Archive forModules

Module 8: Online Apps

Online Applications

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module you will:

  • Understand the purpose of online applications
  • Know how to use various online applications
  • Have developed ideas about the usefulness of online applications in the library

What are online applications?

The term “online application” refers to a variety of web-based applications. These applications allow you to complete many tasks that used to require specialized software to complete, such as creating Word documents, presentations, spreadsheets, editing images, and much more! Many of these applications don’t require a download, only a one time registration with the site. Furthermore, most of the services are free with additional benefits available for purchase.

Why are online applications useful?

The main advantage to using an online productivity application over their software counterparts is the sharing feature. This allows you to assign other people as editors of your document so that you can collaboratively edit them in real-time. Many of these applications have a chat feature so that you can discuss changes with your collaborators before making them. You can also control who is allowed to view your files by either keeping them private, selecting specific viewers, or making them public.

Another advantage to using online applications is that they eliminate compatibility issues as you move from different computers because all your work is stored online. However, many of these applications also have an offline access feature so that you can update your files without being connected to the internet.

What’s the difference? Choosing the right online application(s)

  • Google Docs: After signing in with your Google account, you can create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and drawings, similar to Microsoft Office applications. You can download your documents and open those using Microsoft Office (vice-versa), though there are some formatting issues with this feature. If you have a Blogger account, you can even post your files to your blog. Here is a video of some of Google Doc’s features.
  • Zoho: Currently has the largest variety of online applications. Zoho has email, word processor, spreadsheets, presentations, organizer, web conferencing, and much more! Every service has a free version, but additional benefits are available with payment. Every application is available in multiple languages. Furthermore, you don’t have to create a Zoho account to use their services. If you have a Google, Google Aps, Yahoo!, or Facebook account, you can sign in using those instead.
  • ThinkFree: Another online productivity suite, with services similar to Google Docs. In fact, you can sign-in to ThinkFree using your Google account instead of creating an account on their site. However, registering has fewer restrictions. It also offers a file convertor to PDF, text, or image formats.
  • Basecamp: A web-based project management application. You can create and manage to-do lists, workflows, project milestones, and much more.
  • meebo: An online instant messenger that works with MSN, Yahoo!, Google Talk, and AIM accounts.
  • Snipshot: An online image editor that allows you to resize, crop, enhance, and rotate your images.
  • LibraryThing: An application for cataloguing your books online. You can even see what other people are reading.
  • LastFM: This one is just for fun. You can create your own personalized radio station and listen to your favourite music online.

How do I use these applications?

For the most part, if you have experience with the software counterparts, understanding how to use these applications should be straightforward. However, each of the above sites provides how-to guides, FAQs, and forums that will help you learn how to use their unique features.

How can I use online applications in the library?

Online productivity suites, such as Google Docs, are great for collaborative projects much like Wikis are. The advantage of using online applications over Wikis is the additional features. You can create presentations for department meetings, catalogue your books, manage projects, and much more! The real-time collaboration feature makes group projects much more efficient.

Some of the above online applications are already in use at the library, most notably meebo for our “Ask-A-Librarian” service.


Activity 1

Many online applications let you sign in using a Google account. In this activity, you will set up a Google account if you don’t already have one. Doing so will grant you access to many of Google’s features, including Blogger as discussed in Module 1.

  • Go to Google accounts ( and click on “Create an account now”
  • Enter your email address, which will be used to sign-in. It does not have to be a Gmail address.
  • Fill out the rest of the form as instructed. Now your account is ready for use.

Activity 2

Watch activity 2 here

Create a document on Google Docs and write some of your thoughts on this module.

  • Go to Google Docs ( and sign in with your Google account
  • From the “Create new” dropdown menu, select Document
  • In the text editor, write some of your thoughts on this module. Format the text to your liking
  • Click “Save Now” in the top right corner
  • (Optional) Rename the document by going to File > Rename…
  • From the “Share” dropdown menu, select “Publish as web page…”
  • Click “Publish document”
  • Copy the URL that is given and post it as a blog post below
  • (Optional) Publish your document to your Blogger by clicking “Post to blog”

If you want to receive a certificate at the end of the Web 2.0 training, please send the URL (link) to your Google Doc to libweb20@library…To create a screen shot either use the program “Snag it” or you can use your keyboard command ALT + Print Screen to capture the image and paste it into the email.


This post is based on The Learning 2.0@Mac program.

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Module 7: Podcasts & Vidcasts

Podcasts and Vidcasts

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module you will:

  • Know what podcasts are
  • Understand why podcasts are useful
  • Know where to find and how to subscribe to podcasts

What are podcasts?

The term “podcast” is a combination of the words “pod” (derived from iPod) and “broadcast”. It refers to audio or video that is streamed over the Internet, but they can also be downloaded in various audio formats. The main difference between podcasts and regular audio or video streaming, such as YouTube, is that podcasts are usually delivered through RSS (see Module 2) using podcast software.

