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From images, audio, and video to mobile apps, a growing number of information sources are found in non-print formats. These resources can be engaging and interactive, however they can also be difficult to locate and access.
Issues in Technology-based Information Access
When searching for information, much of what librarians access focuses on materials in a text form. However, in many disciplines non-text information such as images, audio, and video is more useful than text sources.
According to Neal (2012, 1), “Non-text information surrounds us. We move around the world every day by engaging constantly with non-text information such as inanimate objects, ephemeral events, and interpersonal cues without thinking about it.”
Satellite images are an example of a non-text information source.
Non-textual documents present distinct problems for librarians. It’s difficult to search a work of music or locate a photograph. Tools like Google Images have made searching visuals easier. For instance, you can drag an image into the search bar and Google will locate instances of that image. The use of tagging in social networks like Flickr and Pinterest help users locate images. Pandora and other music services help users locate similar works. However we’re still a long way from searching videos for key ideas or locating specific ideas within a silent film. Fortunately, research is underway to make visual and auditory indexing realistic.
Neal (2012, 7) notes that
“content-based image retrieval, which is explored in computer science and the more technical corners of information science, relies on physical similarities such as shapes, colours, and patterns that can be uncovered between images.”
Menard (2012, 41) notes that
“compared with text-based retrieval, image retrieval poses specific challenges. The first difficulty comes from the translation of the visual representation of an object into a textual description. Given the possibility of multiple interpretations of the visual resource, there is serious risk of ambiguity and error. In other words, image searchers will not necessarily describe and search for an image using the same concepts or the same words. Moreover, perhaps the most significant difference between textual and image retrieval is that, with images, users have a higher propensity to browse when they go through their searches. As a result, users will also check associated textual metadata to decide if an image is relevant or not.”
Increasingly, librarians are making use of translation services to assist clients in making use of global resources. For instance, Google allows readers to translate web pages and many websites provide the option to browse in a particular language. When tags are used to search for images, problems with translation can cause issues with the search results.
“The quality of indexing language plays a major part at the time of digital image retrieval. The principal problem of most languages used for image indexing remains that difficulty in translating certain specific elements of language (e.g., expressions, compound words, proper names, etc.). Unfortunately, even if relevant images retrieved do not require any translation mechanism to be understood by the user and can be used immediately, language barriers still prevent users from accessing digital images” (Menard, 2012, 41).
Abebe Rorissa and others (2012, 185) studied the use of geotagged still and moving images in Flickr. They describe geotagging as “a process of tagging either the latitude and longitude coordinates or the place names of the location where an image was shot.” They note that
“systematic analysis of geotagged images is timely and necessary because the phenomenon of social tagging and its true potential is new and not fully understood, several million geotagged photographs are uploaded to Flickr each month, and tags are frequently criticized because they are imprecise and not well-investigated.” Their research found that geotagging can “help solve the indexing problem associated with semantic contents of multimedia documents”.
Read Solorzano, Ronald Martin (2013). Adding value at the desk: how technology and user expectations are changing reference work. The Reference Librarian, 54(2), 89-102.
Think about how you would convince a person who only thinks in terms of print materials to make use of technology-based resources. Pick a technology such as mobile apps or videos. Select three information sources you think would be useful within a particular discipline. Use them to describe why technology-based resources are important.
A mobile app is computer software designed to run on handheld devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Apps are shared through application distribution platforms run by the operating system of the particular device. For example, the Apple iTunes website is used to download apps for the iOS system. The GooglePlay website is used to download apps for the Android system.
Users can access mobile apps based on categories such as Reference.
Mobile apps are a popular way to share content. One advantage of apps over websites is that the content must be concise. Those overwhelmed with information overload will find apps to be much more usable information sources.
When purchasing apps for library devices, be sure to check for volume discounts from Apple, Google, or whoever you use as your application distribution platform.
Thousands of app vendors have emerged over the past several years. In most cases commercial apps cost from 99 cents to 10 dollars. When you find an app you like, be sure to check other apps that have been produced by this vendor.
Reference apps can be found across disciplines including encyclopedia, dictionaries, thesauruses, translation tools, and research tools.
