Twenty Five Ways to Use Trello in Libraries

This monster list contains our best ideas for ways that librarians, library teams, and libraries can use Trello to organize their work and information. We use a lot of these in real life! The rest are ways our friends use Trello in their libraries, uses we've invented to recommend to colleagues, or ideas that were ignited by examples on the Trello Inspiration site. Our team has been Trello-ing since 2012 and the longer we use it, the more possibilities we find. We're finally sharing five years' worth of experience and idea-having here because we're facilitating a whole workshop about Trello for librarians at our favorite cheap, super fun conference for academic librarians, The Collective. We created this Ultimate Idea Board: Ways to Use Trello in Libraries as an interactive resource for the workshop. It houses all 25 of these ideas in Trello card form, plus links to suggested Power-Ups, Extensions, and instructions. We're hoping the Ultimate Idea Board grows as our workshop participants (and you, dear reader!) make your own additions to the trove.

A Trello board showing the 25 ideas given in the following list.

Twenty Five! Amazing and Creative Ways to Use Trello in Libraries

  1. Strategic Planning with Gannt Charts
    • Map out long-range strategic or operational plans for your library, department, team, or project. Use the Elegannt Power-Up + Chrome Extension to set dependencies and show project phases in Gannt chart view.
  2. Short-Term Project Board with Kanban
    • Use a new Board to facilitate a workflow for a creative project. Make Lists for project phases like Design, Build, Review, and Implement. Each card is an item (e.g. a video) and moves across the Board to completion.
  3. Long-Term Projects Using Multiple Team Boards
    • Track progress, make assignments, and maintain transparency for your team or library’s long-term projects. A collection of Boards can manage the work of an entire department, or manage the operations of an entire library - especially a small one on a budget.
  4. Committee Work
    • Reduce time spent in meetings and stop losing important information in email threads by setting up an online space for your library committees in Trello. Transparency bonus: if you make your Board public (or share it by link) or your library is using Trello Teams for other purposes, your committee's work will be more shareable than ever.
  5. Research & Writing
    • Meet your professional goals or faculty requirements for conducting research and publishing by using a Board to break down your project into phases, organize your literature review, administrate your experiment, plan drafts, outline, set deadlines and send yourself reminders.
  6. Promotion Portfolio Compilation
    • Be one step ahead when promotion time rolls around by creating Boards in advance where you can align annual goals and projects to contribute to the areas you’re required to develop for promotion. Cards can store associated files and objects that will comprise your portfolio in a clearly organized way - no more dumping documents and emails in a folder to be sorted three years hence.
  7. Knowledge Base/Documentation Board
    • Store documentation for policies, procedures, and workflows in one Board or many Boards. Categorize pieces of documentation by filing them under List headings that correspond to areas of work or type of documentation (e.g. Departmental Policies, Circulation Procedures). Don’t delete cards when old workflows are superseded by new ones, Archive them so they enter your historical knowledge base.
  8. Help Desk Ticketing System
    • Open a Board to the public to allow your user base to submit bugs or tickets, then use an additional Board behind the scenes to process the tickets. Or use a library-visible Board for the same purpose internally.
  9. Recurring Tasks
    • Manage tasks that must be completed daily, weekly, monthly, or annually by establishing templates. Devise template Cards, Checklists, or even Boards for copying. Better yet, use the Card Repeater Power-Up to automatically repeat Cards (with Checklists) at set intervals to ensure each step in repeat tasks are completed on time. Perfect for student worker management.
  10. Department Overview
    • Keep top-level information about your department available in an Overview Board. Membership, leadership, responsibilities, contact information, major projects and initiatives, links to guiding documents. Or arrange information about every department in your library in an Overview Board, including organizational charts, missions, and strategic plans in addition to departmental info.
  11. Library Operations
    • Tap into Trello’s versatility to run an entire small library using Boards for administration, supervising and scheduling, project planning, knowledge base and archiving. Trello is powerful for a free tool, or upgrade to Trello for Business (still a heck of a deal) for more security and administrative controls.
  12. Meetings
    • Continually re-use a single Meeting Board for your library, department, or team as a place to store meeting topics, build meeting agendas, run the meeting, discuss topics, assign action items, and archive minutes or discussions.
