YouTubin’ It

youtubeapk3.jpgI often find myself searching YouTube when I want to know more about a particular subject. For example, in addition to my INFO 233 course, I’m also taking INFO 248 right now and therefore learning a lot about cataloging. Many universities and veteran librarians have created helpful YouTube videos that help break down this sometimes confusing world of cataloging.

I am not a cataloger by trade, so that course is a bit challenging at times. A recent assignment had us differentiating FRBR, FRAD, AACR2, and RDA. While the professor has provided some great readings on these topics, including her own text and lectures, the addition of some YouTube videos has supported my learning in this area. In one search, I found a concise overview of FRBR that built upon the knowledge I had already gleaned. The video was created by Andrea Lorenz, a cataloger at Mayville State University in North Dakota and can be found by clicking on the video link below.


In addition to providing learning assistance for myself, I subscribe to different YouTube channels to expose myself to a variety of book reviews and book trailers. Most review publications and book companies have their own channel. For example, School Library Journal has a channel and has created a playlist titled “30-second book talks”. I watch these videos myself to learn about the different books I can add to my own book talks. I am also going to share these with my students who record their own book talks. Our library has a YouTube channel where I publish student book talks. While I give them an in-person demonstration, along with written directions & a step-by-step process to assist them in this endeavor, I could also provide the link to these book talks to give them yet another model.

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The Junior Library Guild also has their own channel with videos and playlists that include book reviews, book trailers, professional development webinars, book readings, and author interviews. Deborah Ford is one presenter that I always try to watch at the CSLA conference every year. She also publishes her reviews on this channel (although with a partner usually). Here is a video of her reviews of the recent Boston Horn Book Awards, including the trending books Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin and Symphony for the City of the Dead by M.T. Anderson.  

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There are a couple of librarians who I subscribe to as well. One is Michelle Luhtala of New Canaan High School. Every year, she records a new welcome video for the school’s freshmen assembly. She records it so that there are fresh faces in each year’s video and so it does not get outdated. I would love to record one myself and have it played at our assemblies and post it on our website. Luhtala also posts videos of online tutorials to guide students and staff through different tasks because “as many librarians…have already discovered, making a screencast can be an excellent way to develop online tutorials to walk students through how to use the library website or to answer reference questions about specific databases!” (Hilliker, 2015). I have already adopted this strategy and have recorded a video for my own library using Screencastomatic (video available by clicking on the image below).

Video 1

Students tend to gravitate towards people their own age though. There are many aptly named “Booktubers” out there with huge followings (I’m talking over 200 thousand subscribers). One of the students’ favorites is Poland Bananas Books. She has approximately 264,000 followers and in addition to her book reviews and music videos, has taped author interviews like THIS ONE with Jenny Haan. I appreciate her book talks because she gives a reaction based on a younger perspective. I have also been inspired by her videos to create new Book Talk topics and Pinterest boards such as “Tearjerkers” and “The Noobs Guide to Contemporary Reads”.  Other fun Booktubers to follow: Tashapolis, JesseTheReader, and Katytastic.




Hilliker, R. R. (2015). Screencast-O-Matic: A Librarian’s Best Friend?.School Librarian’s Workshop, 35(6), 23-24.



Listen Up!

Throughout this semester, I have been curious about if there were any library-related podcasts out there. Many of the additions to my P.L.N. so far have necessitated that I be sitting in front of the computer (or another technological device). What if I am sitting in my car though? I wanted to find a way to use my commute time productively and “podcasting allows time to catch up on professional subjects…librarians will find podcasts on subjects as varied as the collections they curate” (Thomas, 2016). Podcasts are easy to access. You can subscribe to and download most podcasts on iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher. A few are available to listen to through YouTube as well.

