by: Heather Dalal


Access/Storage: Cloud
Cost: Free
Learning Curve: Medium
Evaluation: Reddit is a website full of forums (called subreddits) with user submitted links or text posts. Users can upvote or downvote posts and comments. The learning curve is “medium” because Reddit can get a bad reputation. Users should create their own accounts, choose subreddits that interest them. Of note: – this is really an underground interlibrary loan. (Maybe we should not advertise that but it’s a good trick to have when you are stuck). Visit the Ask Academic subreddit for academic advice. Find a subreddit related to your professional tasks or goals. For example, is full of tips from professionals in that area and it helps me to apply usability testing in the library. Some colleges have their own subreddits, which is fun to lurk. Reddit does have a very male userbase, with mostly a younger audience 18-24.

Reviewed by: Heather Dalal


Access/Storage: Cloud
Cost: Free
Learning Curve: Easy to Medium
Evaluation: Twitter is a type of social networking site called a microblog, which allows users to share small amounts of content at a time. A Twitter user is limited to 140-character tweets, which can be comprised of text, images, or web links. Twitter also makes use of hashtags, which are easily searchable words or phrases preceded by a # sign, designed to group similar tweets together. Twitter can be used by individual librarians for networking, sharing their research, or following conference tweets via hashtags. Libraries and institutions also Twitter as a way for connecting with their patrons, providing updated information on services and resources, and/or advertising promotions or sharing news. The Library Success Wiki has a long list of libraries and librarians on Twitter, which may be useful to consult for sample content or best practices.

Reviewed by: Melissa Mallon

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Congratulations to Christina Sibley, Winner of the 2015 Routledge Distance Learning Librarianship Conference Sponsorship Award

Congrats to Christina Sibley, winner of the 2015 Routledge Distance Learning Librarianship Conference Sponsorship Award!

The Awards Committee for the Distance Learning Section (DLS) of ACRL is pleased to announce that the 2015 recipient of the Routledge Distance Learning Librarianship Conference Sponsorship award is Christina Sibley, Distance Education Librarian at Arizona Western College.

This award is sponsored by the Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group and honors any individual ACRL member working in the field of or contributing to the success of distance learning librarianship.

Read more about Tina’s accomplishments and the award here:

Attending ALA Annual in San Francisco? Stay tuned for details in the coming months about the Distance Learning Section luncheon on Sunday, June 28th where Tina will be presented with the award.

Please join us in congratulating Tina!

The DLS Awards Committee

Jennifer Hill
Distance Education Librarian/Electronic Resources Manager
Entrepreneurial Library Program
The Sheridan Libraries
Johns Hopkins University
3400 N. Charles Street | Baltimore, MD 21218
410-516-8823 |

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DLS Virtual Discussion Recording Available

The recording of the DLS Discussion Group’s “Defining Distance in the Academic Library” panel discussion is available! Thank you to all of our panelists, Neely Tang, Stefanie Buck, Luann Edwards, Seth Allen, and Priscilla Coulter.

You can access the recording at

If you attended the discussion and didn’t have a chance to complete our evaluation form, or if you view the recording, please take a moment to provide us with feedback at

Best regards,
Jill Hallam-Miller, Discussion Group Chair, 2014-2015

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Tech Tool Review: Web-based Presentation Tools

It seems fitting that our Tech Tool Review post for February comes during the month that features Groundhog Day. While most Americans await Punxsutawney Phil’s prognostication of more or less winter, others may recall fictional weatherman Phil Connors’ imprisonment in a time loop, doomed to repeat the same day over and over. While most of us wish for an early Spring, we don’t want you to be doomed to repeat the same old presentation over and over. With that in mind, the Instruction Committee is highlighting two very useful and powerful web-based tools to create dynamic and engaging presentations as well as a tool for storing and sharing your presentations. Our reviewers looked at Haiku Deck, Prezi, and SlideShare. We also look forward to learning which tools you find most useful and creative. You can post your thoughts in the Comments below as well as linking to projects you might have made with these tools to share with others.