Why are podcasts useful?

Podcasts are portable, meaning you can listen to them on your computer or add them to your personal audio player and listen to them on the go. Despite what the name may suggest, an iPod or iTunes is not required to listen to podcasts.

Furthermore, since podcasts are delivered through RSS feeds, you don’t have to go back to the original site to see if new podcasts are available. Instead, you can subscribe to podcasts that you are interested in and you will be notified through your RSS aggregator when new ones are available. This is the main advantage of podcasts over regular audio or video streaming.

How do I subscribe to podcasts?

Subscribing to podcasts is very easy. All you need is the podcast feed URL, which most podcast directories provide, and a RSS aggregator, such as Bloglines or Google Reader (which you may have set up during Module 2). You will be notified automatically once new podcasts are available.

How can I use podcasts in the Library?

Podcasts are a great way to provide tutorials to assist new users of the library’s resources. For example, the University Map Library’s podcast page has tutorials on how to use GIS software and other geographical tools. See “Other Resources” for an in-depth guide on how to create your own podcast.

Library staff can also stay abreast of current trends in libraries using podcasts like EDUCAUSE, or The Library 2.0 Gang There are many options available.

Podcast Directories

There are several podcast directories and podcast search tools on the Internet.  These are some of the most popular ones which cover a broad spectrum of topics:

  • The “ultimate podcast collection” that covers a wide variety of topics. It has podcasts from featured publishers, such as BBC and CBS news. You can choose to download the podcasts, add them to iTunes, or share them on various social sites. You can even submit your own podcasts.
  • A great directory for podcasts on a wide variety of topics, similar to The layout is clean and simple. This site also provides podcast software for download. You can even submit your own podcasts by creating an account on their site.
  • iTunes Podcasts: Apple’s guide on how to listen to podcasts using iTunes.


Activity 1

If you haven’t already done so, set up an account on Bloglines or Google Reader (Google Ready appears to be more seamless for podcasts). For instructions on how to do this, see Activity 1 in Module 2.

Activity 2

Watch activity 2 here

In this activity you will be subscribing to a podcast using your RSS aggregator (see module 2) and posting to your blog stating which podcast(s) you subscribed to.

  • Sign up for an account with
  • Explore to find a podcast that interests you
    • There are a variety of ways to find a podcast from this site.  Down the right hand side of the page you can browse the podcast collection.  You can also select from the popular choices or  search for a podcast if you already have one in mind. This will provide a list of related podcasts.
  • Click on the Podcast title to obtain a description of the podcast.
  • Click on the “show advanced” button under the podcast image.
  • Select the icon for the RSS aggregator you use and follow the instructions to complete the feed.*

*note: you can also do this manually by copying the URL address of the feed and adding it to your RSS feed aggregator.

  • Click on “Subscribe” (or “Get Podcast” if you used the search option) to obtain the podcast feed URL. Copy the URL and subscribe to it using your RSS feed aggregator. For instructions on how to subscribe to RSS feeds, review Activity 2 in Module 2.

Activity 3

Search one or more of the podcasts directories and see if you can find a library-related podcast. Create a blog post about your discoveries.

If you want to receive a certificate at the end of the Web 2.0 training, please send a screen shot of your podcast in your feed reader to libweb20@library…To create a screen shot either use the program “Snag it” or you can use your keyboard command ALT + Print Screen to capture the image and paste it into the email.

Other Resources


Written and recorded by Rebecca Hutchinson, Kristen Jensen, Rishan Munasinghe and Laura Howell

This post is based on PLCMC’s Learning 2.0 program.

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Module 6: Images & Pictures

Web 2.0 Training Module: Flickr

Learning Objectives:

  • To understand what Flickr is and the basic features available
  • To consider the potential use of Flickr in a library setting
  • To learn how to search for and identify publicly available images
  • To know where to sign-up for a Flickr account

What is Flickr?

  • Flickr is an online photo sharing and management application that allowing you to organize photos or videos and make them more accessible to others (
  • Members are part of the Flickr online community and must therefore abide by the community guidelines (
  • Flickr is currently owned by Yahoo.

Why use Flickr?

  • It’s great for people with an interest in photography or those who want a web based method for storing, organizing, discussing, and sharing their photos and video. This includes libraries!  Photos are always accessible as long as you have an internet connection.
  • How can Flickr help you or your organization? Check out six key features available from Flickr (upload, edit, organize, share, maps, make stuff, keep in touch) at and
  • Take the “Magical Feature Tour”.
  • There’s a libraries and librarians group. Here you’ll find thousands of library related photos from around the world. There’s even a discussion board and RSS feed. (see Module II for info on RSS)
  • Flickr has a partnership with the Library of Congress called “The Commons”, which includes thousands of photographs from public domain collections.
  • Flickr provides photo solutions for bloggers via the “blog this” feature and makes it simple for account holders to quickly and easily post photos to their blog.
  • Flickr has a favourites menu, similar to that found in a web browser, so that you can bookmark the photos you like and find them again easily.