I searched Google for “Podcasts for Librarians” and found a great article titled, “Hearing Voices: Librarian-Produced Podcasts,” that exposed me to many relevant podcast channels. Here are some of the great librarian stations I found:


Circulating Ideas

BookRiot’s Dear Book Nerd

Cyberpunk Librarian

I listed LibUX as my personal favorite due to the amount of podcast topics that interest me as well as their site organization. I love that they break the content down by time so you can fast-forwards to the sections that draw your interest. Here’s an example of the LibUX breakdowns:


Podcast episodes I have added to my playlist:

An Interview with Tim Spalding, the founder of LibraryThing (LibUX)

Why are Library Websites So Hard to Get Right? (LibUX)

Trends for Library Web Design (LibUX)

Love Your Reading Life (Book Riot’s Dear Book Nerd)

Digital Signage & How to Set It Up at Your Library (Cyberpunk Librarian)

“Picture This” – Sources for Free, Public Domain Images (Cyberpunk Librarian)

An Interview with Buffy Hamilton (Circulating Ideas) *I was ECSTATIC to find this episode, even though I have yet to listen to it. Buffy Hamilton publishes one of the blogs I love and reviewed here.

I would love to compile different podcasts playlists on my library webpage, some for teachers, some for students, some for parents. I could see students listening to a podcast playlist that reviewed different Young Adult books. If I pair this with Buffy Hamilton’s idea of having students record their own podcasts, I could create student-created, book review playlists for our school. Another way of incorporating podcasts into the school library is to involve the teen library council, if you have one. At our school (since it is joint-use), we have a Board of Library Teens that would love to be involved in a podcast project. You can ask teenagers to brainstorm topics that they think their peers would find interesting or relevant to their lives. If you have volunteers, you could even involve these teenagers in the creation process, “Teens can give book reviews, create library tours, city tours, or even record interviews with prominent residents of your community” (Jones, 2009). I am thinking of recording a few podcast book reviews myself. They can serve as a model for any student who might want to create one for the library, and give teachers ideas about how they can incorporate podcasts into their curriculum plans.




Jones, N. (2009). You’re on the Air! Podcasting with Teens at the Library. Voice Of Youth Advocates, 32(3), 200-203.


Thomas, S. (2016). Hearing voices: Librarian-produced podcasts. American Libraries. Retrieved from

Wish They All Could Be California…

Wish they all could be California…..LIBRARIES!

Ok, ok….not exactly what the Beach Boys were thinking of, but it could work, right?

I’ve experimented in developing my PLN through both international and national means, today I’m going to concentrate on expanding my network at the state level.

My first mission was to subscribe to the CALIBK12 Google group which is a discussion forum for California school librarians. Members can post questions and crowdsource responses, or they can post general comments that they wish to share with others. One thread I found useful was the discussion on magazine subscription services. Our library staff plans to order some subscriptions this year (they had not before because the public library within our high school library already supplies some), and so I appreciated the feedback given. (For anyone interested, it seems like people have had good experiences with Subscription Services of America.)

My second mission was to delve into what the California School Library Association (CSLA) had to offer. I have been fortunate enough to attend the CSLA annual conference for the past two years.

The CSLA website has some great resources. I downloaded the poster below from them and plan to post it on my office walls.

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Their website also offers some library tutorials, including one named “Discovering Assistive Technology” (and it’s free!). I am drawn to this tutorial because I have county classes on my school campus that cater to students with sight and hearing disabilities. While I have been able to develop a relationship with some of these students, I have always wondered how I can be of more assistance to them. Building a strong assistive technology program in the library is pivotal because “AT [assistive technology] improves the quality of education in schools, prepares students with 21st century skills, and creates a visible leadership role for school librarians” (Ennis-Cole & Smith, 2011). This tutorial aims to provide librarians with strategies to help those with physical, sensory, and learning disabilities.

The CSLA Blog was quite engaging as well. I appreciated the post on how Teacher Librarians can support the CCSS math standards. Apart from creating some Safari Montage playlists for my math teachers, I have yet to find a way to be of genuine assistance these teachers. This post helped me dissect just what these new standards are requiring (a stronger emphasis on mathematical reasoning and the diminished role of rote skills), and how dependent they are on reading and literacy. I could see myself conducting a lesson for a math class that teaches students how to use credible databases to locate news articles that involve math in some way. I could also see myself offering my services to help a teacher design a website that students work through in order to create a project of their own.

Additional Resources Concerning CCSS Implementation:

Implementing the Common Core State Standards: The Role of the School Librarian

Nine Way the Common Core Will Change Classroom Practice

In complete honesty, I valued the offerings from the ALA and the IIRT slightly more than than those of CSLA. The CSLA blog does not post as often as I’d like, and the webpage does not provide as many resources as the ALA website. However, I do think that the CSLA will still be a good contribution to my PLN.

