Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Things we know: 
-There AREN'T enough hours in the day. 
-There will ALWAYS be books to shelve. Lots. (Which is a good thing!)
-There will ALWAYS be one more thing to put on your To Do list. 

Can I get an Amen? :)

I don't know about you, but I am always on the lookout for productivity tools. Anything that makes me maximize those hours and make the most of what little time I have. iGoogle (pictured above) is one unique tool that really works for me. Included in my normal morning start-up routine (logging in to Atriuum, Outlook, BookTracks, Self Check stations, computer lab machines, Renaissance Place, etc.) is loading my iGoogle page. iGoogle permits you to customize your home screen with a variety of interactive widgets that meet multiple needs all at once. Here are a few examples:

  • This one may not seem relevant to the library setting, but stay with me. I like using the weather widget/app to help me track any severe weather or (these days) extreme differences in temperatures throughout the day. My library is a VERY busy place with a huge wall of windows, and many times both teachers and students ask about the temperature outside or whether it is supposed to rain on us during afternoon dismissal. You know, those of us with the cute rain boots like to know when we can wear them! :) Again, this might not seem so important, but it helps me help my people. 

  • I include my Google Books library as a way to easily search the texts of works I may be studying with students or on which I may be planning a literature project. 

  • Maybe YOU were a math major in your undergrad life, but not Moi! I need a calculator to help with with everything from determining laminating charges for classroom teachers to gathering circulation statistics for those monthly reports. Sometimes I loan out my handheld device, so this widget helps make sure I always have a number cruncher when...well, when I need to crunch some numbers. 

  • I don't actually use this one quite as much as some of the others, but I definitely like the option of being able to search dictionary.com or thesaurus.com quickly and easily, without having to open an additional tab and wait for another graphics-heavy page to load. This is a time saver. 

  • Google Docs, oh Google Docs...how I love thee! Serious business, this widget is one I use most often. Rather than having to go to the Google docs page and then locate the one file I want and then open it, I have 3 extra windows open cluttering up my screen and have had time to sprout 3 more gray hairs to boot. Skip that with this Google Doc widget that enables you to open exactly what you want exactly when you want it. 

  • This Google Translate app is another that I don't use much. We have been cautioned as a district not to rely on these types of translators when dealing with English Learners and their families because there are cultural considerations that should factor in the translation of any document. Please keep that in mind...but for a high school language class, this would be a pretty cool quick resource to use in supporting students as they complete their assignments. 

  • If you aren't using a blog reader or site aggregator tool, you really should consider opening an account. Google Reader is my favorite (though there are several others), and this Google Reader app on my iGoogle page shows me the categories I may want to read at various times throughout the day when I have a moment. And of course there's the saving "Mark all as read" button when you either just don't have time or you are too overwhelmed with other tasks to consume any library leadership or educational technology blogs. 

  • Last, but certainly not least, is my all-time favorite reason for using iGoogle.........GOOGLE TASKS! This widget lets you set up a different list for any categories of your choosing. I have one for various projects I have going on in the library, and of course my daily To-Do list. You can mark items off, just as on a notepad. You can set due dates for yourself and sort them by the order of due date. (Outlook will do this as well, but this is more user friendly to me. To each his/her own, right?)

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