Specialty apps are what make mobile apps so popular. These small, focused pieces of software can be found in every content area.
From virtual tours to performance reports, many different types of apps are produced by the government. Below are a few examples of apps in different categories.
- Database. AIDSinfo HIV/AIDS Drug Database by the National Library of Medicine
- Discovery Tool. PubMed4Hh by the National Library of Medicine
- Exhibitions. NLM Native Voices by the National Library of Medicine
- Glossary. Talking Glossary of Genetics by the National Human Genome Research Institute
- Government Guidelines. 2011 Guidelines for Field Triage of Injured Patients by the CDC
- Government Report. FY 2014 Performance and Accountability Report from the Architect of the Capitol
- Image Collections. Space Images for iPad by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
- Reading Tool. Turning the Pages (TTP) by the National Library of Medicine
- Statistics. Labor Stats by the US Department of Labor
- Time Sensitive Updates. DrugShortages by the FDA
- Tools. National Archives DocsTeach by NARA
Mobile apps can assist library users with many activities from using the library catalog to searching databases.
Mobile websites aren't apps in the sense that special software is downloaded. Instead, they're simply a version of a website designed to be viewable on a mobile device.
Lamb's Personal Connection
Mobile apps are HOT! If you don't have experience downloading apps on various devices, you need to develop these skills. Find a friend with a smartphone and spend some time together exploring and downloading apps.
This is not a trend that's going away, so it's time to get on the band wagon. Free government apps are a good place to start your exploration.
Many library user questions may call for the use of online tools.
Whether introducing readers to your website or sharing information in a non-traditional way, audio creation tools can be very useful across disciplines.
- Voki. Users create avatars then record audio or text for computer-generated voices.
- Vocaroo. Very easy to use; no registration required
- Voicethread. Users create slideshows with narration and the option for comments.
Calculators and Converters
Online calculators and converters are very useful in reference work across subject areas. For many calculations, simply enter the formula into Google and it will display the results.
- Coin Flipper
- CPI Calculator
- Dice Roller
- Earth's Orbit
- Income Calculator
- Interest Calculator
- List Randomizer
- Money Counter
- Monthly Payment Calculator
- Online Calculators
- Online Stopwatch
- Phone Bill Calculator
- Playing Card Shuffler
- Savings Estimator
- Salary Calculator
- Sales Tax Calculator
- Sun Clock
- Tip Calculator
- World Time Server
- World Time Zone
Many people find the creation of citations to be a tedious task. Online tools are a quick way to generate a professional, quality citation. In most cases, users can choose the citation style they wish to use.
Whether collaborating with colleagues or simply sharing with friends, cloud-based applications make working together easy. DropBox is just one of many file sharing websites. Many websites provide areas for sharing. For instance, Scribd specializes in online document viewing. Google Apps is the most popular cloud-based application tool. It also provides a place to storage and share files.
When looking for a fun and attractive way to share information, consider creating a comic.
- Pixton. Use the free version or consider the school version.
- Bitstrips. Need to sign-in to save.
- Cartoonist from Creaza
- Comic Creator
- Comic Master
- KABAM. Restricted to the story and theme provided.
- MakeBeliefs Comix. You can print or email your comic. No storage.
- Professor Garfield. Provides characters for stories.
- Strip Generator. Sign-in required to save and publish. Print without sign-in.
- Witty Comics
Whether working with money, sizes, measurements or other numbers, use an online converter to save time.
- All Measures - contains categories, formulas and no ads.
- Currency Conversion
- Inflation Conversion
- Online Conversion
- Math is Fun - contains a converter as well as a slider
- XE Currency Converter
For many activities, professionals make use of Microsoft Excel to generate charts and graphs. However, there are online tools that can provide a quick way to produce these images.
Graphic organizers are an excellent way to brainstorm ideas or present information in a visual way. While Microsoft Office provides some SmartArt tools that can be used to generate basic organizers, online tools provide more options.
- Bubbl.us. Very easy to use. Try it without signing up. No distracting tools, choices, or options.
- Cacoo. Create diagrams and concept maps.
