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For this Thing, I tried out Wattpad and Free Books.

Wattpad:
I’m going to sound like a huge snob here, but the fact that this is mostly user-created content is a personal turnoff for me. I did create an account, and I downloaded a few stories, and I will read them. Reading a book that has gone through traditional publishing avenues is of course no guarantee of “quality” or promise that it will be “good,” but I do know that I have a completed product–stories can be posted here before they are finished. But on the other hand, having an online community where writers can post their work-in-progress and get feedback form readers and critiques from other writers is invaluable. So depending on what you want out of this, it might very well work.

On the technical side of things, I didn’t like the interface very much; it’s not very browseable; there are carousels with thumbnails in each section, but there are only a few titles displayed, and getting to the search option is quite clunky. The classification of books into categories is also somewhat idiosyncratic. Final verdict: It *looks* good, but doesn’t quite perform as desired.

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Free Books:
This is much more up my alley, and I will probably keep it. I like how things are organized, the categories make sense to me, I can choose how results are displayed, and it’s much easier to find things. In short, it makes my OCD happy.

While I certainly can get public domain books through Amazon or Apple, they can be annoyingly difficult to track down; this has them already arranged nicely for me, ready to go. Yes, there are occasional ads, but they aren’t very intrusive. And since I need more books like I need a hole in my head, I will of course download a bunch of books. That I will read. Someday. Final verdict: for my reading needs, this is the clear winner.

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Both the library system where I work and the library system that I am a resident of have mobile apps. I do use them on occasion, but truthfully I find them to be buggy enough that I usually just go directly to the websites to do my library business. I do use the apps if I suddenly need to renew something while I’m out on the town…who am I kidding, this has never happened.

I understand why libraries are using third-party apps for their mobile presence, but much like I wish libraries were able to design and maintain their own catalogs and websites, I realize it just isn’t possible given staff and budget limitations. Sigh.

My very favorite thing about the ELM site is that it is a responsive design. (I wish all websites were responsive design.) Many of the databases in ELM I have access to already, but there are a few gems that I forget are there, until someone needs something exceptionally specific for a school project. CAMIO is probably my favorite, because I like that it’s a visual database. Several other databases do have visuals in them, but you have to know how to find them; CAMIO is all visuals, all the time.

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Duck-Shaped Vessel

I am on Instagram, although I don’t post photos very often. I had been on it, and then deleted my account for…reasons? I’m sure I had reasons, although I no longer remember them. And then I created a new account so I could look at pictures of dogs and shoes and food, because why not. (I’m sure I look at other things too, but that seems to be the bulk of my feed: greyhounds, Fluevogs, and fancy food.)

But an app that I like for sharing photos, that I don’t even remember how I found originally, is Flipagram. Here is one I made of the Travail Soft Opening. It is, if I remember correctly, a free app, but you can pay a small fee one time to have a watermark on your photos. I’m sure there are other in-app purchases, most likely related to music or video length, but that’s the only one I’ve succumbed to so far. And it’s so cool! The library of songs available is very good, and features music you’d actually want to use. And you can then share your pictures of food! To music! And post them on Twitter! #hipstertrifecta

I have a stylus now, and I used it for this Thing.

In Color Splurge, it was much easier to use my stylus than my finger to add color back in to a picture; fingertips are not precision instruments. And even though my cheap little stylus is by no means the top of the line, it gave me more precision and control than my fat, stubby finger. That being said, even though I think this effect looks cool, I don’t think I’m going to keep this app. It might be free, but it wasn’t worth it to me. The ads opened up too often, and it was buggy and imprecise to use. If I decide I want to do cool things like this with my photos, I will spend money on a good quality app.

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LINE Camera is just ridiculous, but fun. You can add stickers and text and sparkles, or whatever your heart desires to your photos. Of course you only get a limited amount in the free version, to get the really good stuff you have to pay. But at least this one didn’t have annoying adds popping open all the time! That being said, I won’t be keeping this one either. It’s fun, but not really anything I need.

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I can, however, see the appeal for libraries who have very limited budgets and can’t afford any sort of graphics software–free, buggy apps are better than handmade posters!

Oh hey, 23 Mobile Things, it’s been a while.

I use Twitter and Facebook regularly, and while I have some of the other accounts mentioned here (g+, anyone?), these are the ones I do the most with. At one point, I was a fairly active GetGlue user, but the apps haven’t worked very well for me since they switched to tvtag, and in all honesty I had stopped using it very much quite a while before the switch. I do have a bunch of physical stickers that I earned, so if anyone wants any random ones, let me know.

ANYway.

What I explored for this was HootSuite, because I like that you can schedule tweets. I am not planning on using it for my own tweeting, because there is nothing going on in my life that is so important I need to schedule tweets to be sent out. But if the proposed library Twitter account does in fact go through, this is a good tool to know about–the dashboard is much better for simultaneously keeping track of your timeline and mentions, because let’s be honest, one of the biggest failings of Twitter has always been its interface. I did for a while experiment with other Twitter apps, and for quite a while used Echofon, but after an update no longer liked the interface, and switched to the Twitter mobile app, which had gotten much better by that time. (The desktop version is still dire, but I almost never tweet from an actual computer, so that’s ok; that’s probably why it’s so bad, they assume their core user group is out, mobile, doing stuff, and if you’re bound to a desktop, you are almost certainly using a third party site anyway.)

Since I use Twitter and Facebook for different things, I’m not interested in apps that smoosh them together, but again, if the library’s Twitter account does materialize, I think we would be wise to explore tools that allow us to do multiple things in a less time consuming way. But that’s a ways off yet, so I’ll just remember this Thing if and when the time comes.

Oh, Pinterest. Here I am again, using you. I’ve quit you before–to no avail, APPARENTLY.

I fully understand the appeal of Pinterest, and while I enjoy browsing it from time to time, it’s just not for me. I signed up originally back in the day when you had to be vetted before they let you into their playground, and I made a few anemic boards. (They’re still there, by the way, and just as pathetic as ever.) But for me, this is sort of the same thing as RSS feeds, just with more pictures. It’s not how I consume my internet cookies.

There are a million ways that libraries could use this, however. You could make boards for themed books displays, or for read-a-likes, or for award winners/nominees, or for staff picks, or for book group titles, or for banned books, or for new releases, or for titles related to library programming…the boards are basically only limited by the imagination of the people putting them together. And it’s free, and it takes only a few minutes to create, and can be easily linked to. So really, there’s no reason for libraries NOT to be using this!

Since I already have a Drive account, I chose to use Quickoffice. With a few small exceptions, Word, Power Point, and Excel look and function the way that they do on my desktop, and that’s a big plus–if I’m going to go to the bother of fiddling with something like this on my tablet, I don’t want to have to learn a whole new system for something I already know how to do. And since I can also link to my Drive account, it’s even more convenient.

Another app I used for this is TinyScan. This app allows you to use your tablet or phone to take pictures of documents, and then turns them into PDFs. Super convenient if you’re out and about and need to quickly send something to someone in a format that they can use!

MLA

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