Five powerful digital tools for teacher librarians

By Ceinwen Jones

Ceinwen Jones, SCIS Cataloguing Officer, explores five digital tools she enjoyed using as a teacher librarian.

Some of these may be new to you. Some of them may seem obvious. But here are five digital tools I enjoyed using as a teacher librarian!



Currently my favourite for to-do lists, one way I regularly use Trello is for my daily brain-dump of jobs I need to do. I then allocate tasks to future dates in the week if I know I don’t have time to do them right away, but don’t want to forget them. I can drag and drop an email that I need to follow up on, from Outlook mail into Trello, and create a task that way too.

Trello works like a bunch of lists grouped together by topic on a board. I can have a board for the current week and a list for each day – then I just add cards (tasks) as I need to, so I can remember all the things I need to do. When I’ve done a task, I move it into the ‘Done’ list – very satisfying! I also have a board called ‘Things I need to ask people’ (then when I see that person I can refer to the list!). And another called ‘Things to remember’, which has a whole lot of random stuff like the postal address of where I work (which Í always forget and never know where to find, but often need to use!) and keyboard shortcuts for our library software.

But the powerful thing about Trello is that you can collaborate on boards, so if you have a project to organise – like Book Week – you can make lists of tasks, grouped by topic, and allocate them to different people in your team. That way, everyone knows what they’re doing and what everyone else is doing. If you need even more communication, you can integrate Trello with Teams or Slack, for corresponding chat.


Maybe you use Outlook regularly to check your emails; but have you ever tried using the tasks feature of it? If you’re looking for something simpler than Trello, then perhaps you could consider using Outlook more. If, for example, you are going through your emails in the morning and receive something that you need to follow up on – and don’t want to forget – one of the choices you have is to make it into a task (you do that by clicking on the Follow Up flag on the top ribbon). Then later, after you’ve finished dealing with that bunch of emails, you can look back at the tasks list and work through it. You can also attach reminders to the tasks, and set their due date in the future if you want to deal with them later.

The Outlook calendar is great too if you want to remind yourself of tasks or appointments. If you’re teaching as well as running a library, being able to block out times for meetings, admin and teaching can help you easily see where you can squeeze in a task or meet with a colleague. You can use it like you would a diary. There’s always space to put extra notes on appointments, so you can jot down things like meeting notes or other observations in the appointments themselves. If you forget where you’ve written your notes, the search function in the calendar works really well!


I regarded myself as an atypical teacher librarian, because I’ve never been good at displays, but Canva has changed my life! Any signs, flyers or posters I make are now so professional because I can use templates and layouts that have been generated by actual graphic designers. I can edit and adapt the colour scheme or the theme to fit with whatever my topic is. If you’re looking for a tool to produce professional-looking graphics for the library, for social media posts, or even in the classroom with your students, I highly recommend Canva.

Remember that these tools are intended to make your life as a librarian easier!


Honestly, I do know that this one seems a little obvious, but Excel has so much functionality, and we deal so much with statistics and data now, I just think it’s got to be in the conversation.

Excel is excellent for so many tasks. For term planning, it’s the easiest way to set out a table for a 10-week term, with subsequent tabs for info, planning and reflecting for each week. It’s also great for library stocktake and charts for reporting frequently used (and frequently unused!) resources – and subsequently for weeding and acquisitions planning.

Even if you just love making tables, the simplicity of a plain table in Excel has a lot of appeal in contrast to the often problematic and tricky-to-edit Word tables.


Do you want to:

  • curate a bunch of trustworthy websites on a topic, or several topics
  • create a quick, interactive warm-up for a new unit of work
  • have students add content and knowledge to a map, or a timeline
  • enable an easy-to-use, collaborative brainstorm?

Padlet is an intuitive, collaborative and extremely flexible tool, which enables the class to chat, collaborate and share in real time. You can have it up on your interactive board and/or simultaneously on individual student devices. You can add media, links and files, customise the colour schemes and choose from a range of formats. It’s fun for everyone!

Remember that these tools are intended to make your life as a librarian easier! Not all of them will be suitable for your particular situation and they should definitely not induce extra stress. Perhaps start with Trello – once you know what all your deadlines are and who is doing what it is easier to turn your attention to other more creative aspects of running a library. There are many other tools out there, but I can vouch that these have worked for us.

Ceinwen Jones

SCIS Cataloguing Officer and qualified teacher librarian Education Services Australia