6 Chrome Browser Extensions Every Librarian Needs

Google ChromeA look at global browser market share data will show that Google’s Chrome browser commands more than half of the browser market (58.4% for January 2017, to be specific).  The market share might be even higher among librarians (who have a choice at work).  If you’re not a Google Chrome user, these six browser extensions might make you switch.

If you’ve never considered browser extensions, they are plugins or small applications that add functionality to your browser.  Sometimes they work in the background (like Grammarly, below) but usually they work when you click on a small icon that gets added to the browser’s toolbar.

Chrome browser extension icons

Google has a huge Chrome Web Store for browser extensions, most of them are free.  They offer help to install and manage extensions but for the most part, a single click will install an extension.  Sometimes additional configuration options are available.

Here are six Chrome browser extensions every librarian needs.

Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat browser extensionConvert any webpage to a PDF document.  According to Adobe, the Adobe Acrobat extension will “[p]reserve the layout, formatting, and links of captured pages – including CSS styles, HTML5 tags, JavaScript, embedded Flash, and more.”  Note that this Chrome extension works only on Windows and that Adobe Acrobat DC or Adobe Acrobat XI (11.0.09 or higher) must be installed on your computer.

Add the Adobe Acrobat browser extension.

DOI Resolver

DOI Resolver browser extension

The DOI Resolver extension does exactly what its name suggests.  Often on publisher sites and institutional repository pages, Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) are shown (such as 10.1016/S0921-4526(00)00753-5) but aren’t actual links.  DOI Resolver allows you to highlight the DOI, right-click, and select “Resolve DOI” to be taken directly to the item.  Also, clicking on the DOI Resolver icon opens a DOI search.  One useful feature is the extension’s ability to generate a QR code for the DOI.

Add the DOI Resolver browser extension.

Google Scholar Button

Google Scholar Button browser extension

Even if you don’t normally use Google Scholar to locate journal articles, the extension has some very useful features for the researcher.  Using the Google Scholar Button Chrome extension’s browser icon, users can search for the full-text version of a highlighted article title, immediately switch from Google to Google Scholar search results, and create article citations in several styles.

Add the Google Scholar Button browser extension.

Grammarly for Chrome

Grammarly for Chrome browser extension

We all have spelling and grammar checking in Microsoft Word and other favorite text editing applications.  But if you do any writing on the Web, you often find you don’t have these features.  The Grammarly for Chrome browser extension adds spelling, grammar, and word choice checking to your online writing in applications such as LibAnswers, WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, online forms, and many others.  Check out other free products from Grammarly.

Add the Grammarly for Chrome browser extension.

Library Extension

Library Extension browser extension

This extension might not help your work, but it is a useful tool for finding library books.  Library Extension adds a box to book sites Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and Google Books to find titles in your local public library.  It supports “over 3200 library systems and consortiums across the Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.”  Before adding, you can check to see if your library is supported.

Add the Library Extension browser extension.

Wayback Machine

Wayback Machine browser extension

In the course of research or other browsing of the Internet, you probably have tried to access webpages that no longer exist.  If you wished you had one-click access to an archived version of the missing webpage, you’re now in luck.  The Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine created a browser extension for Google Chrome that allows you to do just that.  When you reach a missing page (the dreaded 404 error page), the Wayback Machine Chrome extension gives you a link to the latest archived version of that page (if available).

Add the Wayback Machine browser extension.

Enhance Your Library Presence on Google

Welcome to Google My Business!

Of course users can find your library on Google.  But with a few simple steps, you can enhance your library’s presence on Google services such as Search, Google Maps, and Google+ by adding library information, photos, and hours.  You do this by creating a profile for your library in Google My Business.

When searching Google you have probably seen the the information-rich box to the right of the search results list.  Google calls this the Knowledge Graph display and it has been in use since 2012.  It uses semantic search to enhance search results when a person, topic, or place is identified.  The Knowledge Graph information can also be used to add instant information to the top of the search results list, such as today’s library hours.

Google Knowledge Graph in Search Results

Here is an example of a Knowledge Graph display before it has been claimed and enhanced:

Google Knowledge Graph (Before)

If the link “Own this business?” shows in the Knowledge Graph display for your library, no one has claimed ownership for your library’s profile. Clicking this link allows you to set up your Google My Business account. Note: This process also creates a Google+ page.

First, you’ll have to check the box that says “I am authorized to manage this business and I agree to the Terms of Service.”

On the next screen you will be given the choice to verify your business by phone or by mail.  If you choose mail, you will receive a letter at the mailing address in the Knowledge Graph display that will contain your verification code (and a Google sticker).  This usually arrives in about five days.  You don’t need to wait for verification to edit your profile.

Once you have chosen your verification method, Google will create your basic Google My Business page.

Google My Business - Home

From this Home page you can edit your library information (name, address, phone, website URL) and add library hours and photos.

Google My Business - Edit Mode

Once your Google My Business profile has been completed and your account verified, your enhanced Knowledge Graph display will appear in Google search results and other services.

Google offers an app to allow you to update information and hours from your mobile device.

