41 Useful Websites for School Librarians

41 Useful Websites for School Librarians - School Librarians will find these 41 quality Websites very helpful to gather information & ideas on professional development, library advocacy, library lessons & activities, reading promotion, and educational technology. #NoSweatLibrarySchool Librarians accumulate dozens of great websites as we read education and library listservs, bloggers, Facebook group comments, and Twitter feeds. The hard part is trying to keep these sites organized in a logical manner.

I’ve tried numerous curation tools, but for personal use I find a simple browser folder—Library & Librarian—with topical subfolders is faster than an external site for storing and using my most useful sites. Alas, always in a hurry, I often just save a URL to the main folder, so I have a lo-o-ong list of uncategorized sites to organize into topical subfolders.

While I do that, I’m sharing out these valuable resources on professional development & advocacy, library lessons & activities, reading promotion, and technology, accompanied by short annotations on why they’re helpful. So here they are: 41 Useful Websites for School Librarians.


AASL eCOLLAB51 Free Webinars from the American Association of School Librarians on professional learning topics. 

Library Impact Studies Infographica compact advocacy tool from Library Research Service. Available for print & online viewing.

Library and Information Science EncyclopediaIf you encounter library terminology in your readings, but may not be quite sure what it is, consult this brief list for an explanation! From internationally-known blogger librarian Salman Haider.

Mackin CommunityBook vendor Mackin’s blog with resources for libraries & classrooms, makerspaces, and professional learning. Add this site to your feed!

Project ConnectSponsored by Follett, this site offers guidance for the Future Ready Librarians framework, including PD and teaching ideas.

School Librarians: Why we still need them!article by Jamie McKenzie with some strong support to use for advocacy.

School Libraries WorkWhile you can still download the 2008 version directly, the newer 2016 version wants you to submit your email address and other info. Still, a valuable document to use for advocacy and justifying (alas, we need to) having a certified School Librarian in a school library.

Top School Library BlogsA list maintained by Laura McPherson with 50 librarian bloggers you can add to your blog feed!

Virtual Middle School LibraryWith dozens of links to useful resources for school librarians, this site, maintained by Linda Bertland, retired school librarian, has an especially valuable resource page for professional learning.

Web JunctionA free learning site from OCLC Research offers self-paced courses, webinar recordings on a variety of topics related to library services and management.

What Works Clearinghouse (WWC)a U.S. Dept of Education website with research on programs, products, practices, and policies that answers the question “What works in education?”


AASL Best Websites for Teaching & LearningEvery year our national association picks, what they consider to be, websites of ” innovation, creativity, active participation, and collaboration. … free web-based sites that are user friendly.” What’s especially nice is the little icons that show which of our Shared Foundations each one addresses.

Bingo Cards & Word Searches are quick ways to engage students for reviewing content. Here are 3 sites that generate customized bingo cards on a 3×3, 4×4, or 5×5 grid: BingoBaker & ESLactivities both generate cards with words or graphics; MyFreeBingoCards has thematic backgrounds for words or numbers. WordSearchLab has already created searches, or create your own of any size and number of words.

5 Minute Lesson Plan Series37 different downloadable graphic templates to quickly create a lesson plan. Whatever your admin wants, you’ll probably find it here.

HyperDocs Interactive Content & MultimediaAs stated on the site: “The most difficult and time consuming part of creating a HyperDoc … is finding the content to engage your students in the learning process. I’ve curated several lists that I hope will help get your started.” There are a dozen categories with a varying number of websites with resources and tools.

Interactive Learning Menus (Choice Boards)Ideas for differentiated learning that give students a menu or choice of learning activities; can be part of a HyperDoc. From Shake Up Learning.

Makerspace Starter KitThe Daring Librarian, Gwyneth Jones, provides a list of great tools for starting a makerspace in your library.

Primary Source Setsthe Digital Public Library of America has more than 35 million digital resources including these curated collections on topics in history, literature, and culture, with teaching guides for class use.

Skype in the ClassroomMicrosoft’s FREE go-to source for Virtual Field Trips, Guest Speakers, classroom connections, and live collaboration projects. I first heard about this from Stony Evans, and think it’s one of the most engaging activities you can do with students.

Smithsonian Learning Labfree, interactive, easy-to-use tools using the millions of Smithsonian resources to adapt one of thousands of existing collections, or to create your own lessons, like digital research skills with built-in tools for creating & using proper citations.

Spruce Up Learning Centers w/ Tech – Tony Vincent’s blog post with lots of specific information and examples to make any learning station in your library that much better with technology.


Biblionasiumsort of a GoodReads for kids; free, protected site for ages 6-13 to encourage independent reading. Tools can create book reviews, reading logs, and personalized reading lists.

Classroom Libraries: Best apps for keeping trackWe Are Teachers blog post offers 6 apps teachers can use to keep track of their class books. Hey, they’re gonna have ’em, so we might as well support them…and they’ll love us for it and support the library even more! 

Librarians Lovenifty book talks and display ideas from secondary school librarians.

Library of Congress Center for the Booka rich resource for librarians with recommended books, author webcasts, book awards, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled.

The Online Books Page –  Plain website listing over 3 million free books on the Web, along with archives & indexes in languages around the world. This large database is maintained by a digital librarian at UPenn.

Social Justice BooksBooklists and other resources to help librarians build a diverse collection of titles and encourage a more culturally responsive reading experience for students.

State Award Reading ListsThis Simon & Schuster site has current Award Reading Lists from every state, along with curriculum, teaching, & reading group guides, themed collections, & reading levels. If you need labels for your State Award Reading List, they’re available as a customization in my Reading Promotion for ELA product at No Sweat Library, my TPT store. 

SYNC If you’ve never heard of this site, you are in for a treat. SYNC offers FREE audiobooks for teens every summer—2 complete audiobooks a week for 14 weeks. I always told students about it at their last library visit of the school year and provided the link and a QR code to the site.


AASL Best Apps for Teaching & Learning – As with the websites, AASL picks, what they consider to be, apps of “exceptional value to inquiry-based teaching and learning.” They also have little icons to show which of our Shared Foundations each addresses.

BEAM Chart MakerYes, we teach students how to make spreadsheet data graphs, like MS Excel, but this online app is quick & easy. Just choose the style, click the graph element, and fill in the information. Graphics like this can add so much to those end-of-grading-period library reports for principals & teachers. (If you don’t do that, this is a great way to get started!)

GooseChase EduFree and reasonably priced options to create educational scavenger hunts with mobile technology (IOS or Android app). Students (or teachers!) earn points by submitting a photo, video, or text.

Internet Archive Digital Library – Hundreds of millions of important webpages and media. Their Wayback Machine is a searchable database of 20+ years of web history.

Kathy Schrock’s Guide to EverythingIf you need information or guidance on educational technology, this is the place to go! Kathy has been blogging about edtech for more than 20 years and is still the best one-stop spot for general edtech info.

Media Literacy Educator CertificationDeveloped by PBS/KQED & Digital Promise, you can earn 8 media literacy micro-credentials to become a PBS Certified Media Literacy Educator.

Minecraft Education EditionIf you want to use Minecraft in your library, this site is the gateway to the education edition of the popular game. Special features for educators such as easy tutorials, classroom management tools, secure sign-in, classroom collaboration and tons of sample lessons, plus a global network of mentors and tech support.

100 Useful Websites for Educators and Students – With YA Books & More, Naomi Bates blogs about books, websites, and anything else a librarian might need. This page is a list of what she considers the most valuable website collection a librarian can have. It’s about 3 years old, but most of the links are still valid…and on my own “best” list!

Top 20 PowerPoint AlternativesPost from the Visme blog offers an open-minded examination of free & paid apps to use for presentations. Video demos are helpful. (Heavy content, allow time to load in browser.)

You may be wondering about sites for information literacy or subject areas. Those are also huge unorganized lists, so we’ll save them for future blog posts. For now, have fun looking these over and adding them to your browser bookmarks. If you have some bookmarked sites on these 4 topics you’d like to share, add them into the comments!

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“Embed” Features into a School Library Website

"Embed" Features into a School Library Website - A School Librarian can make the School Library Website truly useful to students and teachers by embedding elements from other Web sources. Here are some examples of how to offer valuable information in an inviting way. #NoSweatLibraryA library website is pretty standard for schools, but a School Librarian needs to ask, “Is our School Library Website truly useful to students and teachers?

I created my first school website in the mid 90s and included useful curriculum links for students and teachers. As The Web developed, I added more advanced features to my school library website that increased its value for viewers. One valuable addition has been embedded features from other web sources to support reading, research, library use, and communication outside the school library.


A popular embed with students was a Shelfari “bookshelf” showing newly arrived books from our Junior Library Guild subscription. Since our library website is the “homepage” for student computers, students quickly noticed these books and would check them out!

(Note: Shelfari is no longer available, but you can see it in the above image. Library Thing also provides an embed feature that can be used for this purpose, as you can see below with my own books.)

Other helpful embeds that promote a reading culture in our school are podcast booktalks and video booktrailers created by 7th & 8th grade ELA students. It’s exciting for students to create these and then see them displayed on the school library website, and their fellow students view them to decide which books to check out next.


Our school has a highly transitory school population so I embedded a helpful ThingLink map of our School Library. New students click on the icons to find out more about the library. I included a YouTube video on how to choose a good book and a personal SoundCloud greeting from me, the Librarian, Ms. P. Try some of the info-icons yourself!


Supporting student research is an important part of a school library website. I have links to our online subscription databases and e-books on the homepage so students can immediately use them.

Providing a linklist of student research resources is helpful, but I also use an embed feature to engage student interest in resources that are especially good, for example, directing 7g Social Studies students to the Texas Almanac!

almanac home | Texas Almanac

The Texas Almanac is a biennially published reference work providing information for the general public on the history of the state and its people, government and politics, economics, natural resources, holidays, culture, education, recreation, the arts, and other topics.

Another way to support students is by providing Research Helpers, such as my “Sight-Site-Cite” embedded video, used by teachers in the classroom and by other librarians in my district to introduce the concept of “citation” to elementary and middle school students.


Finally, I embed short videos of Library Happenings to keep our stakeholders aware of how valuable the library is to students & teachers. Featuring various activities keeps parents coming to not only the school website, but also the library website in particular. When parents become familiar with the library site, they are more likely to remind their kids about library resources when working on an assignment or to find an answer to a question. Here is a short promotional video I created by simply uploading pictures of activities to Animoto and allowing it to create the video:

Add Embedded Features to Your School Library Website! - Embedding resources into our School Library Website creates a more engaging experience for users, and also advocates for the School Library and the School Librarian as essential to the school community. #NoSweatLibraryEmbedding resources into our School Library Website creates a much more engaging and supportive experience for our users, whether students, teachers, parents, or other visitors.

An exciting School Library Website also promotes the School Library and the School Librarian as essential to the whole educational community.

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FREE Digital Curation Tools for the School Librarian

FREE Digital Curation Tools for the School Librarian - A challenge for school librarians is finding free web tools for our curation needs, but there are so many online curation tools that we now need to curate the curation tools! #NoSweatLibrary #DeweyLinksFor more than 20 years, the School Librarian has been regarded as a “tech guru” in education. We quickly brought digital devices into our libraries (computers, iPods, iPads, Kindles), and promptly implemented digital & online information services (library catalogs, databases, e-books); early on we were organizing Internet/WWW resources (Librarians Internet Index, a Gopher site, migrated to the Web in 1994; Internet Public Library opened in 1995; my own DeweyLinks premiered in 1998).

Teachers are now more digitally proficient, yet the School Librarian remains the person others come to when they need guidance with hardware, software, or cloud computing. We must continue to master new technologies and tools if we are to remain indispensable. Digital Curation Tools is one area that challenges us to keep up with changes.


When Future Ready Schools launched Future Ready Librarians to promote school librarians as leaders in digital learning (6/24/16 press release), their Factsheet lists curating digital resources under Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment. Accordingly, digital curation is selecting, organizing, integrating, and sharing digital resources to support teaching and learning, and helping students and teachers develop digital curation skills. We’ve been doing this all along; we just had different names for it. Now that we have a common term to use, it will be easier for us to know just what we need to do, and for us to implement its training with students and colleagues.