If you’re interested, other ways of connecting with CSLA include: Facebook, Pinterest, TwitterFlickr, and YouTube.




Ennis-Cole, D., & Smith, D. (2011). Assistive technology and autism: Expanding the technology leadership role of the school librarian. School Libraries Worldwide, 17(2), 86-98.


This Blog is on Fire, Part II


If you missed the first publication of this series, check it out here.

As noted in my previous review of blog sites, my criteria is entirely subjective. The purpose is merely to expose myself and others to new sources of inspiration and professional learning. I especially value blogs that introduce me to new tools that I can immediately use either in my library. So, without further ado, the winner of today’s Blog Award is….

The True Adventures of a High School Librarian

Honorable Mentions:

Jessamyn West’s Librarian.Net

Jenny Arch’s Look Out, Honey, ‘Cause I’m Using Technology

Snapchat as a study guide.

Image source: NPR

Nikki Robertson is the author of “The True Adventures of a High School Librarian“. I immediately attached to her site because her most recent post is about incorporating SnapChat into the library. Snapchat!!! That is one brave woman. To many adults, SnapChat has a definite stigma to it (Don’t know what I’m talking about – read this article). While some adults have reconciled with the idea that SnapChat can be a great social networking tool, there are some who still view it as app for sexters. Despite what adults think, the reality is that today’s high school students love the app. In a report last updated in early July 2016, the percentage of students, in the class of 2015 only, who admitted to using Snapchat daily was 60%. The average number of photos shared on Snapchat every second is approximately 9,000. These numbers prove how prevalent this app has become, and it would be in the library’s best interest to utilize this communication tool. Many celebrities and bloggers have adopted this mentality as well, so why not librarians?

Here are some ways that Nikki Robertson uses Snapchat for her library:

  • advertise new books
  • promote library events
  • celebrate students, teachers, and other patrons
  • brag about co-teaching/collaboration efforts
  • update followers on any new developments
  • sending messages such as “We are open!” or “Thank you to everyone who stopped by ______”

She even provides further reading for people who are interested. The first article, “The Complete Guide to Snapchat for Teachers and Parents” provides a great overview for adults who may have some hesitations. While the entire article is interesting, the most useful section is “How to Use Snapchat at School or in the Classroom”. Other resources include “High School Experiment with Snapchat to Reach Teens” and “10 Seconds at a Time, a Teacher Tries Snapchat to Engage Students“.

Image source: The True Adventures of a High School Librarian

Robertson also posts pictures and information about a library program she calls “The Genre Dating Game”. See her post here. Her library staff created small blurbs/dating taglines to post above the books in order to entice readers into checking them out. One of these signs reads, “An old soul born into the wrong era. Loves candlelight and exploring antique store. Will write you long letters instead of texting you! IT’S HISTORICAL!” (I’m so curious as to which book that is advertising!)

Image source: The True Adventures of a High School Librarian



I love this idea and could imagine doing this around Valentine’s Day. Last year, we had “Blind Date with a Book” (I’m including a picture of our display below). I think switching it up this year and holding the “Genre Dating Game” might be a nice change.

Let’s talk about the honorable mentions now. Jessamyn West has introduced me to the BookMarks site. Not only am I thrilled to have found this review site, but I am sad I didn’t know existed before today. I use GoodReads all the time – to skim reader reviews of books, to keep a virtual bookshelf of books I’ve read (and how I’ve rated them), and to organize my TBR list (TBR = To Be Read). I did not think I would need another review site. However, I absolutely love the BookMarks site. It’s like Rotten Tomatoes, but for books instead of movies. While GoodReads relies on reader reviews, BookMarks collects reviews published in the media. Once they have a minimum of three reviews, they assign the book a letter grade. My only criticism of this is that they do not have as comprehensive of a collection as GoodReads does.

