What color is your gel pen? Personality quizzes and their place in your library’s engagement strategy

Thanks for joining us at the Library Marketing & Communications Conference!

Download our handout, How to create engaging quizzes & polls in 6 simple steps. We’re also sharing our presentation notes so that you can give your brain and keyboard a break.

Have you created a kick ass quiz for your users? Let us know in the comments!

Productive is Pretty: Using Trello to visualize project management for effective organizations and fun-loving people

When organizational systems work well, it’s not only useful--it’s beautiful! Academic libraries require dozens of intricate workflows for every facet of the organization. We can help you make your workflows visually coherent, intuitive, and efficient. This session will focus on using Trello to create and implement new or existing workflows for collaborative teams (yay, transparency!) and individuals (take that, to-do list!).

No matter what library department you work in or what organizational problem you need to solve, this session will result in a solution.

  • Your colleagues persistently plan events using a 100-message email thread?

  • You need to track dozens of library instruction sessions and delegate responsibilities?

  • Your student workers are accountable for dozens of recurring tasks every week?

  • You are frustrated that details about past projects reside in your @#$%& email?

We use and love Trello, a free, online project- and task-management system that is visually appealing, easy to learn, fun to use, and powerfully customizable. As a visual organization tool, Trello can facilitate pretty productivity in a variety of ways:

  • To accomplish daily/weekly/recurring tasks

  • To track a project or many projects

  • To help a team communicate

  • To set goals

  • To train new hires

  • To lesson plan

  • To prioritize and delegate tasks

We have spent the last four years maxing out Trello’s capabilities as a project-management and communication tool (we still can’t believe it’s free!), and we’ve learned how to begin with a goal and end with a custom solution. Get ready to create systems that will streamline work, keep projects visible and organized, and improve efficiency.

We are confident that you will agree the beauty of visual organization increases productivity by making work fun again!

Beginning with the Basics

At the core of Trello’s versatility is its basic Kanban-inspired setup of three lists titled To Do, Doing, and Done. This structure is intended to encourage your work to progress through through to completion instead of lingering in the still-dreaming-about-it category.

To Do, Doing, Done is the underlying framework of any intricate, customized Trello workflow. So here's an exercise for beginners:

  • Start with those three lists.

  • Then determine one, two, or three additional phases your work normally goes through, or should go through!

  • Add a list for each of those phases and reorder your board to integrate them after To Do and before Done.

Intermediate Optimization Skills

Identifying and implementing Trello power-ups for customized productivity will not only level up your efficiency, it’s also a ton of fun! Below are lists of our favorite Trello integrations, power-ups, and Chrome Extensions. Oh! And don’t forget to learn Trello Hot Keys--they save time and make you feel like a fast-typing hacker in the movies.


Browse and filter all Trello power-ups here.

Apps & Integrations

Chrome Extensions

  • Trellius: an alternative to the Calendar power-up, this extension creates a drag and drop calendar that’s embedded right above the lists on a board.

  • Ultimello: a features pack that lets you do things like fancy card sorting and display the number of cards on a list.

  • Trillor: a card mirror to “manage personal tasks from several boards.”

  • Trello External Window: takes Trello out of your browser.

Advancing to Automation

Automating and delegating tasks are two of the most effective ways to free up time. Trello’s was built to make work transparent and collaborative, so it’s a natural fit for delegating tasks and empowering teams. But Trello is also ideal for automation, and the list of possibilities grows everyday!  Use automation to creatively problem-solve and to take workflows to the next level.

The most common way to automate tasks in the digital world is to use If This Then That (IFTTT) or Zapier, services that allow you to create your own recipes for how Trello interacts with other apps.  See Trello-specific examples below!

Alternatively, combining power-ups is another way to automate tasks (note: this does require Trello Gold or Business). Example: Try Card Repeater + Card Aging. Use that in tandem with Due Dates and Calendar View. BOOM.

Automation Tools & Trello Bots

Make Your Productivity Pretty!

Beautifying your Trello experience is not only fun--it also makes you more productive! With Trello Gold, you can add background images to your boards, which helps you identify them quickly.

The Trello blog has some great tips for making your boards pretty. To find images for board backgrounds, we are partial to Pexels and Dress Your Tech, which features gorgeous desktop backgrounds designed by artists.

We also recently discovered the Stylish Chrome Extension along with ALL THESE OPTIONS for Trello themes and skins. I am currently in love with Modernized Trello.

Using Trello in Libraries

This post is a summary of our presentation at the 2017 Collective Conference, We created a Trello Team for participants, along with an Ultimate Idea Board for Using Trello in libraries.

We’d love to hear how you are using Trello for your work, personal life, or in your library! How has Trello made you more productive? What problems have you been able to solve? How has visual project management impacted your team?

