Top Ten iPad Apps for Librarians

I’ve had an iPad for a number of weeks now and I find it’s really helping me organize information better. With the help of a few select apps I’ve downloaded I’m able to connect from anywhere, catch up on videos and reading, and maintain a social media presence. It was really useful at ALA Annual and I’ve heard other librarians say great things about their iPads too. These are a few of the apps that I think are essential for librarians.

  1. iBooksThis is Apple’s attempt at doing books and it does a pretty good job. Like most everything Apple does, they put thought into the user experience and it shows. The way the pages turn is pretty and you can see your books all on a shelf that you can look through. The selection in the Apple book store isn’t as good as the Amazon of Barnes and Noble book stores, which also both have apps. But it is decent and there are a lot of free books you can choose from too. Cost – Free
  2. StanzaAnother great ebook reader. They have books for purchase but also over 50,000 free titles from places like project Gutenburg. You can also import ebooks inPDF, ePub, or various other formats. It gives you a few more options for customization than iBooks does. Cost – Free
  3. EvernoteAn amazing app for note-taking that may make me switch from paper notebooks. Librarians are often in meetings or have great ideas but forget to bring a notebook or instead bring the wrong one. With Evernote you can sync notes across devices (I use it on my Android phone) and never lose notes. You can also take voice notes or capture webpages. This is one of the best tools I’ve found to capture ideas before they slip away. Cost – Free
  4. DropboxIf you have multiple devices (tablet, desktop, laptop, smartphone) then this is a must have apps. Dropbox allows you to sync files across the web and access them from anywhere. Save a document you were working on at home and read it on the road on your phone. Then edit it again at home on your laptop. It is super easy and integrates with a number of other apps too. Cost – Free up to 2GB of storage, reasonable pricing for more

  5. screenshot of dropbox

  6. TwitterificWe’re all aware that many librarians are social media butterflies, so a Twitter app is necessary. Whether you’re monitoring multiple searches for conference hashtags, chatting with your colleagues, or looking at different lists you’ve set up, Twitterific does it all well. It has a clean interface with not too much clutter. The only downside is that the free version does not support multiple accounts. So if you need that functionality for your library account too, you might want to look at Osfoora HD for $3.99. Cost – Free
  7. Dictionary.comThis app is exactly what it sounds like. Librarians can smith words with the best of them with this handy reference tool. It has a good interface and includes a thesaurus and word of the day (which I really like!) Cost – Free
  8. GoodReaderIt’s sometimes difficult for librarians to find the time to read scholarly literature. This is a very useful app for reading all sorts of different documents. I store Word and PDF files here like articles and reports for reading later when offline. It’s a little confusing with all the options for set up and organization, and Jason Griffey noticed that you may want to check your settings for security reasons. But for saving and reading different files, it is great. It also integrates with Dropbox! Cost – $0.99
  9. QuickOfficeA productivity app that allows full editing of both Word and Excel documents. It connects with services like Dropbox or Google Docs to make it easy to find your documents and edit them. This app turns the iPad into a full fledged office device. Cost – $9.99
  10. AudiobooksThis app uses the admirable Librivox recording project to make it easy to get over 2,800 classic audiobooks on your iPad. It automatically bookmarks your last spot and has a built in browser so you can surf the web while listening (kinda multitasking). Cost – $0.99
  11. WikipanionAnother quick reference app that uses Wikipedia entries and displays them in a visually pleasing format for the iPad. It cuts down on some of the annoying extras from the Wikipedia site and gives you just content, nice and clean. Cost – Free

There are 13,000+ iPad apps and growing in the App Store, and this list is by no means comprehensive. What are some of your favorite apps? Did I miss some? Post a link in the comments.

Andy Burkhardt


  1. Thanks for sharing this list. I'm still trying to find a twitter iPad app that I like, and I'm not impressed with Twitterific. I love all the features available in the offical Twitter for iPhone app, but it looks horrible scaled up on the iPad screen. I've downloaded about 5 twitter apps, but none do all I need them to; some can view shared links, and links but not profiles, or vis versa. Tweeterna 2 is the best free one I've found so far.

    As a librarian the apps I would recommend on top of yours would be:

    Txtr: which is necessary to view borrowered EBL ebooks, but again it's not native on the iPad so doesn't look too hot, but does mean we can “lend” out DRM protected books from http://www.eblib.com/

    Howcast app: it's free and it's full of short videos on how to do stuff.

    I think the magazines and journal apps will change the way we interact with their content. Popular science was so well designed for the iPad, Wired is okay, but not as good.

    Kindle for iPad is better then iBooks IMO. But our iBooks store in New Zealand doesn't have any out of copyright content to purchase so iBooks is of limited use at the moment.

    What's really exciting is the growing collection of Kindle store books with auido and video that can be viewed on the Kindle for iPad app. This technology could change non-fiction books. Here's a list their current titles of http://tiny.cc/s020d

  2. hey just a quick comment (taking a fiver from this metadata paper that is killing me) to say – I Love Your Blog! Been an email subscriber for about a month and really enjoy the content. You have the exact job I want.
    Keep it up!

  3. Thanks for these great additions. I'll have to try Tweeterna 2. I agree with your take on magazine/journal apps. The ability to include video, sound, and other interactive features with traditional text could really change things. A different business model could emerge where you're purchasing the new content through the app store or elsewhere. And titles like Popular Mechanics and Wired were right on target with their apps. This is the way they were meant to deliver content.

    Those audio and video books through the Kindle were news to me, but it's such a great idea. Looking at the list, I used a Rick Steve's guide when I was studying abroad. With audio and video it would enhance it so much. How-to sorts of books would be great for these enhanced books too. You're right that it is exciting. If the medium is the message the message is changing. This is a very different different way of getting content.

    I've got a few more apps to download. 🙂

  4. Thanks for recommending TwoScreens. I was annoyed by nothing getting displayed on a projector with the dongle. The other one I found was VGA Browser that allows you to show what you have up on the web. I’ll have to try out Twittelator.

  5. Yeah, multiple twitter pages + facebook + foursquare is nice. It’s a little annoying though that they only have the iphone version available and that they don’t have a scaled up iPad version (see Jenny’s comment).

  6. I like HootSuite (even the Lite version) better than Twitteriffic for the iPad, because it lets me monitor my library's Facebook Page, my personal Facebook Profile, and my Foursquare profile from a single interface — although, the interface is a bit smaller than I prefer.

  7. I would also recommend a few additional ones:

    iAnnotate PDF reader – lets you add notes, highlights, stickies to PDFs. Very useful.

    Keynote – for making/tweaking quick presentations. Much less richly featured than a desktop presentation tool, but it's a good tool for getting started or making last-minute edits.

    TwoScreens – if you have the VGA dongle, you can connect the iPad to a projector, but most apps actually don't send signal out to that port. It's not true mirroring of what you see on the screen. TwoScreens will let you show things like web pages and any particular album of images on the projector. In a pinch, you can use this and the iPad screenshot trick (home button + sleep button together) to make a quickie presentation/slide deck.

    My personal favorite twitter app for iPad is Twittelator, but I'd really love to see a Hootsuite app scaled up to iPad size.

  8. These Apps sound great. Thanks for sharing the information. I keep hinting to my wife that Santa should bring me an iPad and iPhone, but Santa isn’t listening very well…

  9. Has this list ever been updated? How much change would there be for 2012 top tem iPad APPs for librarians.

  10. Johanna, it hasn’t been updated. But I could definitely start thinking about a new, updated version of this post (especially since it was written almost two years ago). What apps would you want to see on a new, updated list?

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