Flickr and Tagging

  • Tags are like keywords that facilitate searching for and organizing photos. Flickr uses the concept of tagging to create associations between ideas or concepts and the photos shared on the site.
  • Tagging creates a “folksonomy” of terms.  This is similar to a taxonomy without all the corresponding rules and hierarchical relationships.
  • In addition to tagging, Flickr members can also interact by posting comments to a photo.

How to Get Started With Flickr

  • Anyone can explore photos and tags made public by Flickr members or found within the Commons.
  • If you’re interested in becoming a member and setting up a free Flickr account go to If you already have a Yahoo ID creating a Flickr account is very quick. Individuals that do not have a Yahoo ID must first sign-up for one. Once you have an account, you have the option of setting up a profile in Flickr. Note that Flickr also offers paid accounts that provide access to more features and have fewer restrictions.
  • Flickr members can determine the level of privacy they would like for their photos. Users can choose to limit photo access to friends, family, or a group. Alternately, photos can be placed in the public domain and shared with the world. Members can set restrictions on who is able to tag or comment on their photos and determine the level of copyright they would like for their material.


Are you ready to take your images to a whole new level?  By completing these activities you will be able to upload images into flickr,  share images using your blog and explore some of the awesome features, like searching images by groups, in flickr.

Activity 1:

In this exercise you will create a flickr account

Watch activity 1 now

Activity 2:

In this exercise you will upload an image or picture to flickr

Watch activity 2 now

  • Upload and tag a photo of your choice using

Activity 3:

In this exercise you will post your image or picture to your blog

Watch activity 3 now

  • Add the picture to a post in your blog using Flickr’s “blog this” tool:
    • You’ll first need to register your blog in “Your account” under the tab “Extending Flickr.”
    • Then click on the image you would like to blog and click on the “blog this” icon just above the image.
    • Follow the next few steps in Flickr and violà your photo!
  • Comment on your Flickr experience in your blog.

If you want to receive a certificate at the end of the Web 2.0 training, please send the URL of your blog post to libweb20@library

Activity 4: (optional)

  • Explore Flickr at
  • Browse the “Popular” tags
  • Check out the Libraries and Librarians photo group to see how other libraries are using Flickr at Search for photos of Dana Porter Library.
  • Search Flickr for a topic of interest and see what you find. See what related tags have been given to interesting images from this search. Create a link to your favourite image in a post to your blog.

When Using Flickr Remember:

  • When posting photos in a publicly accessible place, such as Flickr, it’s advisable to get the necessary permissions before posting any photos containing identifiable images of other people.
  • Never upload pictures that weren’t taken by you, unless you have the photographer’s consent.
  • Check the copyright status given to a photo. If the photo is assigned a creative commons license, give credit as per the license guidelines when you include photos taken by someone else in a blog or other web based medium.

Additional Resources

Flickr Tutorials @

Get Flickr-tastic @ , Andrea Mercado.

How To Get the Most Out of Flickr@

Educause: 7 Things you should know about Flickr @


Written and recorded by Rebecca Hutchinson, Kristen Jensen, Rishan Munasinghe and Laura Howell

Based on Learning 2.0 from the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) @ and Learning 2.0 @Mac.

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Module 5: Browser Tools

Add-ons and Plug-ins

Learning objectives

At the end of this module, you will:

  • understand what a browser add-ons and plug-ins are
  • know where to find browser add-ons and plug-ins
  • know when you might want to use browser add-ons and plug-ins
  • learn to install a plug-in within Mozilla FireFox.

What are Add-ons and Plug-ins?

  • Add-ons and plug-ins are small programs that add functionality to your browser, allow you to customize your web browsing experience, and interact with online content. Add-ons are also known as “Add-ins” and are often used interchangeably with the term “Plug-ins”.

How are add-ons and Plug-ins useful to me?

  • They can improve your browsing experience by allowing you to customize your browser to meet your needs, interests, and preferences.
  • There are many different types of add-on and plug-in tools available that may appeal to you.
  • They make your browser do more for you!
  • They can save you time.

Some Points to Remember About Add-ons and Plug-ins:

  • Too many add-ons can slow down the browser
  • Ensure downloads are from a secure and reputable source
  • In FireFox, add-ons are called “extensions” once downloaded
  • Some add-ons are freely available and other cost $5-10 to install

Where do I find Add-ons?


