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Technology Productivity and Creativity Tools

Learning Objectives
• Apply technology tools and resources to library management.
• Define productivity and creativity tools and provide examples of how they are used by library and information professionals.
• Define cloud-based productivity tools.
• Define file hosting, cloud storage, and synchronization services.
• Discuss the pros and cons of cloud computing.
• Differentiate between local, desktop applications and web-based, cloud-based applications.
• Identify document preparation tools used to generate portable files.
• Identify utilities for file compression.

Library and information professionals apply technology tools in all aspects of library management.

Whether creating a financial report for a board meeting or video book trailers as part of a library promotion, library and information professionals are constantly using productivity and creativity application software in their work.

Productivity Applications

workerYou're probably already familiar with tools software Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

A productivity application is a piece of software used to increase efficiency by helping a user create written communications, organize information, calculate data, present ideas, or other functions.

Skills in using these tools are essential for today’s busy professional.

Similar to productivity tools, creativity applications are pieces of software used to assist professionals in developing creative works such as photographs, fliers, or videos.

Cloud-Based Productivity Tools

cloudCloud computing involves accessing online software, tools, and data storage.

What users need is provided just when it is needed. Users access applications from the "cloud" of options available on the Internet.

Software becomes a subscription service rather than a physical product. Rather than purchasing an expensive software package that is housed on a personal or library web server, the resource is available online.

Cloud-based software may be purchased through a subscription. Or, it may be available free through an organization or with advertising through a company.

Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Flickr are popular examples of cloud-based services.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is important because it's a change in how people think about applications and data storage.

Emphasis shifts from using a computer with emphasize on data and application storage to devices that help users access remote data and applications.

Watch the YouTube video Sharing in Google Docs.

Cloud Storage

A number of companies now offer file storage and synchronization services.

Cloud storage is a service that allows users to upload and storage large volumes of data. This is particularly useful when files are too big to send by e-mail. Features of many services include options for public, semi-private, and private storage areas.

Users access the service through a web-based application programming interface (API) or a desktop application.

Most services permit a wide range of file formats. These files are then available, anywhere, anytime.


Cloud-based Storage Systems

Most services provide a basic level of service for free, then charge for additional space.

Dropbox was the first popular file hosting service. They provide space for free. Then, provide the option for additional paid space.

IUPUI provides the Box at IU service where students can store files. This flexible storage service is a great place for resources that are too large for Oncourse.

The most common problem with Box is remembering to set the share options. Go to your list of files in your IU Box. On the right side of each item it says, SHARE. Check out the options and choose OPEN or ANYONE IN COMPANY if you want classmates to be able to read your files.

To learn more about the options and using box, go to the Box Knowledge page.

Try It!
Set up your Box and try uploading a file. Set the SHARE options so others can see your document.

Cloud-based Services

icloudThere are a number of cloud-based services that provide a wide range of options and tools. Three popular services include:

Amazon Cloud Drive is a service that provides cloud storage including media files such as audiobooks, music, and video.

Apple’s iCloud is popular with Mac, iPad, and iPhone users. Cloud-based applications including Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are available along with the option to store files.

Google Drive includes cloud storage, file sharing, and collaborative editing using the popular Google Docs office suite.

Pros and Cons of Cloud Use

The big advantage of cloud computing is that someone else handles software development and updates. This is also the downside. When the Internet is down or your provider goes under, you're stuck without your application and sometimes without your data. It's essential to plan ahead. Be sure that you've backed up data and can transfer files between formats.

An advantage of cloud-computing is that you don’t need to worry about software updates or having lots of space available on your computer or mobile device.

Another advantage of cloud-computing is the option for easy sharing and collaboration. With most systems it’s possible to share with the general public, with individuals, or keep information private.

Watch the This is Google Drive video from YouTube.

Local versus Cloud-based Applications

cloudLocal tools are software or apps available on a particular computer or other device. Although these tools may allow file sharing, they aren’t designed for multiple simultaneous users. On the other hand, local tools are generally more secure.

Cloud-based productivity tools are applications served through a web browser or mobile app. They often allow multiple, simultaneous users to collaborate on a single document. Documents are generally stored on a remote server, although they can generally also be downloaded and printed.

Some companies now provide a hybrid approach to software. For instance, Microsoft Office has some options that connect local and cloud-based versions of their software.

Document Preparation Tools

In today’s collaborative world, professionals are often sharing documents. However, not everyone owns the same software making data sharing a problem.

Two approaches can be taken to make sharing more realistic.

First, online collaborative tools can be used allowing multiple, simultaneous users. These cloud-based tools allow users to share their documents with individuals or make them available to the public. Google Docs is an excellent example of this type of tool. Word processing documents, spreadsheets, and presentations can all be shared using this online tool. The documents themselves are shared in the “cloud” for easy access by users. People at various locations using different types of technology hardware can all edit the same document.

Second, document preparation tools allow documents to be converted into files that can be shared without owning a particular software program. Unfortunately, these documents are normally read-only. Or, they may provide limited editing such as a form that can be completed by end users. The advantage of this approach is that end users don’t need to own software to enjoy the creative work. In addition, the producer doesn’t need to worry about the original work being edited without permission.

Software and Document Preparation

Many software packages provide document preparation options in the form of an export tool.

For instance, Apple Pages allows users to export documents as PDF, Word, RTF, plain text, or ePub file formats.

Microsoft PowerPoint provides a SHOW option that allows people without PowerPoint to be able to play a presentation.

When sharing with others, it’s important to save files as PDF because the end user may not be able to read your document if they don’t own the particular software package you used to create the document.

The most common example is Microsoft Publisher. If you’re creating a library newsletter it’s essential that you export as a PDF. Mac users and many Windows users can’t read raw Publisher files.

Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat is probably the best known document preparation tool. It allows users to view, create, manipulate, print and manage Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

The PDF file format can be read on most computers and hand-held devices. One of the most useful features of Adobe Acrobat is the ability to create interactive forms. Many government forms use this format. Try creating your on form.

For help, go to Lynda and search for Adobe Acrobat under the Software section. Choose the Essential Training and Creating Forms.

Try It!
Download from IUWare. Explore options for creating, combining, resizing, and managing PDF files.

File Compression

compressionFile compressions allows users to make a large file into a transportable file of a small size. The most common use of file compression is software downloads.

The most common file is a ZIP file. Software is used to both compress and expand files.

StuffIt Expander is a tool for the Mac OS that can easily expand and decode files including 30 archive file formats.

If you have a Mac, go to IUware to download StuffIt Expander in the Utilities section.

Software is also available for Windows. WinZip is a commercial tool for file compression. 7-Zip is a free tool.

If you have Windows, go to IUware to download 7-Zip in the Utilities section.


A wide range of technology tools are used by library and information science professionals.

A productivity application is a piece of software used to increase efficiency by helping a user create written communications, organize information, calculate data, present ideas, or other functions.

Similar to productivity tools, creativity applications are pieces of software used to assist professionals in developing creative works such as photographs, fliers, or videos.

Increasingly, professionals are using cloud-based productivity tools and storage services.

Rather than sharing raw software files, it’s important to use document preparation tools such as Adobe Acrobat to create PDF files that can be easily shared. File compression tools are sometimes used for converting large files into smaller files for sharing.


| eduscapes | IUPUI Online Courses | Contact Us | 2014 Annette Lamb (Adapted from earlier s401 materials)

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