Book Review: The Researcher's Digital Toolbox, by Denise Barrett Olson

Prepared by Gena Philibert-Ortega.

This ebook by Denise Barrett Olson offers the family history researcher a guide to learning about tools that can assist them as they navigate the new world of genealogical research that is light years from the days of taking a pencil and a paper notebook to the local library and searching through the paper card catalog. Not meant to be a comprehensive guide to all the tools available to the researcher, this guide does provide a nice introduction to some great websites, apps and technology that can assist the genealogist as they go from searching at home to collaborating with family to researching out in the field whether it be an archive or a cemetery.

I'm guessing I am like a lot of people. I'm not much interested in reading technology manuals, so I just explore and dive into a website, app or new gadget and then most likely use only a fraction of the functions of that resource. For others, I know that technology and the amount that is available to family historians can seem overwhelming. It reminds me of what someone told me recently as I was teaching about Google. She said to me "all of this is great but how do you know what's the most important for you to use and how to use it?"

The "Researcher's Digital Toolbox" answers that question. Whether you are well-versed in using technology and Web 2.0 features or you are new to it, this is a must read. This book reads like a chat with a close, knowledgeable friend about ways that you can improve your research. There's no doubt that Denise knows resources to help you make the most of your research time, how to collaborate and how to take your research on the road. No long boring discussions about technology here. What you will find is introductions to tools and ideas and explanations on why and how to use them. Tools covered include email, web browsing, Google, bookmarks, notes, screen captures, PDFs, Skype, photos, mobile technology, apps, smartphones, tablets, scanners and eReaders.

Having looked at hundreds of ebooks on my eReader, tablet, smartphone and computer, I was happy to see this book was formatted nicely for use on an eReader and contains extras including hyperlinks and the ability to enlarge images. These features available in some ebooks allow the reader to interact with the book. In addition, Denise has included links on her blog where she updates information about websites mentioned in the book and includes other links. With a touch on the link for her Toolbox Resources, found near the end of the book, I was taken to her blog where I had access to links for websites about email, web browsers, Google products, news readers, Diigo, research related apps, photo archives, cloud storage, mobile providers and hardware.

After reading Denise's book I will admit that while I was familiar with most of what she wrote, having taught genealogists about technology, Denise did offer up ideas that I had not considered before. I'm excited to try out some of her ideas as I expand my own digital toolbox.

This book is available as a PDF file, or for the Nook, Kindle or iBooks. Reasonably priced at $2.99, this is a great find for those who want to learn great tips for their research. You can learn more about the book on Denise's website.

Disclaimer: I do know Denise and she was kind enough to post an interview with me in promotion of my new book "From the Family Kitchen." However, Denise never asked me to review her book nor has she discussed her book with me. I did pay for my own copy of this ebook from a third-party website as well.

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