  • Add-ons can be accessed from your browser menu via Tools>Add-ons>. From here you can view recommended add-ons, search all add-ons, or browse all add-ons. Add-ons can also be uninstalled from the same menu.
  • All add-ons for FireFox can also be found @

Interet Explorer (IE):

  • IE add-ons are linked from within the browser at Tools>Manage Add-ons>Find More Add-ons. This takes you directly to the IE add-ons gallery, which is also available @

LibX: A Special Plug-in for Libraries

LibX is a library specific browser plug-in available under the Mozilla Public License. According to its webpage LibX makes “common library related tasks fast (, FAQs).”

Does the University of Waterloo Libraries have a LibX Edition?

  • Yes, an edition has been built for the University of Waterloo.

What does it do?

  • LibX facilitates access to your library’s resources including the catalogue and electronic resources available through the open URL resolver, from within your browser. This means that it saves you navigation time and enables you to search for and access resources more quickly.
  • LibX provides embedded cues when visiting web pages such as Amazon or Google. These cues inform you if the library has access to resources found on the webpage.
  • View a summary of the key features of LibX at

Examples of Other Add-ons:

For Firefox


There are so many add-ons to choose from but here are a few ideas:

  • Amazon Universal Wish List: Add an item from any website to your Amazon wish list.
  • Glue: Get suggestions from your browser on the books, movies, or music that you might like, as you surf around the web.
  • ImTranslator: An online translator that covers 1640 different language combinations.
  • AdBlock Plus: Get rid of those pesky web ads and replace them with the images you choose.

For Explorer

There are many categories available to explore, such as dictionaries and reference, travel, weather, finance, etc. Here are a few samples from different categories:

  • The Weather Channel Accelerator: Get local weather from your browser instantly.
  • PDF download for Internet Explorer: Convert web pages into PDFs.
  • Search suggestions from Google, Yahoo, or Amazon.


Activity 1

Watch it done here

In this activity you will be installing LibX into the Firefox browser.

  • If you don’t already have Firefox on your system, download it from Mozilla @ .  You don’t need to have administrator rights to download and install Firefox or its add-ons.
  • Install LibX – watch video of activity 1 – how to install Lib X

To install LibX:

Using LibX

There are some screencasts available online that may help you with using LibX.  Caution: they may be out of date. LibX homepage > screenshots/screencasts. Index page:

Activity 2

Installing other (fun) browser tools

  • Browse the wide variety of Mozilla FireFox add-ons.  Try adding one to FireFox.  Let us know what you think!
  • Check out the add-ons available from Internet Explorer. You won’t be able to install these       as you do need administrator rights.
  • (Optional) Post to the library blog outlining the browser tools you found useful, any you          didn’t like, and your thoughts on LibX.

Activity 3

Send a screenshot of your chosen add-in (it could be LibX or some other add-in) to libweb20@library  if you want to receive a certificate at the end of the Web 2.0 training.

Post a comment to the Web 2.0 blog on what you thought of this activity.

Additional Resources:

10 must have FireFox Extensions for Business (Computer World):

Top 10 FireFox Extensions to avoid (Computer World):

20 Must Have FireFox Extensions (Computer World):


Written and recorded by Kristen Jensen, Rishan Munasinghe and Laura Howell.

Based on Learning 2.0 from McMaster Libraries Emerging Technologies Group:

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Module 4: Wikis

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module, you will:

  • understand the basic features of a wiki
  • know how to create your own wiki and how to add content to an existing wiki
  • understand when and why you would want to use a wiki
  • understand when a wiki is a more suitable tool to use than any other Web 2.0 application
  • have developed ideas about the usefulness of wikis in a library

What is a Wiki?

A wiki is a type of website that allows users to easily add, remove, and otherwise collaboratively edit and change content that can be quickly published to the web. This ease of interaction and use makes a wiki an effective tool for collaborative authoring. You do not need to know HTML to edit a wiki (although many allow for the use of HTML editing) and all you need to edit a wiki is an internet connection and a web browser.

There are numerous kinds of “wiki software” or “wiki engines”; these can vary widely in look and functionality. Features common to most wiki software include: Recent activity display, discussion or comment features, and varying degrees of access / edit permissions for users, WYSIWYG [What You See Is What You Get] editing and edit history.

Wiki software can be downloaded and installed on a private network; you can even get your own personal desktop wiki! (Such as MoinMoin Desktop), but most wiki users go to a Wiki farm. A Wiki Farm is a server or a collection of servers that provides wiki hosting. Wiki farms allow users to quickly sign-up and establish their own wiki with no software downloads either for free or for a nominal change (free wikis are supported by revenue from advertising).

What’s the difference? Choosing the right wiki

TWiki, WetPaint, Stikipad, PHPWiki, SeedWiki, PBWiki, Wikispaces, MoinMoin, Netcipia… with all these different wikis to choose from you might have a difficult time deciding which wiki is most suited to your project. A tool you might find useful for comparing the features of various wikis is Wikimatrix. The Wikimatrix website has several useful features for comparing any number of more than 80 wiki engines listed.