Haiku Deck

Access/Storage: Cloud-based/iPad App/Exportable
Cost: Free (premium images for a fee)
Learning Curve: Easy
Evaluation: Haiku Deck is a slide presentation tool, accessible via the web or iOS app. You must register for a free account, which comes with unlimited storage. Haiku Deck lets you do a keyword search for images from the web to use as slide backgrounds. The image search settings can be adjusted to find Creative Commons images licensed for all use or for commercial use only. The iOS app allows you to find and purchase premium images from Getty Images for $1.99. You can also upload your own images or use a solid color background. Haiku Deck comes with several layout options for the text, as well as different font themes. Graphs/charts and speaker notes can also be included with the slides. Presentations are synced with your account, so you can work on the same presentations from both the web and iOS app versions. Presentations can be set to public, restricted, or private. You can present your slides directly from the Haiku Deck website or iOS app, or you can export them to PowerPoint or Keynote. The Haiku Deck website has an extensive Support section with instructions for use, troubleshooting tips, and educator resources.
Reviewer: Hilary Bussell (with Michael Courtney)


Access/Storage: Cloud-based/iOS App/Desktop Version
Cost: Free (all presentations will be made public)/Fee-based pricing for premium options such as making presentations private, offline editing, and volume purchases.
Learning Curve: Medium-to-Difficult
Evaluation: Prezi is cloud-based presentation software. It uses pan & zoom technology and allows for the importing of PowerPoint slides, images, videos, YouTube videos, PDF’s, etc. There are many familiar features such as text and image manipulation, color customization, URL linking, and slide/path rearranging in the sidebar. Prezi includes templates and layouts or projects can be started from scratch. The layout features and path navigation allow for a unique look where the whole layout can be visible on the screen; panning from frame to frame and zooming into and out of details in each frame is controlled in the sidebar. Judicious use of the path navigation should help avoid motion sickness among the audience. The free account allows editing and includes 100MB of storage and presentations are public. Two higher levels include privacy, more storage, support, and offline editing. There are educational prices available.
Allows for worldwide collaboration.
Reviewer: Jim Kinnie (with Hilary Bussell and Michael Courtney)


Access/Storage: Cloud-based
Cost: Free for basic/Premium levels for a fee
Learning Curve: Easy
Evaluation: SlideShare is a worldwide site for sharing presentations. Besides slides it also supports documents, PDFs, videos, webinars, etc. It can be linked to many of the social networks e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. However, one cannot create in this site, it is only for storing & sharing.
Reviewer: Holger Lenz (with Hilary Bussell and Michael Courtney)

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Join the DLS Discussion Group for a Virtual Panel @ Midwinter

Join the DLS Discussion Group for a Virtual Panel Discussion on Defining Distance in the Academic Library

Event: At the Tipping Point: Defining “Distance” in the Academic Library—Trends, Roles, and Challenges

Please register at:

Date and time: Thursday, February 12, 2015 12:00 pm Eastern

Duration: 1 hour

Distance Librarians work on the front lines of one of the biggest changes taking place in higher education—online learning. As educational institutions develop models for online delivery of courses and curriculum that best serve their students, their libraries must also respond with the appropriate services and support for these students. The result is many different models for how distance librarians work, where they work, and what additional challenges and obstacles they face.

Panelists include Neely Tang, Off-Site Public Services Librarian, Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University; Stefanie Buck, Assistant Professor, Oregon State University Libraries in the Teaching and Engagement Department; Luann Edwards, E-Librarian, Tiffin University; Seth Allen, Online Instruction Librarian, King University; and Priscilla Coulter, Senior Online Librarian, American Public University System.

These librarians bring experience and insights into blended distance librarianship, working outside the library’s traditional organizational structure, and whether librarianship is increasingly serving all its students “at a distance”. Join us for a conversation with these librarians, to learn more about their experiences as they meet the needs of distance learners.

Take part in our discussion on Twitter with #dlsdefinedistancechat

Attendees will need a headset or speakers and an Internet connection to hear the discussion. Prior to accessing the meeting, you will need to have the most up-to-date version of Java downloaded. If attendees have any difficulties accessing the meeting, they can call WebEx’s tech support number at 877-469-3239.

If you have never attended WebEx Event before:

How do I join a meeting demo:

System Requirements:

For more information, please contact Jill Hallam-Miller at or at 717-728-2415.

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