  13. New Employee Onboarding/Training
    • Develop a re-usable Onboarding or Training Board template to be copied and customized for each new hire. Introduce new team members to library policies, culture, and teammates. Create training materials once, keep the template up to date, and always be ready to onboard a new person.
  14. Team Brainstorming
    • Make a place on Trello for your team to share ideas, discuss topics, or brain-dump their midnight strokes of brilliance. Brainstorm in real time with the RealTime Board Power-Up (for virtual whiteboarding) or the Google Drive Power-Up (for embedding Docs for concurrent editing).
  15. Scheduling
    • Schedule staffing for your library’s service points in a transparent way that allows your staff to communicate preference and availability, and make trades without generating extra email! Customize a Trello Board to make schedules for the reference desk, circulation desk, opening and closing, student workers, student supervisors, building supervisors, IT help desk...any role that requires a non-standard schedule.
  16. Annual Appraisals/Evaluation
    • Private Boards allow you to add to your appraisal materials all year long, making your life much easier in December when you need to assemble your accomplishments. Create a Label (Labels can transcend Boards and Teams to collect Cards from your entire Trello account) that will gather your Accomplishments when you filter for the Label. If you supervise employees, you can set up Boards only the two of you can see.
  17. Event/Program Planning
    • Create a Board for planning a major event with your team, or a Board that manages the planning and hosting of a program series over time. Generate ideas, store contact information for vendors, assign tasks to team members.
  18. Marketing Campaigns
    • Market a new database, a programming series, a new service at your library...or get  serious about promoting your library year-round on campus. Plan your marketing campaign on a Trello Board, but more importantly, track and report on the success of various messages and media channels so you know what adjustments to make and what works for next time. Why market it if we’re not measuring it?
  19. Social Media Schedule
    • Plan for content, schedule posting, manage processes, point to style guidance, and avoid duplication by scheduling your social media activity on a Board. (See this excellent Tumblr example.) Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat, YouTube...use Lists and Labels to keep track of what will go where across each platform your library is using.
  20. Blog Editorial Schedule
    • Manage the direction and content of your library or department blog(s) in Trello. Why not just do it within the blog publishing platform? Visual organization. An Editorial Board in Trello helps lay out content areas, posting schedules, and responsibilities in a location and layout that’s accessible to the whole team.
  21. Instruction Scheduling
    • Organize your library’s instruction by showing it all in one place on an Instruction [Scheduling] Board. Use it to keep track of who’s teaching what, when, and where, or use it to administrate scheduling with faculty and assigning teaching librarians. Make sure a substitute librarian can step in when needed by attaching all relevant details, documents, and lesson plans to class Cards.
  22. Instruction Materials Repository
    • Centralize storage and sharing of instructional materials amongst your teaching librarians. Create Cards with descriptions of how to use the lesson, activity, or learning object, and then attach all related items - files, links, videos. Encourage discussion on the Board about how to use or modify materials, or collaborate on instruction.
  23. Course Management/Class Collaboration
    • Foster collaboration amongst your students (or colleagues) by using a Board to distribute materials, instructions, and assignments, including group work or discussion that can occur right in Trello. Use this with a credit course you teach, with student groups you work with regularly, to share information following one-shots, or to deliver professional development or continuing education.
  24. Professional Reading
    • Harness the power of RSS feeds to send items for reading to Trello. Use Zapier or IFTTT to auto-create cards for new items. Then prioritize your reading by re-ordering Cards, annotate by taking notes on Cards, tag, sort, and filter using labels and descriptions, and keep it all in one keyword-searchable place with Card archiving.
  25. Professional Development/Webinar Repository
    • Crowd-source professional development opportunities for your team on a shared Trello Board. Archive webinars you’ve paid for access to, perennial favorites, and have colleagues add new material they find valuable. Access will be easy, and you can either make assignments for individuals to view/complete items or simply monitor who has done what in the Card activity for different webinars, readings, or courses.

I know there are TONS of Trello users in libraries out there...what ways are you using it that we haven't thought of? Tell us in the comments, or post them to the Ultimate Idea Board: Ways to Use Trello in Libraries. We'd love to hear about your Trello experiences!