So what are some of the features common to Wikis & what are some differences?

  • Wikis allow you to assign different access permissions to different users. The site creator (Administrator) can assign other Administrators or Moderators to the Wiki.
  • Many wikis are tiered with both free accounts and ‘premium memberships’ that often have added features such as a higher page limits or greater storage capacity.
  • Pages edit history & Revert. Wikis allow users to view the history of specific pages. Wikis typically have a revert feature that allows those with sufficient access permissions to rollback a page to an earlier edit.
  • WYSIWYG. Wikis have “What You See Is What You Get” editors that make it easy for anyone to contribute!

Why Wikis?

Why do I care about wikis?
A wiki is the best tool to use when individuals want to collaborate on a project or document. Wikis are also very easy to use. Anyone who can create a Word document, can quickly and easily create, contribute to, or edit a wiki.

How can I use wikis in the library?
There are numerous examples of ways in which wikis have been used in libraries to foster collaborative writing projects.

  • Wetpaint has been used to create a quick reference tool named “Digital Reference Shelf” which allows reference staff to add links to online reference sources that can be quickly accessed at the desk.
  • PBWiki has been used assist in the development process of the new catalogue (Endeca Information Access Platform).

What wikis are most applicable to my work?
Of particular interest to those in the library field is the comprehensive list of library-related wikis at LISWiki. Especially useful for library staff is Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki . Another great wiki is the Blogging Libraries Wiki, which provides a comprehensive list of library blogs.

What wikis may be of interest to information desk staff?
Our own At the Info Desk Wiki is filled with useful information. For reviews of Reference Sources, see Butler University’s Butler WikiRef

What wikis may be of interest to students?
WikiIndex is a wiki that identifies and describes wikis on a variety of topics. Students looking for leisure reading suggestions can consult IRead Wiki, and those looking for readalike authors can go to Readalike Wiki. And, of course, students should consult the most famous wiki of them all — Wikipedia — for background information on topics.

Accessibility in a Web 2.0 World

If you decide to create a library wiki, don’t forget to think about accessibility issues, for example, including alternative text for images. See Accessibility Resources at the end of this module for tips on making your wiki accessible.

How do I add content to a wiki or create my own wiki?:

Click here for a three-minute video on how to use a wiki.


Activity 1
The first activity is to add a list of your favourite books to a wiki. A test wiki called “My Favourite Books” has already been created in PBWiki. You can access it by clicking on the link:

Anyone can read the wiki I created, but only individuals who log in can edit it. To log in, type for the email address, and library2 for the password. (The “log in” link is located in the top right corner of the wiki.)

Add a page, listing a few of your favourite books. How? Create a new page in the wiki by clicking on the “create a page” link (top right area of the page). Name your page, click “create page,” and start typing (or copy and paste anything from your computer). Click save. Yes, it is that easy!

To add your page name to the table of contents, just click “edit” on the front page, and click on the name of your page (look over to the right for it). Click save. Voila!

Try changing the font size and colour.

Activity 2
This time try creating your own wiki from scratch. Go to and follow the online instructions. As the name PBWiki indicates, the creation of a wiki is as easy as peanut butter. In the comments section, let me what you think about wikis.

Activity 3 (totally optional for those who would like to work with a second type of wiki)
Try using another no-cost wiki engine — Wetpaint. Click on the test wiki: To add a page with your favourite movies, click on the link “add page” (it’s at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar). Name your page; click “easy edit” and add your movies. (A pop-up box appears that allows you to add an edit note if you wish. I chose “skip edit note.”) Try adding a picture by clicking on the picture icon.

If you wish to receive a certificate for completing the Web 2.0 training, please send the a screen shot of the favourite book page you created in activity 1 to libweb20@library…

Accessibility Resources

WCAG 2.0 Checklist

Information on the coming Accesibility standards for Ontario

Other Resources (optional):

Video (4 minutes)
LeFever, L. (2007). Wikis in Plain English.

7 things you should know about wikis (2005, July). Educause.

Chawner, B., & Lewis, P.H. (2006). Wiki wiki webs? New ways to communicate in a web environment. Information Technology and Libraries, 25(1), 33-43.

Clyde, L. (2005). Wikis. Teacher Librarian, 32(4), 54–56.

Farkas, M. G. (2005). Using wikis to create online communities. Web Junction.

Singel, R. (2006). Veni, vidi, wiki. Wired News.


This post is based on The Learning 2.0@Mac program.

