Setting up a Google Plus Page for your Library is Easy

g+A day or so ago, Google Plus finally opened up organizational Google Plus “Pages” to everyone. These are similar in concept to Facebook Pages: a Google Plus Page is for brands, organizations, and businesses, and a Google Plus Profile is for individuals.

I just set up my library’s Google Plus Page, and it was really easy to do. Here’s what I did:

  1. First, you need a personal Google Plus Profile. Just like Facebook, Google wants you to be a real person (here’s a link to mine if you’re curious).
  2. Go here -https://plus.google.com/u/0/pages/create – to set up the Page
  3. Choose a category for your library. I chose “Company, Institution or Organization” for ours.
  4. Fill in your Institution’s name and URL. I chose to put in our full name (Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library) rather than the shortened “topekelibrary” that we often use for social media sites, because our full name shows up on the account.
  5. Select a Category – really, a subcategory of the “Company, Institution or Organization” thing you picked up in #3 above. This gives you a lot of suggestions … none of which are Libraries. I ended up choosing Institution (though Government Agency, Education, or Other would have worked ok too).
  6. Click Create.
  7. Then, you’re given the option to Share your new Google Plus Page with all your Google Plus friends (I did that, but you don’t have to).

After that, I fleshed out our account info a little bit by doing these things:

  • Added a photo for the G+ icon (our library’s logo for now)
  • Asked our Marketing dept for some pictures to add on the Photos tab
  • Created some Circles – I kept the Following circle for random follows, then created these additional Circles: Customers (for library patrons), Staff (for library staff), and Librarians (for librarians who don’t work at my library but want to follow)
  • Added links to our Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and Flickr accounts
  • Finally, I sent out our first status update message – “Just setting up Topeka Library’s dandy new Google Plus Page for organizations. Let’s explore it together!”

That’s pretty much it. What will we do with it? For starters, I’ll probably post a couple things a week there, to see if other people in our service area are interested in using Google Plus to connect with the library. After that (I’ll give it 6 months or so) we’ll see.

A couple other examples of Google Plus Library Pages:

updateJoe Murphy has a great post on Google Plus Pages for Libraries. Check it out!

Cool! Now the question is … what will your library DO with a Google Plus Page, now that they are available?

image by Bruce Clay

Changing Face of Privacy

I’m leading a webinar on Facebook tomorrow, and because of that, I’ve been thinking a lot about changes I’m seeing in online privacy.

So, as librarians, we historically have been defenders of our patrons’ right to privacy. It’s in our Code of Ethics: “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.”

On the opposite end of that are some pretty hip social media companies, like Google Plus and Facebook. Those two companies seem to have an unstated goal of making our world open and transparent … or at least, as open and transparent as we want to be.

Facebook does this by setting default privacy settings to Public. Google Plus does this (at least for now) by requiring us to use our real names on accounts.

Interestingly enough, some of our library tools are pushing for openness in different ways, too. Here are two examples of that:

  • Many of us are familiar with the Overdrive/Amazon deal. Amazon knows what your patrons have checked out, because they send them an offer to buy the ebook 3 days before it’s due. Amazon is, in essence, using what us librarians consider private info that we would never share, to sell ebooks to our patrons. It’s actually a handy thing to do… but flies in the face of our privacy ethics.
  • My library is in the process of moving to Polaris for our ILS/Library catalog. One really cool feature we’ll be getting is public lists. As a patron, I will be able to keep a list of books that I’ve read … and make that public, embed it on my blog, etc, via an RSS feed. It’s an opt-in feature, but still… very public, and very different from what us libraries have traditionally done.

This brings up quite a few questions in my mind:

  • Are libraries ready for opt-in/opt-out transparency?
  • Are we ready to check TOS agreements to catch and discuss things like that with vendors?
  • Some of us are bound by local or state laws on privacy. Are we ready to have discussions about those laws?
  • At the ALA level … are we ready to start discussing potential changes to our code of ethics and other privacy-driven discussions at a national level?
  • Are you ready to protect your own level of privacy
  • Are you ready to learn privacy settings in each online tool, and teach these to your customers?
So – what do you think? And how is your library addressing privacy issues online? I want to know!

Google Plus – Should you and your Library be there?

Google Plus is all the rage this week – invites have started spreading around (here’s a link to my Google Plus account – feel free to friend me!).

Some tech leaders have been making big claims about Google Plus, saying things like it will replace blogging, they’re moving from Facebook to Google Plus, it will take over Facebook or Twitter, etc.

Ok … Google Plus is only a week or so old. WAY too early to predict the demise of anything – especially of something like Facebook, with its 600 gazillion followers. Also remember that this is a third try for Google – Waves and Buzz both sorta fizzled out. let’s give it a good 6 months to a year to see if it survives.

On to the more important questions – should YOU be using Google Plus? Should your Library/organization?

You – this one’s easy. If you get an invite (or have an account already), by all means sign up and play around with it. Friend people, do some posting, try a video chat. Get familiar with the tool. Then either use it or not … that part really depends on you. But since it has some early potential in becoming another useful social media tool … why not at least play with it a bit?

Your library/organization – this one’s a bit more tricky. Or not – Google Plus isn’t supporting organizational accounts right now, according to this article from Search Engine Land. This article from ReelSEO goes one further, saying Google Plus will shut down an organizational account (though there are a couple out there [DLK – oops. Google found those, and they’re now 404-nothing found pages. You might check this out for some news orgs, from Moonflowerdragon in my comments] anyway).

So for the time being anyway, Google Plus is an individual-only network. That’s great, because it gives you time to play with the new tool, and gives Google time to see if it’s a winner (translation = profitable) for them.

Once that happens, and Google OKs organizational accounts – should you be there? The answer is … it depends. Are your users there? If so, then yes. Recent national stats claim that 51% of people age 12 and up are on Facebook – that’s 51% of your community, so it definitely makes sense for most libraries and organizations to have a Facebook presence.

But for other social networks, it really depends on your organization’s goals, and on where your customers tend to gather. If they start gathering in Google Plus, then yes – you should figure it out and be there for them.

If not? Maybe not so much. Time will tell!

And a question – are you playing with Google Plus? If so – what do you like/dislike about the service? Let me know in the comments!