Put Your Library on the Map, Part 2: The Waiting Game

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Put Your Library on the Map, Part 2: The Waiting Game

By Ashley Krenelka Chase

“I’d be happy if I could think that the role of the library was sustained and even enhanced in the age of the computer.”
-Bill Gates

In Part 1 of this series, which was published as a Spectrum online feature in late October 2012, we discussed the process of uploading library floor plans into Google Maps Floor Plans with the hope of using part two to explain the actual utilization of those floor plans to aid patrons in the library. As with most things, however, this process has not gone as seamlessly as we had hoped, and lessons are being learned along the way.

The process of uploading the Dolly & Homer Hand Law Library’s floor plans to Google was simple and straightforward. After the publication of Part 1, and with the help of Anna Russell at the Pardee Legal Research Center in San Diego, getting in touch with a Google Indoor Maps associate was also simple and pleasant. The Google representative was available to answer all of my questions both on the phone and by email and quickly arranged for a floor mapping team to “walk” our library.

In early December, approximately three months after our initial floor plans were uploaded, a team of five surveyors arrived in the early hours of the evening. As it turns out, Google hires independent contractors, most (if not all) of who have some sort of military background, to travel around different regions, uploading “walks” of indoor spaces using satellite signals. Armed with nothing more than GPS-equipped smart phones, these five individuals each walked every inch of public space on the three flours of our library . . . twice. After nearly four hours, the indoor mapping was complete, and the walks uploaded by the surveyors were sent back to Google for review.

So I waited a month, then another, and finally was thrilled to log in and see that my floor plans had, in fact, been reviewed by Google. In a burst of inspiration, I downloaded the Google Floor Plan Marker App (available on Google Play) to my Android phone and prepared to add points of interest to our library. The Floor Plan Marker App indicated that I needed to walk each floor of the library, end-to-end, and mark each location on the floor map where I stopped and turned around. Ever the dutiful student/librarian, I did just that and submitted my walks of the third floor. And then they disappeared. Frustrated, I emailed my representative at Google and told him what happened and how excited I was to move forward.

Unfortunately, I was told that the floor plans appearing on the app were a glitch and that they are not ready yet. The process can take up to six months from the time the surveyors come to the library, leaving me with three more months in Google limbo, waiting to move forward.

In the meantime, I am noting points of interest throughout the library and determining which will be of interest to our students, faculty, staff, and public patrons, with the hope that I will be able to distinguish resources based on patron type and anticipated library use. When the maps are ready, I am hopeful that adding points of interest will go as seamlessly as the original uploading process and that our library users’ experience will be enhanced by additional technology.

In Part 3 of this series I will discuss the final steps in this long process, including adding points of interest and comments from users of the floor maps!

Ashley Krenelka Chase (akrenelk@law.stetson.edu) is the reference and electronic services librarian at Stetson University College of Law’s Dolly & Homer Hand Law Library in Gulfport, Florida.