Curated news and ideas
for youth services.
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Happy Thanksgiving week to the Americans and happy Tuesday to everyone else. This week I'm going to share some of my favorite tools with you. We'll be back next week with the regular edition. I'm re-using a few things I've written elsewhere as most of you won't have seen them before. As always I love to hear feedback and suggestions for content at or @BethReads on Twitter. 

New sign-up page at our own domain: Think Outside the Stacks. Tell your friends ;-)

Tools I'm Thankful For:



Pocket lets you save web pages to read later. It's available on the web and as an app for iOS and Android. When you come across an article, web page, or video you want to read or watch at another time just use the bookmarklet to save it to your Pocket account.

Later, you’ll just pull up your Pocket queue on whatever devices you're using and the information is ready to go. Your Pocket queue is searchable and taggable. Pocket also exports to a wide variety of services for sharing.

What the Pocket queue screen looks like:

Pocket is extremely useful:

  • When someone shares a link with you that you can’t read right away because you’re on the reference desk or it isn’t work related.  
  • As a great way to save things your colleagues are sharing on social media
  • As a quick way to separate the useful things in your RSS feeds. Many feed readers and Twitter clients are set up to easily export to Pocket.
Canva is an easy to use drag and drop graphic design program.They have a ton of templates you can use for things like social media graphics, posters, and fliers.There are some free photos and elements while many others are available for only a dollar each. There are several examples of how librarians use it on Teen Services Underground. I used it for our new header and for blog graphics. 

It's true that most lists are kept in my Bullet Journal, but when it came to managing my reading related lists I just got sick of re-writing my Read and Want to Read lists. I've used GoodReads, but editing and re-ordering lists is clunky and the random 1 and 5-star reviews make it less useful than ever. Wunderlist, on the other hand, is free, syncs across all my devices, and lets me reorder lists and move things between lists with a drag of my finger.

Bullet Journal
If you’re like me you are regularly trying new ways to keep track of appointments, tasks, notes, and lists. I’ve tried so many different systems and apps, but nothing has worked as well as a notebook and pen. 

All you need to get started is a notebook and a pen. Many people use Moleskine notebooks, but if you're just trying it out I suggest the Yoobi journals at Target for about $6.00. The have nice paper, sturdy covers, and you can experiment without worrying about the cost. 

If you’re new to bullet journaling I suggest you read Kelly’s post on how she uses her bullet journal.  A Pinterest or Instagram search will give you a million ideas as well.  All of these examples will give you an idea of how you can bullet journal in a way that works for you.

Don't feel like you have to be super artistic or spend a long time doing layouts. My bullet journal is basically pages and pages of lists and notes. 

The speed at which I can jot something down in my journal and the ways that I can keep tweaking it to work for me are why I’ve stuck with bullet journal.

Email Newsletters

As you might imagine I'm a big fan of curated content delivered right to my inbox. This is a booming area, so whatever you are interested in there is probably a newsletter to go with it. Here are my current non-book/library favorites: 

Next Draft
A human edited round-up of ten interesting news items every day with some color commentary. 

Two Bossy Dames
Culture mavens and fellow librarians Margaret and Sophie bring you the best in culture, recommendations, and commentary every week. Start with them, and then follow all their guest hosts as well. 

Austin Kleon
Every week artist, poet, and writer Austin Kleon sends out a list of 10 things including new art, writing, and interesting links straight to your inbox. 

Daily Water Cooler
A morning news roundup in business, politics, sports, culture, and more. 

The Rec Center
Fandom related articles and fanfiction recommendations. More of a personal one, but knowing what fandoms and ships people are interested in never hurts. 
The Miracle Morning
I am not usually a reader of self-help/personal development books but in looking for a better way to manage my time I stumbled across The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod and it is changing my life. You should read the whole thing, but the main concept is that by establishing a morning routine you can set yourself up to have a great day and accomplish your goals.

The recommended morning routine includes silence (meditation and/or prayer), affirmations, visualization, exercise, reading, and writing/journaling. The book gives you plenty of ways to customize  what you do and for how long you do it. There is a busy Miracle Morning community for ideas as well. You can do it in as little as six minutes. Starting the day with some focus and self-care means I'm getting a lot more accomplished during the day as well. I highly recommend you give it a chance. 

Start Your Day Off Right With the SAVERS Morning Routine (via LifeHacker)
My Morning Routine and Why You Need One Too (via Boho Berry) gives a good overview including some tips and resources to help you get started. 

I'll be writing a more in-depth Miracle Morning for Librarians post for Teen Services Underground in December so keep an eye out! I'll include a link in a future newsletter when it's up. 
Pomodoro Technique 

If you are lucky enough to get off-desk time, or any time, to work uninterrupted then you know you need to make the most of it. That’s when the Pomodoro Technique can help. It’s a relatively simple system of focused work time broken up by breaks. 

1. Choose a task to be accomplished, preferably already broken down into actionable sub-tasks.

2. Set a timer for 25 minutes.You can use a physical kitchen timer, your phone’s clock, or one of the many Pomodoro specific apps. Marinara Timer offers a web-based timer you can use in a spare browser window.

3. Work on the task until time is up, then put a check on your sheet of paper. During this time work only on the task. Do not check your email, do not go for a cup of coffee, do not stop to tell a co-worker something. If it’s something important jot it down and come back to it later. Spend those 25 minutes only on the task at hand.

4. Take a short break, five minutes works for most users. Don’t worry if it’s not your official break time, you can just do a different type of work for those five minutes. Check your work email, walk around and refill book displays, or pull supplies for a program. Just give your brain a break for the work you were focused on before.

5. After every 4 “pomodoros” (sets of 25 minutes + break) take a longer break. This is a good time for your actual break, lunch, or likely the end of the quiet time you have to get something done.

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