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Module 3: Social bookmarking

Learning Objectives

At the end of this module, you will:

  • understand the basic features of social bookmarking
  • know how to create your own social bookmarking account
  • know how to upload bookmarks from your computer to the social bookmarking site
  • understand some of the uses of social bookmarking
  • understand the social aspect of social bookmarking
  • have developed ideas about the usefulness of social bookmarking in the library and for your own personal use

What is a Social Bookmarking?

Social bookmarking is a web based version of your own “favorites” or “bookmarks” section of your web browser. Instead of being computer based, these are web based. This allows you access to your bookmarks from anywhere with an internet connection and browser. A major advantage is that you do not have to remember which computer you saved your bookmarks. They are all always available (from any computer in the library and also at home or while travelling).

Another aspect of social bookmarking is the manner in which you may organize your bookmarks. You can assign “Tags” to your bookmarks. This allows you to sort your bookmarks and also share them with others using the same social bookmarking software. For example, if you are interested in library instruction, you could do a search within del.ic.ious. and get a listing of web sites that have been given the tags of “library instruction”. For this section we will look at individuals that have tagged the University of Waterloo Library Homepage.

What’s the difference? Choosing the right social bookmarking site

Del.ic.ious is one of the more popular sites and the one that we will be using for this section. A larger (though not comprehensive list) follows. If you are interested, try out several of the social bookmarking sites.

  • – popular social bookmarking site. User tagged (search without quote marks).
  • Connotea – “Free online reference management for all researchers, clinicians and scientists”. User tagged .
  • CiteULike – “a free online source to organise your academic papers”. User tagged.
  • google – Keyworded.
  • dogpile – compiles searches from many search engines. Keyworded.
  • zuula – compiles searches from many search engines. Keyworded.
  • kartoo – outputs sites visually as a series of “maps”. Keyworded with interelationship of terms shown.

How can I use social bookmarking in the library?

Social bookmarking will allow you to have all of your selected bookmarks travel with you. It will also allow you to share bookmarks with students and co-workers easily and efficiently. You no longer need to e-mail links, you can just let people discover ones in your profile.


Activity #1 Create your account on del.ic.ious (video of activity 1)

Register at . (Pay attention to the password requirements)

Activity #2 install the Firefox extension or toolbar buttons (video of activity 2)

Install the Firefox extension, or the buttons on your toolbar.

If you are using Internet Explorer in the library then you may need to call the Help Desk to install the buttons for you. However, Firefox should allow you to install without administrative rights.

Activity #3 import/add a bookmark and tag it (video of activity 3)

Select one of the bookmarks on your computer (or library home page ) using one of these options

  • Right clicking on the link to the page and selecting “tag this link”
  • Going to the page and then going to the top of your browser and selecting the “” menu and choosing “tag this page”
  • Going to the page and then choosing the “post to” button at the top of the page
  • Going to your account at and selecting “post” and pasting in the URL

Add a description. Often cutting and pasting a paragraph from the page saved is useful.

Add tag(s) and save.

Next time you are on a webpage you would like to save for later or find again, save it to

Activity #4 add this page as a bookmark

If you want to receive a certificate at the end of the Web 2.0 training, please send a screen shot of your Delicious page to libweb20@library… To create a screen shot either use the program “Snag it” or you can use your keyboard command ALT + Print Screen to capture the image.

1. Check out the items saved under other accounts
2. Check out who else has saved the University of Waterloo library homepage and click on their profiles to see what else they have saved.

Other resources:

Social Bookmarking in Plain English


This post is based on The Learning 2.0@Mac program.

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Module 2: RSS

Learning objectives

  • Understand what RSS is
  • Know what an RSS aggregator is
  • Know how to find RSS feeds
  • Understand how RSS feeds can be used in the library

Last week we looked at blogs, and since most of you have already set up your own blogs, you might have encountered the term “RSS”. Or perhaps you’ve seen one of these icons during your web travels:

RSS feed icons

Well, this week is all about demystifying RSS! Read on for an introduction to the technology, some ideas on how you can use it, a few links to RSS search engines and directories, an explanation of this week’s activities, and finally some optional readings for those who would like to explore a little further!

What is RSS?
RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication” and is an XML file format for delivering content on the web. You will also find RSS referred to as “web feeds” or just “feeds”. A good way to understand RSS feeds is to think about them as magazine subscriptions: rather than having to frequently visit the newsstand to check for a new issue of your favourite magazine, you can just subscribe to it and sit back & wait for the new issues to come to you. RSS works the same way. If your favourite website publishes an RSS feed, you don’t have to keep visiting it to find fresh content; you can just subscribe to the RSS feed and wait for that fresh content to come to you. And, unlike magazine subscriptions, RSS is free!

If you’re feeling brave and would like to have a look at what an RSS file looks like, click here. Yes, that looks like a bunch of scary code, but the good news is, you shouldn’t ever have to look at that code (unless you want to!), because that’s what RSS aggregators do.