Available on the App Store Android App on Google Play

Introducing Microsoft Academic

Microsoft Academic

The Microsoft Academic search tool is an open discovery service for scholarly scientific works including citation relationships between works, authors, institutions, places, and subject fields.

Microsoft is quietly developing an open discovery service for scholarly scientific works called Microsoft Academic based on Microsoft Research’s Microsoft Academic Graph (MAG).  This search database will function much like Web of Science and Scopus in linking paper citations to aid in discovery.

To build the MAG, Bing technology crawls the Web looking for “publisher websites, university repositories, researcher and departmental web pages, etc.” which then get analysed for content and citations.  If papers are determined to be scholarly works, they’re added to the MAG.

Microsoft Academic search: BIBFRAME

Microsoft describes the service in their FAQ:

This new service puts a knowledge driven, semantic inference based search and recommendation framework front and center. In addition, a new data structure and graph engine have been developed to facilitate the real-time intent recognition and knowledge serving. One illustrating feature is semantic query suggestions that identify authors, topics, journals, conferences, etc., as you type and offer ways to refine your search based on the data in the underlying academic knowledge graph. You can also refine your results using the filters on the search results page. Since we are built on top of Bing’s web crawling infrastructure, we are able to discover and index new academic papers in a more scalable manner. We now have over 150 million entities and billions of relationships in the Microsoft Academic Graph and growing!

Microsoft Academic results: BIBFRAME

Search results can be filtered by date range, author, affiliation, field of study, journal, and conference.  Users can choose to include news items or limit results to scholarly works.

The underlying MAG data is available for download or accessed via the Academic Knowledge API.

It remains to be seen if Microsoft Academic can develop the features to rival Google Scholar.  Three features would go a long way towards that goal.  The service should allow libraries to register so that search results can contain custom links including institutional authentication such as a proxy URL prefix.  Microsoft Academic could add its own altmetrics by gathering results from Bing crawling the Web and social media sites.  A simple tool to add citations to Microsoft Word documents would be a way to set Microsoft Academic apart.  But its open, non-commercial platform with downloadable data and APIs makes it a search service to watch.

Preview Microsoft Academic at https://academic.microsoft.com.

Improve Your Online Searching Skills

Finding information is a fundamental librarian skill.  Whether you are searching with library discovery tools, in online research databases, or on the Internet at large using a search engine, great searching skills are a necessity.

Here is a selection of the best up-to-date books to improve your online searching skills.

The Complete Guide to Using Google in Libraries: Research, User Applications, and Networking edited by Carol Smallwood

The Complete Guide to Using Google in Libraries: Research, User Applications, and Networking edited by Carol SmallwoodThe book is divided into four parts: Research, User Applications, Networking, and Searching. Part IV on searching includes advanced search strategies, underutilized Google search tools, and evaluating the sources of search results. Other parts cover using Google services such as Google Books, Drive, Google+, Google Scholar, and Google Translate among others.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.

Google Search Secrets by Christa Burns and Michael P. Sauers

Google Search Secrets by Christa Burns and Michael P. SauersAs the title suggests, this book covers the search engine Google.  It goes beyond the basic search function to give practical tips and tricks on Google’s “hidden” features.  The authors devote chapters to cover specific Google search services including Blogs, Books, Discussions, Images, Maps, News, Patents, and Videos.  The chapter on Google Scholar is particularly relevant for academic librarians. The authors created a companion blog for posting updates so have a look even if you don’t buy the book.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.

Librarian’s Guide to Online Searching: Cultivating Database Skills for Research and Instruction (Fourth Edition) by Suzanne S. Bell

Librarian's Guide to Online Searching: Cultivating Database Skills for Research and Instruction (Fourth Edition) by Suzanne S. BellNow in its fourth edition, this popular book for librarians has been updated for 2015.  The book looks into what a database is, parts of a database, and tools for searching such as Boolean logic and truncation.  Later chapters discuss the different databases by subject matter.  Evaluating databases is covered. Finally, the book lists eight principles of teaching databases.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.

Online Searching: A Guide to Finding Quality Information Efficiently and Effectively by Karen Markey

Online Searching: A Guide to Finding Quality Information Efficiently and Effectively by Karen MarkeyThis new book covers searching online using discovery tools and research databases.  It starts with the research interview and traces the steps through assessing search results.  Pre-search preparation and database selection are covered before detailing specific search types: controlled-vocabulary, free-text, and known-item.  The author ends with a look into the future of online searching.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.

Semantic Web Technologies and Social Searching for Librarians by Robin M. Fay and Michael P. Sauers

Semantic Web Technologies and Social Searching for Librarians by Robin M. Fay and Michael P. SauersThe final volume of The Tech Set from ALA, this guide goes beyond basic Internet searching.  As indicated in the title, the semantic Web and finding hidden data is its main focus.  Specific types of searching include location-based, multimedia, social, and semantic.  Specific search examples from Google and Bing are shown.  The book has a companion website with author information and links, downloadable files, related slide presentations, and an audio interview with the authors.

View details and find a place to buy or borrow at Google Books.