Thing 11: Libraries & Reference

For Thing 11, we get to explore apps created by libraries or used for library reference. I tried out two apps for this Thing. BrowZine is an app offered by the University of Minnesota Libraries that allows users to browse and download whole journals. Zinio is popular with public libraries, allowing library patrons to download full-color popular magazines to read (and keep).

It was hard to limit myself to three apps for this Thing. Hennepin County Library offers a great list of apps to accompany their various online databases and services, and I wanted to try most of them!


The University of Minnesota Libraries have offered BrowZine for awhile, but I haven’t had a chance to play around with it before now. BrowZine is an app available for anyone affiliated with the University. It brings together individual journal articles together in full journals to be read. You can find current journals and their back issues, and save your favorite journals onto shelves.

screenshot of bookshelf of journals in BrowZine
A few sample bookshelves I put together of journals in BrowZine. Notice the beautiful, healthy-looking plant on top of my shelves. I did not put it there.
Screenshot of the Journal The Lion and the Unicorn in BrowZine
This is what it looks like inside of a journal, I can browse by the titles in the most current issue, or open up a back issue.

BrowZine was very easy to use. The biggest challenge I think it faces is getting enough journals of value inside for patrons to use. I’m not sure what criteria they use to choose journals, but there didn’t seem to be a lot of logic behind what was or wasn’t included. I assume this is due to licensing restrictions and the like. I can definitely see professors and some grad students finding BrowZine really useful for keeping up in their field.


screenshot of four popular magazines downloaded from Zinio
A few magazines I downloaded from Zinio

For your popular magazines, we have Zinio, which many public libraries have been adopting of late. I began playing around in Zinio briefly in early 2013, when the public library I was working at at the time was getting it. The most confusing part of the process is the multiple log-ins, which I can see being a bit of a hurdle for some public library patrons. You have a library Zinio account and a regular Zinio account. You check out magazines from the library, which are sent to your regular Zinio account to read on a computer or a mobile device.

Libraries get to choose which magazines are available for free through Zinio for their patrons. I downloaded a couple and flipped through them on the iPad. They look really great! And, you get to keep the magazines forever. When I logged in to my Zinio account, my test magazines from Lake Agassiz Regional Library from February 2013 were still there.

This would be a good app for public librarians to become comfortable using. It is a service that would appeal to many patrons who would likely need assistance figuring out how it works!


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