What are RSS aggregators?
RSS aggregators are applications that read RSS feeds. An aggregator will take an RSS feed (like the one linked above) and convert all that coding into something that is readable, with a defined title, formatting, and hypertext links that you can click on. The other important feature of an aggregator is the built-in update function that checks the feeds you’ve subscribed to for fresh, new content. If new content is found, your aggregator delivers that to you.

Example of an aggregator

Example of an aggregator

Aggregators come in a few different flavours:

  • Desktop: these are software applications that required downloading and installation on a computer.
  • Web-based: online aggregators live on the web and require users to set up a username and password to access them. To access a web-based aggregator, you go to the site, login, and read your feeds online. The advantage of web-based aggregators is that you can access them from multiple computers (home, work, service desks, etc.). Two popular web-based aggregators are Bloglines and Google Reader.
  • Browser-based: the latest versions of many browsers (like Firefox and Internet Explorer 7) include the ability to subscribe to and read RSS feeds right in the browser.

So, how does it work, exactly?
If a website publishes a feed, it is usually indicated on the site in at least one of the following ways:

  • a hyperlinked orange icon (three examples are included at the beginning of this post);
  • a link called “RSS” or “XML” or “Subscribe” (or some variation thereof);

Most often, when you want to subscribe to a feed, you have to right-click the link to the feed (which, again, can be indicated by either an orange icon or a text link), select “Copy Link Location” or “Copy Shortcut”, and add the link to your aggregator. Specific instructions for subscribing to feeds in Bloglines and Google Reader are included below under Activity #2.

Finding Feeds

  • Directories & Search Engines: yes, there are search engines and subject directories devoted JUST to RSS feeds! Check out RSS Compendium for a list of sites. These types of sites allow you to do a keyword search and bring up results with easy-to-grab links to RSS feeds that you can subscribe to. Also, most web-based aggregators include an RSS search engine, so when you set up an account in Bloglines/Google Reader (this week’s Activity #1), you can use either of their search engines to find feeds.
  • Serendipity: chances are, you probably won’t remember how you found most of the feeds that end up in your aggregator because most of your subscriptions will probably result from your general web meanderings! When you’re on a web site and you’re wondering if they publish an RSS feed, remember to look for the orange RSS icons or for a link labeled “RSS”, “XML” or “Subscribe”.

How can I use RSS feeds in the library?

You can use your knowledge of RSS feeds to:

  • Teach students & faculty how to use the RSS feed functionality in Primo and other databases to receive updates on their research topics
  • Subscribe to blogs related to your work or your interests, for example the academic library blogs from Module 1
  • Subscribe to news feeds such as the Daily Bulletin


Are you ready to try things out? Work through the activities below to set up your own account with either Bloglines or Google Reader and get started on adding some RSS feeds! But before beginning, view this short video to see what’s ahead!

#1 The first activity for the week is to set up an account on either Bloglines or Google Reader.

Both aggregators offer similar features and functionality and the choice between the two usually comes down to personal preference. If you need some help deciding between the two, take a look at this article or contact your the Web 2.0 training team for guidance. Or, if you feel like exploring, set up accounts on both sites, play around in them (once you’ve added some feeds, which is Activity #2 for this week), get a feel for the interfaces, and decide for yourself!

#2 Once you’ve set yourself up with an aggregator (Activity #1), you’re going to need some feeds to subscribe to!

Start by subscribing to the feed for this blog. The feed for this blog is located at To subscribe to it, right-click the feed URL, select “Copy Link Location” or “Copy Shortcut”, open up your aggregator, and subscribe to the feed using one of these methods:

  • If you’re using Bloglines: login to your account, click “Add” at the top-left of the screen, paste the feed URL into the “Blog or Feed URL” box, and click “Subscribe”. The next screen will give you some options on where you’d like to save the feed (you can organize your feeds in folders), once you’ve made your choices, click “Subscribe” at the bottom of the page.
  • If you’re using Google Reader: login to your account, click “Add subscription” at the top-left of the page, paste the feed URL into the input box that appears, and click “Add”.
  • If you know the URLs for any of your colleagues’ blogs subscribe to their feeds! To find their feed addresses, you will have to visit the blog and look for one of those RSS icons or an RSS/Subscribe link.

    Still looking for more feeds to subscribe to? Check out one or two of the RSS search engines or directories described above to find feeds of interest to you & subscribe to a few of those feeds.
    Make sure to visit your aggregator at least a couple of times this week to check for new content in the feeds you’ve subscribed to! (you’ll be surprised at how addictive RSS feed-reading can become!) And don’t forget to blog about your experiences using these tools!

    If you want to receive a certificate at the end of the Web 2.0 training, please send a screen shot of your feed reader to libweb20@library… To create a screen shot either use the program “Snag it” or you can use your keyboard command ALT + Print Screen to capture the image.

