OneTab for Research Consultation

posted in: Tech Tip | 0

Do you open lots of tabs when helping patrons at your reference desk or in your office? Ever wished you could easily send all of the great stuff you found to the person you are helping? OneTab is a free Chrome extension that allows you to do just that. Basically it condenses all of your tabs into one list. You can then restore the tabs on your list as you need them, or restore them all at once. This list can also be titled and shared with others. Here is a short list of LIS Open Access Journals I quickly created as an example.

Picture of research desk at WWU

At The Desk


I have found OneTab to be really helpful in my reference work because I can quickly condense all of the resources the patron and I found into one convenient link. It is most useful for research that involves a lot of weblinks, less useful for articles behind paywalls (see downsides section below). Another nice thing about this is that if the patron is willing to let me email them the link, then we both have each other’s contact info. I don’t know about you, but with more in-depth research help, I frequently think of a few other sources or techniques after the patron leaves. Typically I would have no way to provide any follow up, but now that I am using OneTab with certain kinds of questions, I do have a way to follow up. From my experience, students really like this and I have yet to have anyone turn down getting emailed the links from our consultation session. It saves both of us the trouble of writing things down and it can be a nice reminder for the patron.


Other Uses


OneTab is also nice for personal use. It saves computing power to use OneTab, they claim it can save up to 95% of your memory. I also use it at the end of the day so that I can pick up from the same spot again tomorrow. For personal use, OneTab can keep multiple lists from your previous sessions.  I have also begun to play with using it as a tidy way to make bibliographies of web resources. You can also do nice value added things like providing a link to class LibGuide, the library homepage or a page with your contact information. When you share a list of tabs it generates a QR code, which is cool, or at least not a bad thing, but I think the QR moment has passed and I don’t know if its coming back.



The only downside I have found with this tool is that some of our library resources, like subscription databases, are not able to link and restore the way other web pages do. Unless I am missing something, I have yet to find a way to edit a URL in OneTab and make a workaround for this issue. I tried using permalinks, but unfortunately, you can’t save a page until you load it, and once you paste a permalink and hit enter to load the page, the url no longer holds that permalink. I wish there was a way to manually edit a URL in OneTab for these kind of cases. Until a permalink solution in OneTab, you could create a web document with a list of permalinks and add that document to the OneTab set you are sharing. Even with this limitation, I have found OneTab to be very useful and I highly recommend giving it a try and seeing how it could fit into your workflows.



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