(Google) Drive Your Library

by Ashley Mancill, Senior Assistant, INALJ Alabama

(Google) Drive Your Library

ashleymancillAn overwhelming number of patrons I assist in the library have Google email accounts, yet only a handful of them use the Google Drive service it comes with. Most of them have never even heard of Drive. And more and more often, I find myself teaching patrons how to use the cloud-based storage system and its web editors.

Drive is great for storing and organizing personal documents, which is why many libraries provide in-house workshops, LibGuides, and one-on-one reference help. But it’s also a fast and easy tool that library staff can use to collaborate, quickly retrieve documents, and manage workflows.

Here are a few ways to use Google Drive behind the scenes at the library:

• Collect and share department statistics using Sheets

• Create a checklist for training new staff

• Similarly, compose or store training materials and orientation documents for new employees (such as the library’s strategic plan, a copy of the budget, and an organizational chart)

• Compile a listing of software vendors and create a spreadsheet comparing packages, features, pricing, and ease-of-use

• Upload PDFs of documents that line staff may need readily available and can easily access such as: the library’s policy and internet use policy; volunteer applications; handouts on library resources and instructional guides; and brochures and informational pamphlets

• Share programming ideas with department supervisors and others who work in the department and track expenses

• Create a slideshow presentation of the newest additions to the library’s collection in Slides to play on a digital display (such as a stand-alone computer or smart TV) or stream on the library’s website

• Use Forms to get feedback by creating surveys for patrons who have participated in programming events and whose contact information you have

• If your library has graphic designer or someone well versed in web technology on staff, see if that individual can integrate surveys created in Google Forms into the library’s website for patrons to access remotely. PDFs of other documents such as Interlibrary Loan forms and book request forms are also great ideas to consider adding

• Use Drive to store photos and graphics for the library website

• Create a staff communication document to share reminders, important information about happenings in the community, brief announcements that relate to changes in policies and procedures, etc.

• For academic and research librarians as well as those who are researching and writing grants, use Drive to save and organize research notes and sources

One of the benefits of using Drive is that it automatically converts documents to a Google format and also allows those who have access the option of downloading a copy in a format that his or her computer recognizes (pdf, docx, csv, ods, etc). Because not every staff member will need to have access to all library documents, department managers and document owners can set viewing and editing privileges so that professional staff can access and modify documents that relate to their work and library operations while nonprofessional staff can access documents shared with them to carry out their duties and responsibilities (which varies from library to library and may or may not include editing privileges).

Google Drive provides free users with 15 GB of space. Systems and libraries with larger budgets that are interested in moving to cloud-based storage may opt to purchase one of two plans that provide 30GB or unlimited storage space and includes business emails. While having all that extra storage space has its benefits, it’s unlikely most libraries will need that much space for at-work collaboration and sharing (unless storing and sharing large files or files that are graphic heavy). Additionally, librarians and staff would need to consider the sensitive nature of some documents (i.e., information that is better left on a hard drive than on a cloud). For libraries with smaller budgets in need of some cloud storage or ones that are just interested in simple office software without the price tag, there’s the option of creating individual or shared Google accounts for staff to use (example: librarynamecirculation@gmail.com) and allocating storage across Drives accordingly. Administrators concerned with the addition of a Google+ profile will be happy to know that feature is easily disabled.