Great LibTech Insights Picks for Summer Break

Tools, books, and projects for the summer

A librarian wearing sunglasses

We know the “break” half of summer break is mostly aspirational, but hopefully with the end of the spring semester, your workload has relaxed a bit. This week, we thought we’d revisit some pieces we ran during the semester that are best enjoyed with a little more free time to explore and learn. Some pieces suggest what could make manageable summer projects for you or a small team, and others introduce tools to play around with so you have one more item in your toolkit. All will keep your mind curious and sharp for when the fall semester comes back around.

⚔️ “AI Performance Testing: Comparing AI Chatbots with Chatbot Arena”

An important component of building AI literacy is knowing what tools are out there and how they compare with one another. Rachel Hendrick and Gary Price explore Chatbot Arena in this quick video. This useful tool pits AI chatbots against each other so you can compare their outputs. Is Claude better than Gemini at answering research questions? Does Copilot write better emails than ChatGPT? If you need an introduction to a scholar’s body of work, which bot gives you the best overview and citations (or which is the worst)? Chatbot Arena provides an easy interface for comparing results and learning more about the differences between these tools.

🥥 “Coconut Library Tool: Democratizing Textual Analysis for Everyone!”

Data mining and textual analysis have received a lot of attention in recent years, but getting started can be an intimidating prospect. Crissandra George, however, introduces a cool new tool, the Coconut Library Tool, that doesn’t require any coding knowledge and is super user-friendly. In her post, she outlines the step-by-step process for using this tool, gives some examples of how you can use it, and shows off some of its impressive results. Block off an hour or two, get some coffee, and play around with data.

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📫 “Crafting a Great Courtesy Notice: Email Formatting Tips”

One of the primary ways that libraries communicate with patrons is through courtesy emails, overdue reminders, and billing notices. These emails are usually automated, and so they sometimes escape reflection and revision. Robin Camille Davis brings them to the forefront in this excellent guide to improving your library’s emails. She stresses the importance of a good subject line, a non-accusatory tone, and a little bit of friendliness. Improving your library’s email communications could make a very easy and rewarding summer project your patrons will appreciate.

🏳️‍🌈 “Online Tools to Leverage for Heritage and Identity Month Digital Displays”

Librarians often like to use commemorative months to acknowledge members of their communities and connect all to their many resources. Mateo Caballero and Jeremy Zimmett review a few tools for creating dynamic displays for promoting your library’s collections and working toward DEI goals. Their post contains examples of promotional materials and interactive displays you can create with these tools, including digital bookshelves. If you get started today, you can create a rich display for Disability Pride Month in July!

📚 “A Reading List for Algorithmic Bias”

Of course we were going to have a reading list in this post! Everyone knows that summer is a good time for catching up on your reading list and discovering new books. Marcella Fredriksson offers a quick overview of the best works on algorithmic bias to read. Generative AI has made algorithmic bias into a hot topic, but algorithms structure far more than that. These books outline the problems with our current algorithmic environment, which recreates bias, circulates misinformation, and harvests data, and look for potential solutions. Perfect for the beach (or maybe a well-air-conditioned room on a hot day)!

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