5 Apps That Make Remote Reference Rock!

If you prefer the mobility of a tablet to the tether of a PC, then I have 5 apps that you might find useful for providing remote reference services. Here they are in no particular order (most of them are iOS apps):

  1. Explain a Website (EAW). This is a very cool app that allows you to record and edit your web browsing to create a screencast that can be emailed or sent to YouTube, Evernote or Dropbox. This is a great tool for showing a patron how to navigate your website, find an article, log into a database, or anything else web-related. Available for iOS only. Cost: $0.99
  2. Bugshot. This app will take a screenshot of anything on your tablet. Just press the home and sleep/awake buttons simultaneously. Once the picture is taken, it is saved in your camera roll. All you have to do is pull it up in Bugshot. Then you can edit over it with arrows, frames, and scramblers and email it to your patron. Great for situations where you want to call attention to something specific. Available for iOS only. Free.
  3. Zoom. The Zoom app allows you to video chat with a patron, with screensharing capabilities. You can invite a patron to participate through email or IM. Perfect for more complex reference questions. Available for iOS or Android. Free.
  4. Pure Chat. This app sounds like its name. Essentially it is a chat app that connects your iPad to an embedded chat widget in your web site. The nice thing about this app is that it disappears from your web site when no one is available to chat. It can also be managed on a PC browser and includes features such as canned responses and transcripts. All for free!
  5. Google Drive. The Google Drive app is a great place to collaborate with patrons who need to show you their work (e.g. citation help), but don’t necessarily want to do it in real time. They can provide you with a link to their shared document, which will allow you to insert comments, feedback, etc… Available for iOS or Android. Free.
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