07.3 – Google

Most people think of Google as a search engine, and it is that. But Google has many other features that implement Web 2.0 concepts, or help other programs with their Web 2.0 applications. To explore all of Google’s features would require more space and time than I want to dedicate to it here, so instead I’ll focus on several key Google aps that you can use as part of your Web 2.0 education.


Google Docs

Google Docs has a tool that the person in charge of making this program work could use to keep track of participants – a Google Spreadsheet!

  1. Watch the Common Craft Video GoogleDocs in Plain English (http://www.commoncraft.com/video-googledocs).
  2. Go take a tour of Google Docs (http://www.google.com/google-d-s/intl/en/tour1.html).
  3. “Try it out.” To do this you will need a gmail account, if you don’t already have one.
  4. You have three choices of document types – Spreadsheet, Document, and Presentation.
  5. Those of you with a Blogger blog:
    • Write a short document with a title.
    • Make the title red.
    • In the document type out ways you think you and your library or department could make use of Google Docs.
    • Click ‘Publish,’ and choose to publish the document to your blog.
    • You’ll be prompted to set up which blog to publish to.
    • Do that, then publish it to your blog.
    • Go to your blog and see if it worked! You don’t have to make your title red to make this work – that’s just an added activity to get you used to working with a Google Document.



Google has a very familiar interface – the nearly blank screen with a search box in the middle. That design strategy has worked out for them, except now no one expects there to be anything else.

Google actually has many different and customizable tools available. If you look at the main Google page, there is a link to iGoogle in the top right corner. I have also seen it called “Make This Page Your Own.”

  1. Go to Google (http://www.google.com)
  2. Click iGoogle or “make this page your own.”
    • You will need a Gmail account to set this up – if you don’t already have one, get one now.
  3. Once signed in, you’ll have a page with lots of widgets on it. Widgets are little windows into other sites. The ones you start out with are just suggestions. Ignore them for the moment and skip to the totally awesome part.
  4. Between the search box and the top of your iGoogle page, you’ll see two tabs – ‘Home’ and ‘Add A Tab.’ Click ‘Add A Tab,’ and in the space provided, type “Library.” Leave the box checked that says “I’m feeling Lucky…” and click “Okay.” Now you have a tab of all library-related widgets, with recent posts from various blogs and library sites. Neat!
  5. Now you can go back to your Home tab and look to the far right – see where it says “Add Stuff,”? Click that. Now you have access to all the myriad of widgets that are available for you to add to your pages.
  6. Anything you find that you want, just click “Add It Now,” and it will be added to your Home page.
  7. Anything you add will be put on your home page, willy-nilly. To reorganize, just click on any part of the widget header that isn’t a link. You should see the four-way arrow when this happens. Just drag and drop your widgets where you want them to be.

Advanced Widgetry for widget wizards:

You can build your own widgets – there’s a link to do so at the very bottom of your iGoogle home page. If you’re feeling frisky, check out that process, and see if it’s something you want to try. Here’s a widget you can try to make: How about a box that let’s people search your library catalog from their iGoogle page? Once you’ve made a widget, you can publish it to the Google directory, and other people can put it on their pages. Once it’s there, you can advertise it on you library home page.

Making a library catalog widget isn’t one of the ready-made options Google presents you with, but Rich Edwards of the Washington State Library has written a Technical Handout (http://www.secstate.wa.gov/library/docs/iii/onlinenorthwesttechnicalhandout.pdf) that outlines the process, including all the code needed to write a widget.

If your library catalog doesn’t have a static URL, this process might be more difficult.


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