- Creately. Create diagrams and mindmaps. Try it without signing up.
- Diagrammr. Very easy to show relationships. Try it without signing up.
- DropMind. Create mindmaps. Must sign up.
- Exploratree. Many online map starters. Create for specific, focused activities that require a particular type of map. Try it without signing up.
- Gliffy. Works great, but very annoying signup reminders. Try it without signing up.
- Lovelycharts. Create charts. Must sign up.
- Lucidchart. Create a flowchart or concept map. Try it without signing up.
- Mindmeister. Create a concept map. Must signup.
- Mindomo. Create a mindmap. Must signup. Three maps for free.
- mind42. Create mindmaps with links. Must signup.
- Popplet. Creat concept maps and post-its. Must signup.
- Slatebox. Creat mindmaps. Must signup.
- Spicynodes. More an a mindmap. Includes lots of space for text, links, images, etc. Try it without signing up.
- SpiderScribe. Create maps and include notes, documents, images, etc.
- ReadWriteThink. Provides interactive tools for making many different types of organizers.
Many people own digital cameras or use the one built into their phone. Once the images are downloaded, they may be looking for a free tool for editing. There are many options.
- Photo Flex. Easy to use photo editor.
- Aviary. Provides a great web widget to embed on your website.
- Befunky. Photo editing tools.
- BigHugeLabs. Lots of fun activities like making magazine covers and posters.
- Dumpr. Lots of fun filters.
- ImageChef. Lots of options.
- Kerpoof. Very easy to use Make a Drawing feature.
- Kizoa. Online photo editing.
- Flipbook. Make a flipbook by drawing pictures.
- Pho.to. Photo editing. Fun shapes and additions.
- Rsizr. Great for simple resizing activities.
- SumoPaint. Easy, quick drawing tool with no sign-in.
- Tuxpi. Photo editing.
Over the past several years, infographics have exploded in popularity. Online tools make it easy to create profession-quality infographics.
Whether building a map for a trip or designing a virtual tour, many online tools can help with map creation.
- Google Maps. Create an account and build your own maps. Invite others to collaborate.
Polls and Survey Tools
From polling your library users to helping a library client develop a professional-quality survey, make use of online tools.
Although many people continue to use Microsoft PowerPoint or Apple KeyNote for producing presentations, online tools have gained in popularity.
- Google Docs Presents. Create or collaboration on the creation of a presentation. Share privately or with the world.
- Prezi. Provides tools for creating dynamic presentation
- Presentation Sharing
- Slideshare. Upload slideshow that includes video, audio, and links. Must sign up.
Screencasts are excellent tools for creating online tutorials.
- Screencast-O-matic. One of the few that doesn't require a download.
Children of all ages enjoy creating stories. Many online tools can be used to help produce these exciting products.
- Storybird. A teacher version is available so teachers can set up student accounts.
- Art of Storytelling. Experience, tell, and picture a story.
- Boomwriter. Read, write, compete and get published.
- Dog's Life. Write a comic-like story.
- Kidsspace. Easy to use library-sponsored tools.
- Myths and Legends. Contains images and animation options.
- Littlebird Tales. Upload images and record you voice on each page.
- Picturebook Maker. Create picturebooks with limited images.
- Simplebooklet. Create documents of different sizes.
- Storyjumper. Create your own book.
- Storymaker. Simple and free library-sponsored tool
- Tikatok. Try for free.
- ZimmerTwins. Both still and animation.
- ZooBurst. Create your own popup book.
Timelines provide an engaging way to explore history. Online tools allow uses to create timelines with text, images, audio, video, and links.
- Tikitoki. Provides tools for creating a timeline with text, images, audio, video, and links.
Video and Animation
Whether creating a short animation to embed in a website or editing a video to be shared on YouTube, there are many options. Unfortunately, many of these tools have limited, free options.
- GoAnimate. Try the free version, then consider the subscription option for more resources. Check out the school version and the lesson gallery.
- Domo Animate. Simple and easy to use.
- Animoto. Combine photos, video clips, music, and audio into great multimedia projects. Free version contains only 30 seconds of video. Great for very small projects.
