CPD23 Thing 4: Current awareness tools

10 Jul

For Thing 4, we are supposed to explore 3 tools for keeping up with current news and information in the profession: Twitter, RSS feeds, and Pushnote. Of these three tools, I was already using Twitter and RSS (via Google Reader), so the only thing that was new to me was Pushnote.

I started using Twitter for a class in my MLIS program called Information Technology Tools and Applications. Up until that point, I had not been at all active in social media. My only prior experience was Facebook, which I had just joined the previous semester. I am so glad that my instructor had us all sign up for Twitter as part of the class, because it has been a really valuable tool for me not just for keeping up with news and information but for networking with librarians all over the country (and internationally!) as well. I started off with a private account, only following and being followed by my classmates and instructor. However, at the end of that semester I had the opportunity to attend the ALA Annual Meeting and decided to follow the conference hashtag and try tweeting the conference. Since I wanted to be able to participate fully in twitter conversations at the conference, I opened my twitter feed and decided to dive in to public social media participation. It wasn’t a complete success – I was trying to tweet from a first-gen kindle since I didn’t have a smartphone, and the browser was rudimentary, at best – but some of my tweets got featured in Library Journal’s top tweets from the conference, and I started getting followers. Since that time, I have met a lot of great library people via twitter and have learned a lot from the things that they post. I have started participating in #libchat, a twitter chat held every Wednesday evening for discussion on all sorts of library-related topics, which has been another great experience. Unfortunately I have not been able to be as active on twitter lately as I used to be, but I still find it to be a very useful tool.

I also started using Google Reader to follow blogs via RSS during the class mentioned above. I hesitated using an RSS feed reader for a long time, because I liked going to the actual page to read content on most of the blogs I read. However, once I started using Google Reader I quickly saw the utility of it. I can follow many more sites this way than I could if I had to remember to individually visit them all every day. Also, different blogs have different posting schedules and frequency, so accessing them all in one place saves a lot of time. I don’t check my reader as often as I should, mostly because I signed up for it using my yahoo email address (even though I have a Google account), so I need to sign out of my Google account in order to access my reader. I do plan to move everything to my Google account, but there doesn’t appear to be an easy way to do this besides adding all the feeds individually. Despite this issue, I still find it to be a great way to keep up with information on library-related blogs and other websites. Some of my favorite sites to follow on Google reader are  LISNews (Library and Information Science News), ALA TechSource (tech-related news from ALA), The Kept-up Academic Librarian (higher ed news for librarians), No Shelf Required (ebooks), and The Scholarly Kitchen (scholarly publishing). What are your favorites? Despite the fact that I have trouble keeping up with my Google Reader, I am always looking for great sites to follow.

The last tool we were supposed to explore for Thing 4 was Pushnote. I have not used Pushnote before, so I was curious about what it was all about. I did sign up for a user account; however, I decided not to download and install the browser plug-in. When I was about to do this, I got a warning that the plug-in needed to access all my information on the sites I visit and my browsing history. I went back to Pushnote’s site and was not able to locate a terms of service document or any kind of privacy statement. The only thing I found was a short statement in the FAQ that they do not track you. I know it’s silly to be paranoid when I am using all sorts of other tools with privacy issues (various Google services and Facebook, in particular). It’s the lack of any kind of statement that bothers me, and I’m a little leery of using this service. Based on other people’s posts, it does not seem I’m missing much. I already use Diigo for bookmarking sites, which has social features and seems to be all I need at this point. If anyone else has found Pushnote to be indispensable, please let me know!

2 Responses to “CPD23 Thing 4: Current awareness tools”

  1. Roddy MacLeod July 14, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    The free service JournalTOCs http://www.journaltocs.ac.uk/ can help you with journal current awareness. JournalTOCs aggregates RSS and makes the process of keeping up-to-date with the contents of scholarly journals simple. If you want, you can use JournalTOCs without knowing anything about RSS, but also if you want, you can use it to find RSS TOC feeds.


  1. CPD23: Once More, With Feeling. Or, Thing 5: Reflective Practice « Marginalia - June 18, 2012

    […] year I started the 23 Things for Professional Development course, but got sidetracked after Thing 4. In fact, I got sidetracked from the blog entirely – I think I felt that I couldn’t […]

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