Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Tools Of The Trade: Annotary

Believe it or not, research to me is akin to going on a treasure hunt.  Give me a topic and I get lost in another world.  One of the best things we can teach our students is to access, evaluate and organize information that best answers predetermined questions.  We not only want them to be independent learners and users of information but to be creative in their sharing and collaboration.  When confidence replaces frustration particularly on a subject of interest they might even have as much fun as I do.

Toward the end of November Heather Moorefield, education librarian at Virginia Tech and former chair of the American Association of School Librarians Best Websites for Teaching and Learning mentioned on Twitter an application that was launched in May 2012.  This free site offers users (13 years or older) the ability to bookmark pages, highlight portions of those pages, add notes and share with others.  Annotary bills themselves as: the best way to keep track of what you read. 

When opening to the home page across the top you can select Explore, About, Search, Login or Sign Up.  If you choose Explore you can look through Public Bookmark Feeds, Explore Collections, Explore Groups, a Random Collection or a Random User.  The About section explains the formation of the site and its developers.  A keyword can be typed into Search to check for previously created Annotary collections.

You can sign up using your Facebook account or by entering in a first and last name, email address, user name (which becomes your unique URL) and a password. As soon as this is completed a welcome email is sent and you are requested to add the Annotary toolbar browser extension to either Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari.  When the extension has been added your dashboard, homepage, opens.

There are two ways to begin: go to a web page and click on the Annotary button to open the toolbar or on the right-hand side of the screen click on the green Add New Bookmark button.  Before beginning please note that you can click on other buttons, Create Collection or Create Group found in the same section.  A running tally of collections, bookmarks, groups and people in your network is shown beneath these options.

If you click on the green Add New Bookmark button another window pops up asking you to add the web page URL, any notes and a collection name.  After a bookmark has been added to a created collection the collection page appears.  A collection can be edited, deleted, printed or shared. (An individual bookmark can also be edited, shared and sorted.)

When the Annotary button on the browser toolbar is clicked at a website the same options are available as well as creating a new collection.  On the side of the window are icons representing adding a bookmark, highlighting, sharing the highlighted page, seeing highlights of others and going to Annotary.  

A page must be bookmarked before it can be highlighted.  When a portion has been highlighted a small note pops up.  If you wish to delete a portion or all of the highlighted area a tiny trash can appears at the end of the highlighted section so this task can be accomplished.

When you go back to the collection any of the pages which have been highlighted will have a yellow line running down the left side.  When the Share button is selected you can share this collection via Facebook, Twitter, Google + and LinkedIn.  It can be sent to others using Gmail, Yahoo mail, Hotmail and AOL Mail.  A unique URL is created for each collection.

While I used this tool to simply gather websites about snow, snowflakes, Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley and the making of virtual snowflakes, I can see using it to not only collect resources for more specific projects (author or genre studies) but also to create an online scavenger hunt writing questions in the notes which can be answered using the highlighted text.  Here is the link to my collection titled Snow.

This web 2.0 application has all the features which make it advantageous for use; simplicity, ability to group similar pages in collections, highlighting of pertinent portions, the addition of notes and sharing are all pluses.  I recommend Annotary for use in gathering resources about any topic of interest for individual or group use.  Creating groups within your account allows for easy collaboration.


  1. Thank you for your explanation and review of Annotary. I'm an English teacher, and I'm wondering what your opinion is of Annotary vs. some other similar services (namely: Diigo and Evernote). Are you familiar with these other services, and if so, which do you prefer?

    I'm thinking that Annotary might be the best one (because it's simple, plus it's OK to create groups), but Diigo feels much more flexible. Plus, everything on Annotary is public, whereas Diigo allows privacy.

    1. Mark:
      First, you are welcome. I try to make sense of each web 2.0/3.0 application for colleagues. While I have heard of Diigo and Evernote I have not explored them enough to give you an educated answer. I do know as of the first of 2013 Annotary now has the option to make your collection public or private. They got requests from users to add this option. When you click on Create Collection you add the title, description and select public or private. I can change my created collections to private now but when I do that the share button is no longer available. You might want to check out the options for a paid account.

      Not to confuse your questions but have you looked at Clipboard http://librariansquest.blogspot.com/2012/06/virtual-post-it-boards-clipboard.html

      or Pinside http://librariansquest.blogspot.com/2012/11/virtual-post-it-boards-pinside.html
      I compare others in that post.
      Thanks for stopping by and I hope I have helped you.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful note. I didn't know that Annotary now offers private collections. This is a great feature.

    I'll do more research and more thinking. I'd like to use one application, but each one has different strengths. Thanks also for your posts about Clipboard and Pinside.

    You should definitely check out Diigo and Evernote in more detail!

    1. You're welcome Mark. I've had Evernote on my radar for quite awhile. I will give them both a try. Thanks.