Free technologies libraries should be using.

There are a lot of free applications and software you can use in your daily life. Here is a list of some of the major free technologies that everyone could be using in their own libraries.



1. Mail Chimp

This is a fantastic email list manager application that will let you store patron contact information and social networking profiles as well as create robust mailing campaigns that can be deployed whenever you schedule them. I use this free program to contact patrons about upcoming webinars, events, and important news about the library. It will allow you to 12,000 emails a month for free. My favorite feature of this application is the reporting functionality which will let you see exactly who opened your email, what links they clicked on, etc.

2. Zoho Creator

This free database creator application enables you to set up 2 free databases and manage them. I’ve used this at many libraries I’ve worked in to create Reference Statistics Databases, and I continue to use it today. It’s easy-to-use, drag and drop functionality will let you set up a new database in minutes. You can read about how to create a reference statistics database through my earlier post, or just copy the one I created and customize it since Zoho also lets you share the applications you create. I’ve also used it to create archival databases.

3. PBWorks

This is a free wiki software application which will let you set up a collaborative workspace in minutes. I’ve been using PB wikis for more than 6 years for many different purposes, all of which you can check out in my presentation on How to Create Your Own Knowledge Base. They make excellent intranets and I’ve set them up for a number of different libraries.

4. Animoto

This is a free video creation application which will create a video out of your photos in minutes and allow you to add a music track. I’ve used this free video creation app in a number of ways, most recently to create an engaging video of our services we offer at the NYLI library. I can imagine a million ways that libraries can make use of this free app. (Please share your link in the comments if your library has created an Animoto video).


This is a free, open source electronic resources management (ERM) application. It allows you to set up records for all of the databases you subscribe to, organize and store licenses, keep track of expiration dates, contact and company information. It will even send you email alerts when a license is due for expiration.

6. QR Codes

These easy-to-create 2D barcodes can hold all kinds of information about your library including your website url, text reference number, mailing address, or all of the above! If you aren’t using QR codes in your library yet, you’ll want to check out some of the many ways libraries are using these free tools.

7. Dropbox

This free hosted storage application will let you keep up to 2GB worth of files in the cloud without charge. I use this amazing program to store and access all of my important files and we use it in the library to share large files with colleagues and library patrons.

Photo credit: International Center of Photography

Via OEDb