A List of Platforms for Curation & Search [infographic]The difficulty for school librarians, with our budget constraints, is to find FREE web tools to serve our curation needs. Over the past several years so many online curation tools have appeared that we now need to curate the curation tools! In a 2012 online infographic, Joyce Valenza, classified 24 tools into 3 groups. (right)

A 2012 online article by Nikki Robertson grouped 9 tools a bit differently:
“Curation tools can include online social-bookmarking services like Diigo, Delicious, Digg, Reddit, and more visually oriented bookmarking services like Pinterest and Symbaloo. Then there are hybrid curation tools that not only enable bookmarking, but also allow us to create visual stories (Storify) and customized magazines or newspapers (Scoop.it and Paper.li).” (p.E1)

Curation categories in Teachers Guide to Tech 2020My personal resource for tech tools is The Teacher’s Guide to Tech by Jennifer Gonzalez of Cult of Pedagogy. I highly recommend this PDF categorizing hundreds of educational technology tools (updated each year). Under “Content Curation” Jennifer groups curation tools into 5 easy-to-understand types. See the image at left for the groups she uses.

Thanks to this guide I use Feedly twice a week to keep up with 50+ librarian and ~100 teacher blogs, and it’s a vast improvement over what I used to use. I also use Pinterest regularly, and I’m building up a nice little reference area for myself and other librarians. Visit No Sweat Library on Pinterest for my curated School Librarian resources.

I just cannot seem to make the decision about which, of the 37 different tools I have bookmarked in my browser, I’ll use for curating my dozens of personal browser bookmarks. Diigo is a strong contender, but I also like Draggo and Elink and …and …oh, my, I just don’t think I can handle so many decisions in one day!


DeweyLinks is my collection of curriculum-related websites for Grades 6-12 students and teachers, organized by the Dewey Decimal System. It was offline for a couple years, but now it’s on Edublogs, organized as a group of webpages, with a page for each main Dewey Class.

I want to put it on a more visual platform, and Symbaloo might be what I need—it packs numerous visual links into the smallest space possible and can provide separate tabs for the Dewey Classes. One thing I learned from the The Teacher’s Guide to Tech is to take advantage of a site’s video tutorials. Using a Symbaloo tutorial I began to import each DeweyLink page into it’s own webmix, as well as import all the loose links intended for DeweyLinks that I’d bookmarked in my browser. Symbaloo also provides a way to group several “tiles” on the same topic into a smaller space, which will be ideal for something like folklore or environmental issues or history, which have so many websites. I’d expected the transition to a new platform to take much longer, but this FREE online service is making it so much easier!

As a school librarian I’ve created a number of Resource Lists for classroom projects (some librarians call them Pathfinders). Since the number of links is far fewer than DeweyLinks I want a more visual application that shows a bit more of the site page. There are several to consider, and I like Wakelet, Padlet, and Scoop.it a lot.

Free digital curation tools are valuable for School Librarians to enhance practice activities. This NoSweat Library Lesson uses Padlet to curate student articles on how technology has affected our society. | No Sweat LibraryFor my 6g Essential Literacy Unit – Reading Informational Resources, the School Librarian bookmarks articles from one of their library’s subscription services so students can create an Informational Poster. If the librarian has limited resources or time, I created an alternative using a digital curation tool—a private Padlet of ~30 short articles from free educational news sites, like CommonLit, Dogo News, Smithsonian Tween Tribune, Time for Kids, and The Why Files. Student partners choose an article and use 5 index cards for their poster:

  1. an introductory paragraph in their own words
  2. a quote from the article with the proper citation
  3. a paraphrase from the article with the proper citation
  4. a final summary paragraph of the article
  5. the bibliographic citation card.

Among the FREE curation tools, I chose Padlet because it offers columnar organization and displays a photo/image as a link to the article. Also, I can add a title and blurb if they don’t display from the article source. Being able to use this free curation tool for one lesson in the unit makes my product especially appealing for busy School Librarians who need such a lesson quickly and inexpensively. You may find it valuable, too.

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