Let us know in the comments!

Make it Beautiful, Make it Usable: DIY Design for Libraries

About the Beautiful & Usable Workshop

This workshop focuses on adapting existing ideas, learning materials, lesson plans, presentations, signage, marketing materials, and learning activities into more beautiful, usable content. Basic instructional design practices are introduced, then basic graphic design concepts and methods. Participants bring something they wanted to reinvent - a worksheet, a PowerPoint presentation, an interactive tutorial, a video, a LibGuide, etc. Guided by a Design Checklist and relying on a curated collection of recommended tools, participants work individually, in groups, and with the presenters to update their learning objects.

Access the Google Drive Folder: Tools & Materials

2016 Brick & Click Presentation

Do you plan on attending this interactive presentation at the 2016 Brick & Click Conference? We can't wait to meet you! Please fill out this super quick survey so that we can tailor our presentation to you! Feel free to look through the Tools & Materials Google Drive Folder, and don't forget to bring an object (and your laptop or tablet) to work on!

2016 Library Collective Presentation

Curious about the level of expertise of participants? Or do you wonder what kinds of materials they reinvented? Then check out the results of our survey from the 2016 Library Collective Conference!

How to Make Your Library Instruction Suck Less

If you teach information literacy or do any kind of library instruction, chances are that you've never had formal training in actually being a teacher.  We get it! While it can sometimes seem that teaching comes naturally to certain individuals and not to others, teachers and teaching librarians all have room to improve. When librarians gain confidence in their teaching abilities and connect with students in productive ways, student learning has the opportunity to improve as well. We just gave a presentation outlining 6 strategies to improve library instruction at the Brick & Click academic library conference:

In our presentation, we talked a lot about WHY each of these strategies are important (if you need a refresher, see our slide deck above, or read the full paper in the conference proceedings. But if you’re like us, your favorite part of presentations is exploring all the tangible tools and practical tips--so we decided to extract the HOW for you right here!

  1. Speak the Language of Your Students

    1. Beloit College Mindset List

    2. Generation Calculator

    3. Social media: Instagram and SnapChat are currently most popular with students, but also helpful are Twitter & TweetDeck, Facebook Groups for Schools, and Yik Yak.

    4. YouTube

    5. Know Your Meme

    6. Reddit

    7. And how to find out what's trending on the web

  2. Design Meaningful Activities

    1. Lesson Plan Generator

    2. Kagan Cooperative Learning Structures

    3. Learning Outcome Generator

  3. Connect Skills to the Real World

    1. The Muse (we highly suggest subscribing to their weekly newsletter!)


    3. Automating job searches with IFTTT (if this then that) and advanced Google search

    4. Professional nameplate sites and of course, LinkedIn for Higher Education

  4. Tell stories and be funny (...or at least try to be)

    1. Listening to stories is a great way to become a better storyteller. Check out this classic list of storytelling podcasts + this list of new and addictive storytelling podcasts.

    2. Humor Strategies to Use

  5. Engage Students Outside the Classroom

    1. Google Apps and Communication Tools

    2. EdTech App Finder

    3. Zotero

  6. Make Your Content Beautiful

    1. Canva + Tutorials from Canva Design School

    2. Google Fonts + Google Font Pairing

    3. Piktochart (Infographic Maker)

    4. Slides Carnival + Google Slides

    5. Good Stock Photos: Death to Stock, Pexels, Albumarium, Unsplash

Okay, that's all for now! What did we leave off? What tools or links would you recommend?

The Power of the Pair

Team collaboration What's a creative pair? We are! Jess and I work in the same department, on the same project, from a shared office. We were beginning to think our personal overlap was getting out of hand when we started reading about creative pairs and decided to fully embrace our collaboration instead. Our workmates think it's funny when we finish each other's sentences, but tendencies like shared language contribute to our increased productivity as a pair. Just like in this quote from Joshua Wolf Shenk's book (linked below), "When we go back and forth, our ideas, our ambitions, our efficiency, our ability - everything gets bigger. The more we overlap, the larger we become, much larger than we were as two individuals” (p. 51), when it comes to Jess and me 1 + 1 does not equal 2. It equals something like 2.5 or 3. 

Creative pairs challenge the conventional structures of the lone genius and the all-powerful team. Pairs--who begin to talk, think, and be like one another the more they interact--are able to utilize transactive memory, balance each other professionally and emotionally, and are often praised for their compounded productivity. The relationship between two people in a creative pair has proven powerful, and organizations have the opportunity to capitalize on their collaborative accomplishments.

Does this sound like you and a colleague? Here are some of our best recommendations for working collaboratively with a partner or a team.