    Further Readings (optional)

    RSS for Non-Techie Librarians, Steven M. Cohen
    Blogging and RSS: The “What’s It” and “How To” of Powerful New Web Tools for Educators, Will Richardson
    Keeping Up by Using RSS, Roy Tennant
    RSS in Plain English, Common Craft Video
    7 Things You Should Know About RSS, Educause

    This post is based on The Learning 2.0@Mac program.

    Comments (9)

    Module 1: Blogs

    Learning objectives

    At the end of this module you will:

    • Understand what a blog is
    • Know how to create a blog and post to the blog
    • Understand why people/institutions have blogs
    • Have ideas on what blogs you may want to read

    What is a blog?
    A weblog (or “blog”) is a format for publishing content on the web. Blogs are, quite simply, web-based logs of information that have the following features in common:

    • content that is organized in reverse chronological order, with the most recent entry appearing at the top of the Web page;
    • a date and timestamp to indicate when the content was published to the blog;
    • archives that are automatically generated by the blog software

    For examples of a blog see:
    Digital reference
    Library of Congress blog

    The blog format began with the simple “What’s New” pages that littered the Web in the early days of web publishing. The blog format was formalized when web/tech savvy individuals began writing their own programs to make it easier and quicker to publish these sorts of pages, where it was important that current content appeared at the top of the page. Once these programmers made this software freely available online, the now widely-used blog format was born.

    Blogging Software

    There are 2 types of blogging software tools out there: hosted and installed.

    Hosted blogs allow users to sign up for an account and a free blog. The company providing the software usually takes care of everything for you, and all you have to do is choose a name for your blog and write! To introduce you to blogging in a quick and easy way we will be using a hosted service, Blogger, for this module.

    Installed blogging services provide you with software that you can download to your Web server. Installed software tends to be more powerful and gives you more control over the functionality and look & feel of your blog. The University of Waterloo Library has installed WordPress which is the software used to design the site for this training program.

    Why blogs?

    Why should I care about blogs?
    Millions of people are blogging and more are reading blogs. Blogs are a quick and easy way to publish to the web without knowing HTML programming or waiting on a webmaster to post information for you. They are simple to create and maintain. As an added bonus your readers can subscribe to your blog so that you don’t even need to alert people when you add new content! (you will learn about subscribing to blogs in Module 2)

    Blogs are ideal for current awareness, news items and commentary. They can be fairly informal and can handle text, hyperlinks, photos, videos and other multimedia files.

    How can I use blogs in the library?

    Library staff can use blogs to promote library events, services and resources, to invite comments from library users and to exchange ideas with each other or with library users. Blogs can provide a forum for communicating project updates. Of course, you can also create personal blogs on any subject imaginable!

    Library staff can read blogs written by others to keep up to date with trends in the library world.

    Examples of academic library blogs:
    Georgia State University Library
    SciTech Library News
    Gov Docs on the Bayou
    Lakehead University – Orillia Campus Library

    Examples of blogs that may be of interest to information desk staff:
    Association of College & Research Libraries blog
    The Kept-Up Academic Librarian
    Confessions of a Science Librarian
    Information Literacy Weblog

    Accessibility in a Web 2.0 World

    If you decide to create a library blog, don’t forget to think about accessibility issues, for example, including alternative text for images. See Accessibility Resources at the end of this module for tips on making your blog accessible.


    Ready to start blogging? Good, because Activity 1 is to set up your own blog and add your first post!

    Activity 1: (video of activity 1)

    In this exercise you will be using the website Blogger to create your own blog.

      • Use Blogger to set up your own blog. It is a free, hosted blogging tool where you can set up an account and start a blog.
      Click the “create your own blog now” link.
      • Your blog address will be
      • If you already have a blog and would like to use it to track your progress during this programme, feel free to do so!
      • How you choose to identify yourself on your blog is your choice. You can blog under a screen name, anonymously, or as yourself.
      • Once you’ve set up your blog, go ahead and add your first post!

    The content of your first post can be anything you’d like; one idea would be to simply introduce yourself!

    If you want to receive a certificate at the end of the Web 2.0 training, please send the URL for your blog to libweb20@library…

    Activity 2 (optional)

    Post a comment to the Web 2.0 blog on what you thought of this activity.

    Accessibility Resources

    8 tips for accessible blogging

    How to make your blog accessible to blind readers

    WCAG 2.0 Checklist

    Information on the coming Accesibility standards for Ontario

    Other resources (optional):

    List of library-related blogs

    Blogs in Plain English video

    Anatomy of a Blog
    Blog, Wikipedia article
    • The Ethical Blogger – Karen Schneider
    Why and How to Use Blogs to Promote Your Library’s Services – Darlene Fichter
    7 Things you should know about blogs

    This post is based on The Learning 2.0@Mac program.

    Comments (29)