Apps for Librarians

Using the Best Mobile Technology to Educate, Create, and Engage

Apps for Librarians

Libraries Unlimited
September 2014
180 pages, paperback, $45
ISBN 978-1-61069-530-5

Buy on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or direct from publisher.

Kindle ebook
Google play ebook
eISBN 978-1-61069-531-2, $36

Mobile apps are empowering for people of all ages and abilities

As librarians and educators, we are passionate about learning and access to information for all. Contrary to the popular idea that apps are only useful for “consumption,” the best mobile apps are being used effectively as tools to enable learning and knowledge creation.

Got tablets in your library, but no time to find the best apps?

Apps are everywhere these days and it can be overwhelming to know where to start. You probably have questions like these:

  • How do I find and use the best quality apps?
  • Which apps will help me in my professional work?
  • Which apps should libraries recommend to their communities?

This book will give you a solid foundation, along with inspiration. You’ll learn:

  • which quality apps have become “core” and how to use them
  • how mobile devices are enabling better learning
  • how mobile apps are improving life for those with special needs
  • how to keep up with new apps and find quality reviews
  • how to review an app, including a checklist of what to include
  • inspiring examples of how libraries are using apps in creative ways.

An opportunity for librarians

When you become an app expert, you become the go-to person for your community—evaluating, reviewing and recommending the very best apps for knowledge creation and active learning.

Become an app expert for your community.

About the Author

Nicole Hennig

Nicole Hennig is an independent user experience professional, helping librarians and educators effectively use mobile technologies.

She worked for the MIT Libraries for 14 years as head of user experience and web manager. She has won several awards, including the MIT Libraries Infinite Mile Award for Innovation and Creativity.

She teaches the popular online course, Apps for Librarians, and is the author of Best Apps for Academics: Using the Best Apps for Your Academic Work.


“Hennig compiles here a practical guide on mobile apps that hits the target audience of “librarians from all types of institutions.” This well-organized, thorough list, confidently navigates the cluttered world of mobile apps….. Verdict: An essential reference tool for any librarian looking to stay relevant.”
Paul Stenis, Pepperdine Univ. Library. Full review in Library Journal, Jan. 2015


“Nicole Hennig’s book begins with a simple yet important question: Why is it important for librarians to become ‘app-literate’?”
Brian Roby, full review in Italian and English on the Librarea blog


Information that has changed since the book was printed.


“A resource brimming with appealing mobile applications, Hennig’s text holds promise for libraries still venturing into high-tech learning. Early on, the author notes that expanding technology puts a new spin on librarianship with opportunities to engage patrons one-on-one or in workshops.”
Mary Ellen Snodgrass, excerpt from review in VOYA, February 2015.


“Apps for Showcasing Special Collections” and “Apps for Going Beyond the Library Catalog” give suggestions for enhancing your clients’ library experience… This book has it all. Recommended for all librarians.
Micha Ann Owens, grad student, School of Information Studies, McGill University. Full review in Library Innovation.


“I would recommend this book for purchase because it focuses on particular categories of apps that librarians should be comfortable using and recommending, presents a helpful rubric for evaluating apps, and serves as a good source of ideas for library programming opportunities that incorporate apps for mobile devices.”
Lisa Gonzalez, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, IL
Full review in Theological Librarianship
Table of Contents

  • Why a book?
  • Who this book is for
  • Platforms included (iOS and Android)
  • Conventions used
  • What this book doesn’t cover
  • Companion website

1. Mobile is here to stay

  • Statistics on mobile app use
  • Natural user interfaces (NUI) vs. graphical user interfaces (GUI)
  • Mobile devices are enabling better learning experiences
  • Mobile apps are improving life for those with special needs
  • The “digital divide” and mobile technologies
  • New roles for libraries and librarians

2. Apps for reading

  • Reading ebooks
  • Downloading and reading free ebooks
  • Reading library ebooks
  • Access to braille and talking books for the blind
  • Reading and annotating documents
  • Saving webpages for reading offline
  • Reading news via RSS
  • Reading magazines and newspapers
  • Finding book reviews
  • Sharing your reading
  • Interactive multi-touch book apps

3. Apps for productivity

  • Managing files in the cloud
  • Managing passwords securely
  • Creating to-do lists
  • Managing calendars
  • Accessing your desktop remotely
  • Printing wirelessly
  • Accessories: keyboards, stands, and styluses

4. Apps for research & reference

  • Dictionaries
  • Wikipedia clients
  • Private search engine
  • Specialized search engine
  • Unit conversion
  • Mapping
  • Mapping in 3D
  • Language dictionaries
  • Language learning
  • News publications
  • Movie listings
  • Movie ratings and metadata
  • Specialized reference
  • App reviews
  • Subscription databases
  • Finding open access articles

5. Apps for taking notes and writing

  • Taking and organizing notes
  • Handwriting & drawing
  • Voice & lecture recording
  • Speech recognition
  • Scanning
  • Designing posters, newsletters, reports, and working with Microsoft Office documents
  • Managing citations and bibliographies
  • Mind mapping
  • Text expanders and macros
  • Concentration aids
  • Journaling

6. Apps for multimedia

  • Viewing and studying art
  • Virtual museum visits
  • Drawing
  • Creating art
  • Creating comic books
  • Making photo collages
  • Specialized camera tool
  • Editing photos
  • Identifying music
  • Listening to radio stations worldwide
  • Listening to streaming music
  • Creating and composing music
  • Creating beautiful, musical sounds
  • Playing virtual instruments
  • Playing music with others
  • Watching videos
  • Streaming videos from your computer to your mobile device
  • Listening to educational lectures
  • Listening to audio and video podcasts
  • Editing movies

7. Apps for social media

  • Twitter and other social media updates
  • Scheduling your social media updates
  • Managing Facebook pages on the go
  • Editing your blog
  • Sharing photos with filters
  • Sharing and organizing your photos

8. Apps for communication

  • Audio and video calls over the Internet
  • One-on-one or group video chats
  • Instant messaging
  • Free, cross-platform text messaging

9. Apps for content creation & curation

  • Creating presentations
  • Presenting PowerPoint slides
  • Creating simple, beautiful presentations
  • Creating interactive books easily
  • Creating interactive books for Apple’s iBookstore
  • Screencasting and interactive whiteboards
  • Creating designs for 3D printing
  • Curating web content
  • Wirelessly show the display of mobile devices on a large screen
  • Mirror your mobile devices on a Mac or Windows PC

10. Apps for showcasing special collections

  • Showcasing special collections
  • Viewing rare manuscripts
  • Photo exhibit with walking tour
  • Showcasing exhibits

11. Apps for going beyond the library catalog

  • Barcode scanning
  • Kiosks
  • Mobile library catalog
  • Augmented reality
  • Location-based checkins
  • Crowdfunding

12. Apps for professional development

  • Resume creation
  • Creating your personal social media site and making connections with colleagues
  • Searching for jobs and networking
  • Tracking information about conferences
  • Scanning and saving business cards
  • Attending webinars

13. Elements of app-literacy

  • Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines
  • Mobile device capabilities and features
  • Jailbreaking: what librarians should know
  • Apple’s accessibility features for mobile devices
  • Reviewing apps: a checklist

14. Further resources

  • Ideas for using mobile apps in your library
  • How to keep up
  • Books
  • Blogs and websites
  • Articles

15. End matter

  • Glossary of terms
  • Alphabetical list of apps
Become an app expert for your community.