#23mobilethings – 4. Maps

orange-pin-hi

For this topic I’m gonna talk about how Google maps applies to libraries.

Google crawls the web and various directories to populate Google Maps with places and landmarks. Most libraries will be a searchable “destination” in Google maps with name and address information. You don’t need to take any action to create this listing- it’s made from information extracted from web pages plus user contributions. You can “claim this business” so you control what information gets displayed. Or anyone can suggest edits to the information. I once made a suggestion to change the name of our library when the name Google’s listing gave us was far too similar to a local public library – we would get many phone calls from people who wanted the other library. Sometimes people would pull up driving directions from Google Maps and drive to our library – not even realizing that they were going to the wrong place! This problem has very much subsided since I fixed the name. It goes to show that people don’t usually go past Google for directional information like phone numbers and addresses. Not even to the relevant website, just the Google search results page, with information pulled from Google Maps. So it’s important to check your presence there. Adding photos, opening hours and other details will be notoced, too.

Another interesting thing is that if you have “location services” enabled it will track your every move on your smartphone. A new feature I noticed a few months ago is that it will use this information from users to create something like this:

 This can be pretty handy for clients if they want to come when it’s quiet. I’ve heard Google are working on a “live” version of this too so people can see how busy a location is right now.

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#23mobilethings – 2. Photos

instagram-logo-sketch

Social media is very visual. Platforms like Snapchat and Instagram have a lot of potential, I don’t think the majority of libraries have taken them up yet. Even on “traditional” sites like twitter and facebook, photo posts get much more engagement (in terms of metrics – clicks, likes, shares). They can be a great way of communicating what’s going on in the library. Photos of events, displays, new arrivals, new services, can communicate a lot. There’s always the issue of getting permission from people to use their photo, but it’s as simple as getting them to sign a clearance form.

One thing I’ve seen libraries do is set up an interesting “selfie” opportunity as part of a display or exhibition and asking patrons to take tag their photo with a particular hashtag can build community too. And maybe running competitions where users can send in a photo?

#23mobilethings – 1. Twitter

twitterbird

Hey, so I’m doing 23 mobile things. In the mobile spirit I’m doing it all on my android, so apologies in advance for the typos.

First off the ranks is twitter. I opened a twitter account in 2009 but it’s only in the past year or so that I’ve tried to be active with it. I followed a bunch of other librarians and try to post interesting content (I know that sharing links and retweeting isn’t enough, but it’s so easy!) It’s a great way to keep up with interesting developments in libraryland, and take part in activities like #BlogJune and 23 (research data) Things #23RDThings which I did this year, and were largely spurred on by twitter.

Twitter also enhances the experience of attending conferences. I find it amazing to sit in an auditorium where the only voice you can hear is the speaker, but everyone has their devices out and twitter is positively abuzz with conversations. It’s like a parallel dimension. It really enriches the experience of attending a conference.