Tag Archives: music

Apps for your reading life

Here are some reading-related apps for all of us book nerds:


litsyLitsy is basically Instagram for those of us who only care about book photos. In addition to the book cover galore, you can use Litsy as a way to track your reading. Search for a title, add to your reading stack, and when you are done, share your rating, short review, blurb or quote. I am especially fond of the “bail” rating. Thank you for giving me the permission to just close the book and say, “that’s enough of that.”

If you like hanging out with other book lovers, give Litsy a try. There is always good old Goodreads too of course. It’s June already. How are you doing on your annual reading challenge?



Ambient Mixer

I first heard about Ambient Mixer from this Lifehacker post, and it sounds like a fun way to add to the atmosphere while you are reading, and help you get immersed in the scenes. The website provides a wide variety of themed music loops and mixes so you can create the appropriate background soundtrack to match whatever you are reading. Jon Snow could be walking to the sounds of a “mysterious walk in snow storm”  beyond the wall. Transport yourself to Waystone Inn with the fantasy inn/pub/tavern loop. Or, how about some crowd noise for Ned Stark? (Umm, no thanks!)



forestSure, there are books that completely capture my attention, but alas, my phone has too much power over me, and I find myself reaching for it when I am supposed to be reading. There are lots of apps out there that can help you maintain focus. I chose Forest because of its genius use of guilt. And I love the UI.

When you are ready to start a task, set a timer of how long you want to read, and the app will plant a tree for you. The idea is to not navigate away from the Forest app to go check your email, or watch that owl pooping and fleeing the scene video for the nth time.  If you try, a warning will come up, asking you if you are really prepared to live the life of a tree killer. Not just any trees, as you can see, cute, little trees!



Libib is a super quick way to catalogue your personal book collection. The app is very easy to use. Just scan the barcode on the back of the book, and the book will be added to your collection. Because my husband and I are both SFF readers, we often stand at the bookstore wondering if we own a particular volume in the series or not. Libib solves that problem for us, well, as long as we add our purchases religiously.

What apps have you found useful in your reading life? Share your favourites in the comment section.

Virginia from the Port Moody Public Library

When the Music Fan Visits the Library

high fidelity soundtrack album artSometimes librarians are like 90s record shop staffers. We create playlists on-the-fly responding to queries like: “Do you have some good music for working-out?” or “I’m creating a slide show of my trip to India and I need some music. Traditional folk and some Bollywood songs please.”

Unlike advising readers, helping people find music in the library doesn’t come with a long professional history or an overflowing toolkit; no library school classes, no specialized databases build by librarians for librarians, no myriad of in-house finding-aids and no ninth edition professional books on the subject.

Music Advisory (MA) Resources

Luckily, we can rely on other fields. Print guides to music are full of curated recommendations. Penguin has published many guides to classical music as has Oxford. Subject searches for “Sound Recordings – Reviews” and “Music Appreciation” will reveal a wealth of music guides across genres.

Great free online MA resources include AllMusic, The Encyclopedia of Music in CanadaCBC MusicNPRGroovesharklast.fm and online versions of music magazines.

Your library may provide access to subscription databases such as: Freegal, Oxford Music Online or Naxos Music Library.

Bibliocommons Lists – If you library is using Bibliocommons or another discovery layer, search for music lists. Currently, Bibliocommons offers 133 lists of Hip Hop music created by library staff and patrons.

Algorithm-based Music Recommendation Sources are available online. Gnoosic is a search engine for music. It will ask you what music you like and then suggest what you might like. Last.fm has a listen-alike “music discovery service.” Type in an artist you like and find another you might enjoy. Use Musicovery to create a playlist based on your mood, a genre or an artist.

Jane Coop's favorite piano piecesPassive Music Advisory

Create a list in Bibliocommons on a musical genre or theme.  You can also recruit experts to create lists – think local musicians, DJs or music educators. My colleague and music librarian Margaret Mould invited 12 local musicians and music educators to select their favourite music from our collection. We offer these lists on our website as well as in print.

Matthew Moyer enthuses about a similar music community outreach project in Library Journal.

Online Form-based Music Advisory

A few public libraries have created form-based online music advisory services, notably the Jacksonville Public Library. This is likely the most well-known online music advisory service in the library world. The creators, Andrew Coulon and Matthew Moyer were named LJ Movers and Shakers in 2012 for their innovation.  Coulon and Moyer developed the service model, the form and they report their customized playlists on their blog – which is a wealth of music lore.

The BiblioPod Music Advisory is available on the beautiful website of the Rochester and Monroe County Central Library Arts Division. The BiblioPod form is similar to the Jacksonville model. Bibliopod’s music advisory team is made up of experienced librarians, local DJs and talent. Judy Schewe, Music Librarian, publishes and annotates their customized playlists on the Bibliopod blog which is also a rich resource.

Bonus Tracks

  1. A Must-Read intro to recommending music in Library Journal by Matthew Moyer of Jacksonville PL.
  2. The Brain Pickings Literary Jukebox created by Maria Popova.