Recommended Reading

Powers of Two: How Relationships Drive Creativity, Joshua Wolf Shenk

Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better, Clive Thompson

Recommended Tools


A perfect app for keeping a team of two (or more!) on track for tasks and projects. Uses a visual sticky-notes-in-columns setup. Checklists allow for the EXTREMELY satisfying experience of checking tasks off when complete.

Google Docs & Google Slides

We've all known about Google Docs for a while. Basic cloud-based word processing with ACTUAL real-time collaborative editing. Now check out Slides for the same experience creating slide decks with a partner or team. Comments, Group Chat, and Suggestion Mode are indispensable. Our most recent favorite feature: quickly locate your editing compatriot in the Doc or Slide deck by clicking their icon in the top corner. Zing! There they are.

Skype or Google Hangouts

Your pair (or team) doesn’t need to be in the same geographic location to keep in sync. Choose your favorite tool for audio and video conferencing and instant messaging. Then use the same one consistently to build up a searchable record of your conversations and all those links you'll be sending back and forth. Transactive memory, enabled by technology.

Zotero Groups

This cool feature of the citation manager Zotero allows your team to build a shared library of research sources, tag them, and use discussion threads. We are SO into this right now.


A super simple, super zoomable outlining app. Good for keeping your writing distraction-free. We use it to outline e-learning content, and you can share and edit collaboratively.


Basically, this desktop app/phone app/browser plug-in will organize your whole life. Save articles and items from anywhere on the Internet, annotate and tag them, make notes and to-do lists, word process, the list goes on and on. The more stuff you save in Evernote, the more useful it gets.


Keep track of allllll the pieces of the Internet you love to read. Feedly aggregates various blogs and news sites for you (remember Google Reader? This is the new that.) and then makes is really easy to share content back and forth with friends. It even works for academic journals that post new issues on a webpage. Use it to find things to add to your team's Zotero Group!

Recommended Practices

  • Working in the same space (shared office, co-work space, or virtual hangout)
  • Collaborative editing
  • Co-note taking
  • Shared accomplishment tracking
  • Friendship : )

Are you one half of a creative pair? What are your favorite collaboration tools?

6 Things You Might Be Doing Wrong With Your Research Assignments (and how to fix them)

This fall marks the 2nd anniversary of our involvement with our university's general education curriculum. That equals 4 semesters of flipping the classroom, spending one week with each 200 and 300 section, and adapting our classroom content for Internet classes as well. It also means that we've seen A LOT of research assignments--about 40 per semester. Below is a presentation we gave at a faculty teaching conference to help instructors build better research assignments. Oh! And Slides Carnival + Death to Stock Photo is now our favorite combination for presentation slides.

#molib2013: What you want from us

Click the image above to download our 2013 MLA slides.

We're back from MLA! We had a great turnout and lots of conversations afterwards, so thanks to everyone who conquered the early morning to attend. At the end of the presentation we asked our audience, "what do you want from us?"

You said you wanted:

  • Our presentation slides! Done.
  • To see more tutorials. They're on their way...just as soon as we make them.
  • To know more about
    • Our curriculum mapping,
    • Flipping information literacy instruction,
    • Why we chose Adobe Captivate over Softchalk (and other e-learning software).
    • Making stuff your students will think is cool.

So get ready, y'all (did I mention that I'm a southern girl?), because we're going to be writing about each of these things in the coming weeks. You don't want to miss it, so be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed or sign up to receive an email notification whenever we post.

Also, I can't resist sharing my favorite feedback tweet:

Suuuppper flattering, right? Oh! Do you still want more from us? Do you have another question or topic you want us to address? Leave a comment and we'll make your day.



The presentation is prepped: slides, transitions, notes, handouts, terrible canned jokes, all ready to go. The suitcases are packed, the mix tape (uhh...playlist) has been carefully compiled to best facilitate car-dancing, librarian-professional outfits are chosen. We’re off to the Missouri Library Association conference 2013!

Friday morning. 8 a.m. We'll be the ones downing coffee at a continuous steady clip. Join us in Alpine 1 for our exciting! innovative! stellar! presentation about the project we've been working so hard on...and talking about non-stop.

Here's what [the conference program says] we'll be talking about:

Starting From Scratch: A New Recipe for Integrating Outcomes-Based Information Literacy into College Gen-Eds

What do you do when your institution completely revamps their general education curriculum and gives your library the opportunity to be involved? You get excited about creating a brand new, cutting edge information literacy component that will be taught to every student on campus! Using the framework of an Assessment Design Cycle, we’ll discuss how our task force moved through the design process, from beginning with our outcome goals to creating a set of modular lesson plans that include innovative classroom techniques, learning technologies, and online components. Get a behind the scenes look at how we managed the project, what tools we used, and how we turned big picture outcomes into a functioning, institutionally-integrated program. With a focus on combining learning activities and assessment, learn how to create a seamlessly interactive experience for your students.