- Masher. Combine video, music, and photos.
- YouTube Video Editor. Combine and edit videos from YouTube.
- Creaza MovieEditor. Online editor.
- Vizlingo. Enter some words and choose images or clips to go with the words to create a short video.
- YouTube Create Videos. Provides a great list of online video makers
- Turtlepond Video Maker. Use existing video to create a short movie.
Video sharing has become popular for all ages.
- Vimeo. Upload videos.
- Vine. Use for very short videos.
- YouTube. Effective for high school and college, but consider using the education version.
Web Page Creators
Although many online vendors provide free tools for building web pages, Weebly continues to be the most popular.
- Weebly. They have a nice education version.
Word Cloud Creators
Want to add a fun word cloud to a project? Try one of the following tools.
Create a list of "go to" online tools that work for you that you feel confident sharing. List a dozen of your favorite online tools.
From children to seniors, people use a wide range of social media tools. Many of these are also useful information sources. A few examples are listed below.
Blog and Microblog Creators
Use the following tools for creating blogs and microblogs.
Use the following tools for organizing and sharing websites and other online resources.
Data, Statistics, and Visualization
Use the following tools for exploring data and statistics in a visual way.
- Public Data Explorer.
- Regional Explorer.
- World Bank Data.
Use the following tools for connecting with others.
Read Richardson, Rebecca; Vance, Candace; Price, Elizabeth & Henry, Jeffrey (2013). A mightier pin: creating a credible reference library on Pinterest at Murray State University. Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 18(3-4), 247-264.
Explore social media tools. Select one to examine in-depth. Discuss how it might be used in a library to share information sources with a particular audience. Why do you think it would be effective for this audience? Provide a link or a screen capture of an example.
A wide range of images can be used as information sources. Digital imaging is the process of creating images from physical objects.
Charts and Graphs. Numeric data are often displayed on charts and graphs. Search back through some of the data and statistics websites explored earlier in the semester for lots of examples.
Cartoons. Cartoons can be found across disciplines with religious, political, environmental, and business themes.
The Library of Congress houses the largest collection of editorial cartoons in the world, but like other image collections it lacks the indexing required to make it easy to access. Chris Landbeck (2012) notes that this lack of effective indexing is a systemic problem with editorial cartoons and that distinct content of editorial cartoons make them difficult to describe.
- British Cartoon Archive
- Cartoons from The New York Times
- Darryl Cagle’s Professional Cartoonist’s Index
- Dr. Seuss Went to War
- Editorial Cartoonists
- Editorial Cartoons by the Library of Congress
- Pulitzer Prize Editorial Cartooning
Diagrams. Diagrams are a simplified visual representation of an object, concept, or idea.
Illustrations. Drawings, paintings, sketches, and etchings are examples of illustrations. These visual representations are intended to communicate an informational or artistic message.
Infographics. Infographics are a great way to convey complex ideas in a highly visual way. An infographic is a graphic representation of information. It provides the "big picture" that might otherwise be difficult to understand by using visuals to quickly convey the key ideas.
Infographics are increasingly important ways of sharing information. Use Google Images to do a search for a topic and add the word infographic such as whales infographic.
- Google Images - search by topic such as tornado infographic.
