Collaboration is Key: Some Free Tools to Share Knowledge.

Last week’s CALI conference at the beautiful Marquette Law School was inspiring in a whole lot of ways!

First, the physical space! The law school is dotted with collaborative workspaces; group study rooms and open tables are on all the floors, and many of the study rooms include white boards and flat screens.

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[My amateur interior photos taken at the conference; Jason Sowards provided the exterior shot that looks up at the reading room.]
Second, the sessions! Many of the sessions I attended focused on collaboration. Organized by function, some of the tools mentioned were:

    • Tracking your research: A browser plug-in, Zotero will track your research, take screen shots, and allow you to organize your research into folders that you can then share with others. Similarly, Evernote allows you to tag your web research, and share with others.
    • Collaborating on Documents: A quick classic, GoogleDocs offers online word processing, change tracking, in-document chat collaboration, file exports, and spreadsheet and form capabilities. It also allows you to organize and label files. (Not mentioned at the conference, Airset has similar offerings. Having used it to collaborate on a recent publication, a caveat: the online word processor messes with the formatting if downloaded into a Word document.)
    • Sharing Files/Videos/Photographs: Dropbox offers 2GB of storage for your files. You can allow access to folders, and any changes in a document are synced to your Dropbox copy. It also offers photo and video storage. Mendeley offers many of the same services, and will sync with Zotero. Similar services to Dropbox are Sugarsync and Spideroak. (Pam Brannon’s excellent presentation, “Online Resources for Managing and Providing Faculty Research Support” suggests that the main difference between these services is one of security.)

Oh, the possibilities that tumbled through my brain during the conference! I’m going to integrate Zotero and Mandeley into my time on the reference desk, and see if Zotero can help us generate our legal research bibliographies. Also, I plan on exploring the possibilities of the PDFs syncing with a faculty member’s e-reader.

For more coverage of the conference, check out my fellow blogger’s recent post on the many iPad apps she learned about at CALI. Also, see the main CALI conference page and webcasts of many of the sessions for more information and inspiration.

This entry was posted in Factual & Investigative Research, Issues in Law Librarianship, Legal Research, Reference Services and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Collaboration is Key: Some Free Tools to Share Knowledge.

  1. I’d be interested to hear how your efforts with Zotero go. I’ve heard great things about it, but never seem to have the time to really figure out how to use it and incorporate it my day to day.

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