Apps for Librarian Productivity

Caveat! This post isn’t intended as technical review, but one busy librarian’s experience!

A few days ago, I received another in a growing line of requests for a list of iPad apps that I find most useful in my workaday life. While the list does, of course, go through the necessary evolution that is part of contemporary tech, maybe sharing a current snapshot list here is in order.

First off, I use my iPad for both work and play. I teach online courses from it, develop curriculum on it, file as well as read email, Tweets and assorted blog-posted sites I think warrant return visits. And I move around a lot while I work so the iPad travels in my small backpack and is protected by a well-padded cover that has both a fold out stand and a hand strap to support it should I want to read, write or converse while lounging. In other words, my iPad is a practical extension of my hands as well as my workspace. With all that in mind, here are the apps that keep me productive:

For word processing, I use Pages. This app allows the finished (or finished-for-now) doc to be emailed in Word. (For less polished, private notes I just use the built in Notes app and like how it stores past ones, as well as providing instant sharing options.) Pages also allows for loading pictures and you can insert tables or shapes to further format the document you are creating.

One of the apps I am most excited about is the collaboration-oriented SynchSpace, which allows multiple users to work on a shared whiteboard, or to share and add to documents in the same space. It allows docs to be created with typing , but also with freehand drawing (such as arrows) and emailing as a pdf so that content can’t be altered by the recipient.

Skitch allows me to take screenshots and then annotate them. You can also annotate photos and maps, or draw freehand on a blank. You can choose text colors, fonts, etc., and can share the resulting page. And never a big spender (except for books!), this one has the added allure of still being free!

Flipboard is another one I really love, both for its visual-tactile connection and the time-saving it offers.  It allows you to make your own personalized “magazine” by compiling your Twitter account(s), rss feed(s), and any other social media (such as news feeds from specific sources like Mashable or comic strips) into a source that presents you with the actual content, rather than the link to content. So, instead of seeing that the Guardian has a link to a story on a particular person, I am seeing the opening paragraph of the story itself and with one click am at the full story, able to go back to the Flipboard page with one tap, and also able to email, Tweet, or otherwise share the full story with one more tap.

Keynote is what I use for creating presentations (along the lines of Microsoft’s PowerPoint) and with a portable projector, the iPad can be plugged in to actually provide the presentation to a group!

The iBooks app allows me to save pdf’s I receive via email as “books” on its shelf, so I can much more readily refer back to lengthy ones, like government reports. The fact is, that storing such lengthy pdfs in a bookcase-like setting makes it far more likely that I will refer to the document more attentively. The iBooks library feature also shelves pdfs and books separately, so I can locate those reports much more quickly than when they arrived as spindly 25-page papers that I had to hold up on my professional bookshelf by slotting them between probably unrelated titles.

Since the iPad is a mobile device, not a computer, I don’t store my own documents on it, but rather on my laptop. However, I do create documents on it, and the only way to NOT store the ones I create there is to willfully delete them, so the default is actually storage.

This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list, nor a sales pitch, just a more thorough response than I’ve been able to provide those who ask me for a quick reply about I get my work done efficiently with my iPad. How do you?

7 thoughts on “Apps for Librarian Productivity

  1. Dropbox for sharing files between pc and IPad, Quickoffice for opening and working on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint presentations, Toodledo for a to do list that synchs across all of my devices, Docscanner for taking scans of documents and converting them to PDFs, Tripit for managing travel plans.

  2. I am just wondering why you don’t store your documents on iPad. Goodreader is the best app for that and you can find documents faster from an iPad than from your computer. Of course your backup will be on your computer

    1. Another good app, Valentina! It doesn’t apply to my specific worklife, which is why I don’t use it. But you make a good poit that for those for whom having significant document storage on the iPad, this can be the way to attain that.

  3. Does anyone know of a collaborative file sharing app like synch space, but for sharing word processed documents? For example if you wanted to share documents for ongoing project plans and keep a team up to date?

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