The Learning Network at the New York Times did a nice series on teaching with Infographics:
- Teaching with Infographics: Places to Start
- Teaching with Infographics: Social Studies
- Teaching with Infographics: English
- Teaching with Infographics: Science and Health
- Data Visualized
Explore lots of examples:
- Cool InfoGraphics
- Data Visualization
- Flowing Data
- Good Transparency
- Hipmunk Flight Search
- I Love Infographics
- Infographics Showcase
- Joe Lertola
- USA Today Snapshots
- Visual Economics
- Example (The Arts): 10 Most Expensive Works of Art, Hybrid Dance, Theatre Infographic, Broadway Facts, Importance of Being Earnst, Theatre Diagram, History Pop/Rock Music, Crayola Colors, Cubist/Abstract Art
- Example (English): What Does Meaningful Mean?, Analysis of On the Road, Is Print Dead?, Rise of e-books, E-books vs Real Books, Books to Read,Avenger's Family Tree, Most Expensive Books
- Example (World Languages): Language and Your Brain, Most Widely Spoken Languages, Language Families, World Language Families, Most Difficult Languages. Look for infographics in your language areas. They are great for translation activities because they are graphics and students can't use the translators. Examples: Cradle of Dance
- Example (Social Studies): ECORNomics, Travel and Tourism, The Lottery Economy, An Old City, Immigrant Labor, Illegal Immigrants, How Our Laws Are Made, Where Americans Are Moving, Visualizing Human Migration, America's Poor, On the Rise: Poverty in America, The State of the United States, What Americans Love and Hate About the U.S.A, Where We Volunteer, Volunteer Portrait, Volunteers, California Vs the World, Average Age of Congressman, The True Size of Africa, Napoleon
- Example (Science): Big Brother: Satellites Orbiting Earth, Clearing the Air, Deep Water Horizon, Hungary's Toxic Sludge Spill, Earthquakes, Greening Walmart: Is the Giant's Footprint Shrinking?, Water Footprint, Poopnomics: The Economy of Human Waste, Beetle, Seven Summits Infographics,Where Is the Oil? Where is the Silver? Who Owns the World's Gold?, The Digital Dump, Throw Away Culture, Hidden Toxic Waste, Colorado River is Drying Up, The Tongue, Space Exploration, Where will the next volcano erupt? Water, Water Economics, World's Water Content, How Clean Is Your Tap Water? Hidden Toxic Waste, Bee Dance, Beaufort Comic
- Example (Technology): Home Improvements for Geek, Get a Grip, Social Web Involvement, How the Digital Revolution Changed Our World,Conversations in Social Media, Darwinian Evolution Photoshop, Small Businesses, History of Computing, History of Audio, QR Codes, Evolution of Programming Languages, If Social Media were Superheroes, BIt-by-Bit
Example (Math): graphics with potent for math: Speed Demon, Fish Stocking, Cruise Ship Infographic, Fourth of July by the Numbers, How to Beat Super Mario, Soccer's Slim Salaries, Talking Turkey, How Much Our Pets Cost in a Lifetime
- Example (Business): One Hundred Years of Consumer Spending, Financial Habits of America's Youth, Working Week, ECORNomics, Infographic Resume, Small Businesses, Women in Business, History of Computing, Evolution of Programming Languages
Read Infographics & Inquiry: Practical Ideas for School Libraries by Annette Lamb.
Think about the many ways that infographics can be used in information seeking activities.
Maps and Satellite Images. From Google Maps to historical map collections, maps are an excellent way to visualize a place.
- General Resources
- Topical Maps
- Historical Maps
- Mapping Tools and Interactives
Photographs. From historical photographs to up-to-date images in the news, many online sources provide image collections. The IUPUI Image Collection is part of the Ruth Lilly Special Collections & Archives focusing on IUPUI's history and development. Go to the Digital Resources for a master list of image collections.
Symbols. Semiotics is the science of signs and symbols. Symbols are visuals used to represent ideas, concepts, or other abstractions.
- Subscription Databases
- AP Images. AP Images provides a sensory journey of photographs, audio sound bites, graphics and text spanning over 160 years of history. Available through IUPUI.
- Associated Press Collections Online from Gale. Available through IUPUI.
- Picture Post Historical Archive from Gale. Available through IUPUI.
- Open Databases
- Organization Databases
- LIFE Photo Archive from Google
- Flickr Collections
- Internet Archive Collections
- State Image Collections
For many more ideas, go to USA.gov Government Photos and Images.
Use niche search engines to find discipline-specific online sources.
Read Terras, Melissa (2009). Digital images. Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, 3rd Edition. Taylor and Francis.
Read Vaughan, Jason (April 201). Insights into The Commons on Flickr. portal: Library and the Academy, 10(2), 185-214.
From famous speeches and animal sounds to music, audio can be an important information source.
Sound recordings might include recorded music, spoken word, and interviews. In addition, many events are audio recorded include sports, conferences, and news.
