#97 Free Software

Cost of software is often cited as a reason for not getting involved in the creation of electronic materials for pupils and other members of staff in schools. Time and training are other reasons, but those are different issues.

With the advent of open source software, there is a plethora of free software out there, and some of it just as good as the more expensive commercial products. The range is so large, it’s difficult to pick out examples.

My own favourites are audacity (sound), paint.net (images), Open Office (Office Suite), MWSnap 3 (Screen Capture), WordPress (Blogging), and Wetpaint (Wikis).

Loads more recommended here, alongside their commercial cousins.


#80 Innovation


Innovation is a state of mind. Many librarians are innovative, and many are not. So what does ‘innovative’ mean?

For me, an innovative professional is one who is constantly looking at the services they provide, with a view to improving them. This might be with the use of new technologies, new ways of looking at services, the introduction of entirely new services, or occasionally re-introducing older methods of service delivery.

What would I class as innovation in the library sphere? Anything that encourages pupil participation: blogs for book reviews, blogs for library service updates that encourage comment, surveys, conversation, communication of any sort. Anything that broadens the librarian’s mind: creation of curricular link collections, communication with teaching staff, cpd research, networking activity, thinking time. There are technologies that could be used creatively, almost too many to list: blogs, wikis, SMS (text your reminders), websites, library 2.0 technology, web 2.0 tools, photos, video, audio, podcasting.
Sometimes, simple little tricks can encourage pupils to read (or anything else you want them to do). I used to take the opening lines from a book and enlarge them greatly to about A2 size. I would stick this on the wall without label or comment. It was amazing how many pupils would ask what it was and demand to see the book.

Innovation is all about looking for the angle that will improve the service, never about the use of gimmicks or technology for its own sake.

And it can make a difference!