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Image Source: BookMarks

Here is an image of a review page (click on image to be directed to full review):

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From honorable mention, Jenny Arch, I liked the blog post titled “Pleasure Reading Should be Pleasurable”. She discusses that compulsion some of us have to finish reading a book just because we started it. I find it amusing that I will make it a point to repeatedly tell my students (during book talks, or when recommending a novel), “If you don’t like it – STOP reading it”. It’s different for each book, but if you’ve given it a respectable chance (perhaps up to page 50) and it feels like a struggle to even open the book…’s time to walk away. I tell students that I want them to enjoy reading, and forcing themselves to finish a supposed pleasure-reading book won’t help in this endeavor. I, on the other hand, often feel guilty for abandoning a book. I have – trust me, I have definitely left many a book unfinished. However, the amount of time that has to pass before I legitimately give up on a book is astounding. Take Alexandra Bracken’s The Darkest Minds. I tried so hard to get into that novel (I know, it’s a trending Y.A. book – I KNOW!). I probably read over 300 pages of that book and did not enjoy it in the least. I would start and finish other books, then return to Bracken’s book. I repeated this process for about 4 months before I finally closed that book once and for all. FOUR months – what a waste of time! In her blog, Arch reminds me, “if you don’t like what you’re reading, and you don’t have to read it, put it down and read something you love instead”. I’m going to give myself permission to walk away from another book I’ve been trying to read titled Same Kind of Different as MeA large portion of my school staff has read it and all loved it. This is a good book – I can tell it’s a good book – it’s just not the book for me at this exact point in my life. I was feeling guilty about not getting through it, but I’ll just put it on my TBR list and come back to it one day.

I have to include one more honorable mention: Librarian Problems. Based on the content, this blog (which is honestly just a series of humorous memes) is directed towards public library employees. I work at a joint-use facility though, so many of these made me laugh out loud. I’m including a few just in the hopes of bringing a smile to your face.

Image Source: Librarian Problems


Image Source: Librarian Problems

Image Source: Librarian Problems

Image Source: Librarian Problems


Arch, J. (2016, February 5). Pleasure reading should be pleasurable. Retrieved from

Rodriguez, S. (2016). Snapchat finally acknowledges the existence of sexting with ‘memories’. Inc. Retrieved from

Smith, C. (2016). By the numbers: 80 amazing Snapchat statistics. DMR. Retrieved from

Let’s Face It


It’s time to face the truth – social media networks are more than just superficial means of social interaction. As we’ve already explored in earlier blog posts, both Twitter and Pinterest are practical and valuable sources of collaboration and work-related inspiration. Can Facebook be just as worthwhile? It’s time to see.

I often see Facebook used as a tool for requesting information. A teacher or librarian friend posts a question (for example, “Does anyone have any good resources related to digital citizenship? or “Teaching a unit on racial profiling – does anyone know of recent articles related to this topic?), and then is able to crowdsource a variety of responses.

Other way I see Facebook being used by librarians/organizations:

  • to share resources (article, websites, lessons, resources, etc.)
  • to start (or participate in) a dialogue on a particular issue
  • to promote (programs, events, movements, conferences, lectures, etc.)
  • to showcase (library displays, websites, makerspaces, workshops, etc.)

I used to regard Facebook only as a means of social communication, but it can obviously be so much more than that. It can be a valuable tool for professional learning and networking.

I spent some time today finding some FB pages that would add depth to my P.L.N. Check them out below.

Facebook pages I currently LOVE:

Through surfing some of these pages, I stumbled across some insightful and thought-provoking articles. One article, “The Rise of Bad Infographics“, criticizes the trend of contemporary infographics and is a must-read for those of us who are constantly creating new infographics for our websites or pamphlets. Another article, “For Many Library Visitors, I’m the Only Person They’ve Talked to All Day“, is an important reminder of the social impact library play in our patrons’ lives.

Through a librarian-friend’s Facebook post, I discovered Sync. If you haven’t heard of this yet – you are missing out! Every week until August 17 2016, this site is providing free access to two Y.A. audiobooks. YES – you heard that right – you can download free audiobooks every week!! The site’s mission is dedicated to promoting the concept of audiobooks to teenagers. This week, M.T. Anderson’s Symphony for the City of the Dead and Chris Weitz’s The Young World are available. I just enter in my email address and choose to download these titles to my Overdrive (which I already have so I can borrow books from my local library). Downloads do not delete after a certain amount of time either, so you can take your time listening to these texts.