Many libraries and archives maintain digital collections of audio recordings. Examples include.
- Sound Archives from Boston Public Library
- Library of Congress: National Jukebox
- Library of Congress: Recorded Sound Reference Center
Multimedia: Video & Animation
You no longer need subscription databases and academic library resources to have access to video. Many websites provide excellent resources for free.
Yin Zhang and Athena Salaba (2012) studied the effectiveness of library systems for retrieving moving images. The researchers compared the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Film and Television Archive catalogue (UCLA-Cinema) and the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). They found that both systems are ahead of other library catalogues in supporting moving image retrieval. While the UCLA-Cinema has a particularly cataloguing record structure and interface, IMDb was noted for its “rich links, work-level records, record content, and cross-references.
Kanopy Video Streaming Service. Provides access to thousands of videos from major educational film producers and distributors in a wide variety of subject areas. Subject content includes education, communication, film studies, engineering, foreign languages, humanities, gender studies, sociology, psychology, health sciences, the arts and more. Kanopy also includes The Criterion Collection, California Newsreel, DEFA German Film, Media Education Foundation, Roland Collection, First Run Features, Green Planet Films, Stenhouse, Medcom, Michael Blackwood, Kino Lorber. Also included are PBS films from American Experience, Frontline, and NOVA. Available through IUPUI.
Overdrive is known for its ebooks, but there's also an audiobook and video component.
Some libraries subscribe to other video services such as Netflix.
Open Access Video
Although doing a general search of YouTube can be effective, it's also important to make use of the YouTube channels. Many government agencies, non-profits, and company channels are available in addition to individual channels.
Read Otto, Jane Johnson (March 2014). University faculty describe their use of moving images in teaching and learning and their perceptions of the library’s role in that use. College & Research Libraries, 75(2), 115-144. Available: http://crl.acrl.org/content/75/2/115.full.pdf+html
Most of this course has focused on specific types of information and information sources that contain that information. Website resources are tough to categorize. From corporate websites to nonprofit pages, web-based resources can be extremely useful in identifying information.
Read Frazier, Barbaraella (2013). Niche search engines: expanding information discovery. The Reference Librarian, 54(2), 168-174.
Some of the most useful sources of information come from websites. Mine "best of" lists for favorites in each content area.
- Common Sense Media - good choices for youth
- Great Websites for Kids from ALSC-ALA
- MARS Best Reference Websites
- New York Public Library's Best of the Web
- SIRS WebSelect. Intended for beginning learners and researchers in grades K-12, this database focuses on quality website resources for youth.
Landbeck, Chris (2012). Access to editorial cartoons: the state of the art. In D.R. Neal, Knowledge and Information: Indexing and Retrieval of Non-Text Information. Water de Gruyter. Available: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy.ulib.uits.iu.edu/lib/iupui/detail.action?docID=10634523
Menard, Elaine (2012). Multilingual taxonomy development for ordinary images: issues and challenges. In D.R. Neal, Knowledge and Information: Indexing and Retrieval of Non-Text Information. Water de Gruyter. Available: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy.ulib.uits.iu.edu/lib/iupui/detail.action?docID=10634523
Neal, Diane Rasmussen (2012). Knowledge and Information: Indexing and Retrieval of Non-Text Information. Water de Gruyter. Available: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy.ulib.uits.iu.edu/lib/iupui/detail.action?docID=10634523
Rorissa, Abebe; Neal, Diane Rasmussen; Muckell, Jonathan; & Chaucer, Alex (2012). An exploration of tags assigned to geotagged still and moving images in Flickr. In D.R. Neal, Knowledge and Information: Indexing and Retrieval of Non-Text Information. Water de Gruyter. Available: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy.ulib.uits.iu.edu/lib/iupui/detail.action?docID=10634523
Zhang, Yin & Salaba, Athena (2012). A user study of moving image retrieval systems and system design implications for library catalogues. In D.R. Neal, Knowledge and Information: Indexing and Retrieval of Non-Text Information. Water de Gruyter. Available: http://site.ebrary.com.proxy.ulib.uits.iu.edu/lib/iupui/detail.action?docID=10634523