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Google Indoor Maps for Public Libraries

Apple caused a big stir this week because it replaced Google Maps in the latest version of its iOS with its own mapping application. The problem is that there are many glaring gaps and inaccuracies in Apples maps.

Google, by contrast, has spent several years collecting data and sending its famous Google photo cars to visually capture locales. Nearly a year ago, Google decided to move indoors. Its Google Indoor Maps project is seeking to map floor plans of public buildings in the US, UK, France, Switzerland, Canada and Japan.

In July, Google appeared at ALAs annual conference to recruit public libraries to take part in the project. The service is free and allows users to zoom in on a library building to see detailed floor plans. Its up to the public library to determine what to show.

Libraries need only upload a floor plan; the process takes minutes, once you have the necessary files in hand. Google will create the map at no charge to the library. The Google rep estimated about 7-9 weeks for Google to process the map and make it available in Google Map for Android, writes Patrick Hogan on the ALA TechSource blog.

The benefits of uploading your public librarys floor plan are that it increases your visibility on Google and makes it easy for visitors to navigate your library from their phone. They can find the location of DVDs, nonfiction, and of course, the reference desk.

Several libraries have already uploaded their floor plan, including the Portland Public Library in Maine and the Hingham Public Library in Massachusetts.

If you have a digital floor plan or map of your public library, its easy to upload it to Google Indoor Maps. Acceptable file formats are .GIF, .TIF, .JPG, .PNG, .BMP, and .PDF. Simple instructions for uploading a floor plan, along with a video tutorial, are available on the Google for Mobile website.

Google Indoor Maps, however, is only available for Android-based smartphones. (Android holds a 68 percent share of the global smartphone market vs. iPhones 17 percent.) And as its a Google Mobile initiative, indoor maps arent available in the browser.

Apple iPhone users will just have to see how the mapping battle plays out between the two giants. In the meantime, theyll just be lost in the library.

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