Google Apps for Libraries

David Collins, Associate Director for Public Services in Library, and Barron Koralesky, Associate Director for Information Technology Services, Macalester College  

Using a mix of demonstration, hands-on experience and conversation, participants will dig deeper into Google and Google Apps.   You may want to bring your lab coat.  Macalester has been using Google Apps for nearly a year, and will share some experiences as well as ways we have been integrating / leveraging Google into the day-to-day life of our library and institution.  We want to know how others are using Google, and hope to develop a shared “best practices” project as one outcome of this session.

Important that Library and IT collaborate

3 sections – Presentation, Hands-on, Group Reports

Had year long exploration of email.

  • Found and picked Google
  • Soon after had massive power outage condensing transition to a couple of weeks.
  • What happens if you go to Google?
    • seperated security and privacy
    • Google does security well (much larger resources)
    • Privacy
      • Assumption – everything sent by email is not private

Education account does not have Reader, Groups, and ?.

What it has changed in Campus

  • more open environment – perpetual beta
  • new things appear and don’t know about it until after the fact.
    • traditional IT prefers limited controlled support of applications.

Google Books and WorldCat Local

  • Google may have helped with transition to WorldCat Local.

Google Scholar

  • didn’t at first get the importance of Preferences.
    • Can set it up so that you are using library resources
      • “Scholar Preferences” to right of tool bar
  • Bibliographic management – can set up direct link to RefWorks
    • Import into RefWorks under individual search item

Google Docs

  • different usage – varies by user
    • some expect training documentation
  • eliminate need for attachments
  • This presentation in his account (shot of his account)
    • mentions that it is more than just docs, + spreadsheets, presentations
  • Student project – silent auction  for New Orleans (Form)
  • Using it in Teaching
    • Great value in classroom
      • Collaborative writing –
      • more transparency
        • see revision history (looks different in each document type)
        • compare version
      • eliminates need for version control (central document)
    • using in Library for strategic planning documents.
    • Can work offline through Google Gears
  • Google Forms – appeared 6 months ago
    • web services put this in for student, faculty use
    • ITS ticket survey
      • satisfied with service? – attach this to any closed ticket email.
    • Shows spreadsheet that it populates
      • also showed graphs that can be created from it.
    • Data types
      • text
      • paragraph
      • multiple choice
      • checkboxes
      • choose from a list
      • scale

Google Reader (not part of education suite)

  • Asked about RSS – who knows what it is?, who uses it?, daily?, use Google Reader?.
  • Why not built in?

Google Talk

  • Virtual reference or helpdesk
  • Web conferencing (video chat)
    • only 1 to 1
    • could bring in one guest to a conference
    • he says smoother than skype
    • Demo – can bring up on presentation screen (full screen)
      • can’t text chat at the same time in full screen but can in smaller
    • Based on Jabber, so can be used with Meebo

Google Custom Search

  • benefit is that you can restrict to specific sites
    • ex. within liberal arts institutions look for facebook
    • different portals for disciplines.

Google Tricks

  • Earthquakes
  • Time in other countries

Google Photos – Picasa

  • Standout items
    • Geotags
    • Face recognition software

 Hands-On Time

  • Created a Custom Search for biology

Fourth Grader is using Google Docs

Group responses to these questions:

  • How is Google used in your library?
  • What did you try today?
  • What did you find surprising/interesting?
  • How will you use this in your library?

Answers from participants

UW Stout

  • Google calendar for lib hours, embedding Google preview in WorldCat

U Nebraska – Omaha

  • Looking at Gmail
    • Macalester is one of the first to go campus-wide

Google Maps talking about Fair Use

Only officially using Google Scholar

Hamline – custom search

Grandview univeristy

  • Nothing official yet
  • Likes forms, transparent grading

St Thomas

  • docs for library hours
  • Analytics

MN Historical Society

  • Blocked from Google Mail
  • Individuals use it for collaborating

What about conversation part of Gmail, can’t turn it off. Why move away from Microsoft with which most are familiar with?

  • Google search tech is advantage.
  • Conversations help once you can get used to them. (Mac has had no complaints after time)

Gmail used in public libraries

  • Hated it for a month – tried again later and loved it.
  • Cuts out overhead (even if you pay for user less)
  • Better bandwidth (used additional money for this)

Calendar is used in many instances. Mac didn’t expect this but it happened as time went on.

Widget for iGoogle home page, embedded into Webpage.

Good for Netbooks – get stuff from the cloud.


  • benefit she sees – Google Groups

St Paul Public

  • Google forms is enticing
  • Teaching public
  • Can get above limitation of bad hardware.

Mentioned CommonCraft videos which are great intros to Google Docs stuff.

Google Talk – don’t have to travel to the “mother ship”

Karen Wittenborg quote about libraries.


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