Sidenote: Have any hesitations about audiobooks? Do you think of it as “cheating”? Check out this article (also a resource I came across through a Facebook post – one by my current professor actually), “Audiobooks: Is listening as good as reading?” by Martha Ross. In it, University of Virginia professor Dan Willingham is quoted saying, “research that breaks down how people learn to process written language suggests that once people master reading, their comprehension is the same, whether they are absorbing printed or narrated texts” (Ross, 2016, para. 16).

Overall, I think Facebook is a beneficial addition to my P.L.N. – “Like”.

Image Source: Huffington Post


For many library visitors, I’m the only person they’ve talked to all day. (2016). The Guardian. Retrieved from

Ross, M. (2016). Audiobooks: Is listening as good as reading? The Mercury News. Retrieved from

Tennant, R. (2016). The rise of bad infographics. The Digital Shift. Retrieved from

From Sea to Shining Sea

This week has me feeling the national pride. Of course, there’s the 4th of July to celebrate! Plus, the Copa America just ended, Wimbledon is on right now, and the Olympics are coming up!

American Flag.jpg

Image Source: New York Times

As mentioned in my previous post, broadening the scope of my P.L.N. will help expose me to different perspectives, trends, and stories. Today I will be exploring the American Library Association (A.L.A.), a national organization, and seeing if it would make a good addition to my P.L.N.

I think the A.L.A. website is a great reserve of information. It is a site I plan on visiting regularly (and perhaps I’ll even set up an RSS feed). There are myriad of resources available including links to publications, professional tools, online learning opportunities, job lists, and community connections.

I am going to highlight two of the resources I find quite valuable. The first is the link to “Banned and Challenged Books” (accessible through the menu on the left-hand side). When creating my library displays each year, I like to include current information such as the top ten most challenged books in the last year. I put this information on bookmarks or on the board itself. This year, I may provide a QR link that connects to the following video.

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They provide ideas and resources for how to promote Banned Books Week. Visit this page HERE and scroll through the options on the left-hand side (such as “Activity Ideas for Banned Books Week” and “Official Promotional Materials“). Last year, I printed out this poster to use in my displays:BBW15_518x800

Image Source: American Library Association

One of the display ideas that I’d like to reproduce is their promotion strategy of painting an entire display window black, with the exception of a small viewing hole. Over the black paint, paint the word “Caution” in big red letters. When curious patrons look through this peep hole, they will see a collection of banned or challenged books.

The other link I find extremely useful is their “ALA Online Learning” (accessible on the right-hand side of their homepage). They have a sizable list of webinars and eCourses, some free and some for a fee, on a variety of great topics. The School Libraries section offer such titles as “A 21st Century Approach to School Librarian Evaluation” (Free!), “Learn2Tweet: Build Your Twitter Talent 140 Characters at a Time” ($25 fee), and “Angry and Scared: Embracing the Concerned Parent” ($20/$25 member/nonmember fee). Many of these presentations include free resources that you can download, as well as links to related materials.

I decided to partake in the free webinar titled “A School Librarian’s Role in Preventing Sexting and Cyberbullying“. The teacher librarians in my district have decided that we want to collaborate on creating a parent presentation that concerns digital citizenship. Some of us plan to host a parent night, and some of us plan to deliver this instruction during school-planned meetings. For example, I have a parent group on my campus that meets once a month. I will be asking to be a presenter during one of these gatherings. The webinar was helpful in providing additional resources and inspiration. Laurie Nathan, the presenter, shared a relevant web resource: Netsmartz Workshop. This website offers information and presentations on all of the following issues:Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 6.13.41 PM.png

Image Source: Netsmartz Workshop

The issues I perused had videos (with accompanying speaking points), handouts, discussion starters, and statistics. One statistic that I plan to use in my parent presentation is that “About one-third of online teens (ages 12-17) have been cyberbullied. Girls are more likely to be targeted” (Lenhart, 2007).

When you have clicked into a specific issue, make sure you tour the links in the left-hand menu bar. Under the “Teach” tab, I would visit all of the provided pages. Under the “Watch” tab, I would recommend the “Real-Life Stories” tab. This website can be a resource for both educators and parents, as well as the students themselves. All material is age-appropriate.

The American Library Association provides many other ways of connecting with them, including their Facebook pagePinterest pageTwitter pageYouTube page. Their Facebook page alerted me to an upcoming webinar on advocacy I’d like to attend. If you’re interested too, click here. It’s a four-part series running in July and early August.


Lenhart A. Cyberbullying and Online Teens. Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2007.

This Blog is on Fire, Part I

If you missed the reference, today’s blog title should be sung in your best Alicia Keys voice. While I’m making clarifications, the blog I’m reviewing today is not literally on fire – just metaphorically (phew, glad we cleared that up!).

I spent some hours today searching for and comparing different Teacher Librarian blogs, and I have decided that today’s award goes to…..(drumroll please)….


Honorable Mentions:

Unpretentious Librarian

Watch. Connect. Read. – Exploring Children’s Literature through Book Trailers

*It should be noted here that this judgement is completely subjective and dependent entirely on my own preferences. No criteria other than personal choice went into this decision. I am simply utilizing this contrivance to expose myself and others to some of the impressive library blogs out there. 

The Unquiet Librarian is a blog created by high school librarian Buffy Hamilton, currently working at Chattahoochee High School in Georgia. Her posts include collaboration ideas, ways to assess student learning, reflections on her library practice, the promotion of student products, and much more.

One post I really enjoyed is titled “Podcasting with Spreaker“. I have never heard of Spreaker, let alone had the chance to read about it or experiment with it. I love hearing about new tech tools that can help me improve my library services. In Hamilton’s post, she discusses how her collaboration worked and the basics for the student assignment. She decided that students would be able to research any topic of interest and then synthesize the information they learn into a podcast. In order to bridge the gap from original research to final product, she created a Google slide show to guide them through the process. If you preview the documents below the slideshow, you will see other resources she provided for the students as well including her own model of the assignment and handouts for planning one’s podcast. Her entire blog post is vital reading though – as it gives a multitude of great advice for ensuring that this activity is successful. She includes a link to the finished products here.

Spreaker Plans & Pricing available HERE (yes, there is a FREE option).

I can see myself trying to replicate her activity, but also using this tool to create student book reviews. Currently, I have created a YouTube page for my high school where students publish book reviews. I would like to give them options though, and allow them to publish either audio or video versions depending on their preference.

I appreciated her End-of-the-Year Review presentation as well, and am interested in making one myself. I think it’s a great way to advocate for oneself and one’s library, and would recommend sharing it with administrators at one’s school. It also works as a reflection tool, identifying what went well and what goals can be set for the upcoming year(s). In this post, she also references using Canva to help create graphics and signs. This is another tool I have never heard of, and so I really started seeing Hamilton as a great resource to add to my P.L.N.

In order to experiment with at least one of these new tools, I made a Canva account and created this sign:


I know I will be utilizing this tool again, especially to create signs to post in my library (displays, flyers) and on my library webpage. It was easy to use, very intuitively designed. It has a large amount of free images to build your collage, and the downloading process for the final product was simple and quick.

In further reading, I found a related article titled “Technology Tuesday – 4 Ways to Use Canva in your Library” by Brooke Ahrens.

From honorable mention Unpretentious Librarian, I loved the program idea of a coloring contest. Yes, you heard that right, a COLORING CONTEST! It’s an easy passive program that everyone can participate in. I work at a high school library – and despite what some doubts people may have, high school students love the chance to color and be creative. I imagine the more finished products that are displayed, the more motivated other students will be to participate as well. Since the materials can easily be printed out, there is no major cost associated with it. She received her bookmarks from Demco, but you can easily print out bookmarks using this template from Dawn Nicole Designs. You can also visit a Pinterest board I created to gather some other templates here. You can easily relate this program to an upcoming event such as School Library Month, Teen Read Week, or Banned Books Week.


Ahrens, B. (2014, December 16). Technology Tuesday – 4 ways to use Canva in your library. Retrieved from

Fitzgerald, S. (2016, May 3). Coloring contest in the library – yes! Retrieved from

Hamilton, B. (2016, March 18). Podcasting with Spreaker. Retrieved from

Hamilton, B. (2016, May 26). Slideshow: Hooch learning studio end of year annual report. Retrieved from