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Technology Thankfulness

As the Thanksgiving holiday draws near, the time has come to appreciate the things we hold dear to us, such as family, friends, and good health. One thing that is sometimes taken for granted is how much technology has changed the way we live and made our lives easier. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’ve highlighted a few of the various technologies that our staff members here at Portland Public Library are thankful for! Hopefully you will find a useful piece of technology that you didn’t know about before that might positively affect your life.


Cindy’s Pick:

Click here to find out more about Insight Timer

I love using the meditation app, Insight Timer, which I believe is available for both iOS and Android users.  It has literally thousands of different free meditations, peaceful music, courses and the ability to simply use the app as a timer, as the name indicates, by sounding a bell at the beginning and end of the meditation time you have set.

I have so many favorite meditations and teachers and you can save them as favorites, so you can easily go back to them.  I have used this app for a couple of years now, but during the pandemic it has been of so much help to me in falling asleep at night to peaceful music that helps me to relax into sleep.
Much of the items on the app are free, as I mentioned, but you can also join their pro level and have the ability to download meditations, take courses that would otherwise not be available to you and join in live meditation and yoga classes that are happening all over the world.


Rachael’s Pick:

Click here to find out more about Instant Pots

I am thankful for my Instant Pot.  My family and I love to eat, and when time permits, we love to cook.  But cooking a healthy meal every night with two kids, busy schedules and not a lot of extra time in the evenings was getting hard.  Well, that all changed when we bought an Instant Pot a few years ago.  Now we can cook root vegetables in a matter of minutes, soups, beans, pasta dishes, and even meat for things like tacos and burritos that take very little time to prep and are warm and waiting for us at the end of the day.  Not only are the meals healthy, but by being able to easily make our own yogurt and bone broths we cut down on buying single use plastics and are able to use vegetable scraps and leftover bones which would otherwise go to waste.


Casey’s Pick:

Casey’s niece’s birthday party in Animal Crossing

One of my favorite hobbies is playing video games with friends. The feeling of sharing laughs with your buddies while trying to beat a tough video game is one that will never get old to me! During this pandemic, the joy of sharing a couch and passing the controller to a friend is one that has been put on hold for the time-being. Luckily, we’re living in the digital age, where we can still do the things we enjoy virtually! Video gaming with friends has never been easier and more possible than today, with a myriad of different ways to connect with each other online. That’s why I’m so thankful to have my Nintendo Switch! The Nintendo Switch is a portable gaming console that you can take with you and play on the go, or plug into your television to play on the big screen. Although I’ve been mostly stuck inside the house for the past eight or so months, I’m very grateful to live during a time where I can still enjoy the hobbies I love with friends. The game Animal Crossing for the Nintendo Switch has been a particular godsend, which allows users to simulate living on a remote island inhabited by anthropomorphic animals. You and your friends can visit each others’ islands and show off everything you’ve accomplished! My cousin had a virtual birthday party for his daughter in the game, and I showed up bearing gifts! It was a moment I’m very thankful to have had, and one only made possible by the technological age we’re living in.


Abraham’s Pick:

Abraham hard at work

For me, a good reliable laptop is essential. I use one for working-from-home, and another for all my personal research and writing. In the photo, I’m transcribing my handwritten notes from last winter at the Boston Athenaeum. Only paper and pencils are allowed in the manuscripts room. (I permit candy at my dining table!!) My favorite writing app is Corel WordPerfect; it never interferes with my phrasing, and I can easily switch languages without my thoughts being derailed.


Kristin’s Pick:

Click here to find out more about Tinybeans

I am super thankful for the app Tinybeans. It allows my partner and me to share pictures of Rex while continuing to hold ownership of the photos (unlike Facebook and various other social
media platforms). This way we can manage who has access to the photos and prevent too much sharing and then not knowing where the photos may end up.
It has allowed his family, especially his grandparents, to see daily updates which they love since they can’t come visit. People can like and comment on the photos just like Instagram! And you can do videos which I’ve been using a lot since Rex is way more interesting now that he’s moving and growing so fast!
I’ve gotten a lot of thank you notes from our family and friends for using it – and have had friends who also recently had kids use it too! It’s amazing!


Carrie’s Pick:

Click here to start translating via Google Translate

The most useful technology that I used this year, while we were still open to the public, was Google Translate. The ease of using the voice-to-voice translation and the smiles of recognition on our young patron’s faces made my day every time. So many of our young patrons speak languages other than English as their first language and Google translate was able to fill in the gaps, explain complex issues, or in some cases be our only way to communicate. I miss the young people and families every day and look forward to the time when we can all be together again learning and growing together.


Raminta’s Pick: 

A Panda enjoying some bamboo

Raminta has shared something that we think all of us can be thankful for. The publication Library Journal has compiled a list of animal care organizations that host live feeds of their inhabitants frolicking for all of us to see! It’s amazing to be able to instantly tune in to watch pandas chewing on bamboo or exotic fish swimming about. Only in this day and age is something like this possible! Nothing warms the heart more than witnessing animals living happy and healthy lives. That’s certainly something we can be thankful for! See the list here!


Rob’s Pick:

Cell phones: The modern day encyclopedia

Technology is useful only when it meets a real, human need. Newer phones have added face scans for securing access, but in the era of pandemic, wearing a mask is essential.

Like many in my work, I feel the pressure to keep up with the latest inventions. I’m grateful though for my older phone with a touch sensor, which still works even when masked up. So much for my fear of missing out.


Deb’s Pick:
Technology may be a wonderful thing, but getting to know how to use new technologies can be a daunting task. This is especially the case during this pandemic, which has found many of us grappling with Zoom and other programs that are complex and new to us. Deb, our friendly neighborhood HR Consultant has shared that she is thankful for those around us who help us use technology to its best ability!

Deb and Andy discovering the wonders of Zoom!

“Andy has been my technology dream helping me to navigate, reminding me where to find things on SharePoint, and pointing me in the right direction. I could NOT figure out PPL’s technology working remotely without his guidance, patience, and good humor.”


Many thanks to the Andy’s of the world, who help us along the way when we find that technology has gotten the best of us!


Portland Public Library wishes everybody a happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving!