Thursday, 16 July 2015

Thing 4: Google

I know, I know, as librarians we are always saying that there is a world outside of Google…and Google doesn’t always have the answers. Well in terms of a communication and applications tool, rather than a reference one-stop-shop, Google is pretty amazing.

I am a fan.

Getting started

To fully use the Google tools, you have to open an account. You may have one already if you chose blogger for your blog, or if you have a gmail email account. Otherwise, follow this screencast from Thing 1 to get started.

Now that you have an account, lets take a look around. Go to the Google homepage and sign in on the top right. Click on the nine square boxes in the top right of the screen to find applications. Here you will see the most commonly used such as Gmail and Youtube but you can change them around to suit your needs. Click on 'more' and then 'even more' to see the full range of Google products.

Click on your profile photo and 'My Account' to alter your privacy settings. I took some time here to go into My Account and turned on all the privacy settings until I was familiar with how everything worked, I also added my photo (remember Thing 3!). After that I felt safe to explore without worrying that my photos will end up in a Google search!

Google +

To begin with, let’s take a look at Google+. What is it? It’s a social communication site, similar to Facebook and Twitter, but works with circles and layers, based on your interests. On the home tab you can customise your profile, add information about yourself and add people to your circles.

You can create circles for acquaintances, family, following & friends. So when you post those cute baby photos, you may just want to limit their viewing to your family circle.

It works the same way for posts or updates you receive, your library colleagues will be interested in Rudaí 23 and your family may not, so you can customise everything. It is worth playing around with this and also to explore communities. In communities you can choose exciting topics to following and receive updates into your feed. You can also search for specific communities such as ‘library’.

Join our Google+ Community here.

The idea of Google+  as a social network is brilliant but it has struggled to compete against Facebook. Google have been threatening to close it down for a  while (they have a habit of doing this, remember Google Wave, Picasa, Reader anyone?), which can be off-putting,  but it's still there for now.


Gmail works like all emails, and includes useful features such as calendar integration and 15GB of storage. You can also get a professional email from google, such as, for a fee, which includes spam protection, no ads and 30GB of storage.


The cool thing about Gmail is that it is integrated with Google Hangouts. This is a video chat and instant message service. It has all the best parts of Skype, Whats app, SMS and Viber all rolled into one and you do not need to download any new apps to use it, you already have access to this through your Google account.

On the bottom left of your email homepage you will see the contacts icon and the Hangouts logo . The contacts icon lets you see who from your contacts is on Hangouts. Click on the person you want to chat to and a chat box appears. When you are instantly messaging that person, you can see a video box, click on this and it will take you to a video chat, the same as a Skype call. You can invite up to 10 people to the conversation.

You can also use Hangouts through your Google+ home page. On the Home tab, scroll down and select Hangouts, chose the contacts that you want to invite to the conversation and send them the link. Here I am calling Niamh through Google +.

When Niamh answers, you can see her in the large screen and yourself in small on the bottom right. You can turn off the video option if you do not want everyone to see you. I am on a PC so I need to have a headset with a microphone attached and a webcam set up, while Niamh is on her phone so she is using the integrated webcam and microphone.

Many of our libraries are working on a tight budget these days and cannot afford expensive videoconferencing software for conference calls or on-line training, so this is an excellent free alternative.


Take a look at Liboncon - an annual virtual library conference held using Google Hangouts here. This is a unique way to hold a conference as it promotes more discussion and engagement rather than the passive speaker/listener role that we might be accustomed to.


Hangouts-On-Air is a free screencasting version of Hangouts that allows you to conduct online training and record everything happening on screen.

This is an invaluable education tool to have in any library; it’s easy to use, and very similar to Hangouts.

This is a fun brief video on how hangouts work.

And this is a great training video on everything to do with Google hangouts and Hangouts-On-Air

Google Photos

Last year I got an android smart phone, and a new baby. I linked the phone to my gmail account, and used this primarily for my emails to make my life a bit easier.
As you can imagine, many photos were taken of the new born and some weeks later (or maybe months, it’s a blur) I logged into my Google account on my pc and was both surprised and thrilled to see all my photos backed up.

Where I had taken 20 almost identical photos of the baby slightly moving and smiling, Google had put these into a movie, so she’s animated and it looks like a video clip. An ‘assistant’ alerts me when a new movie, photo collage or feature has been created every time I sign into Google.

I take hundreds of photos on my phone which are automatically saved onto Google photos. That must make for a very jumbled up collection of photos - you would think.

Google Photo categorises your photos based on their content. If you search your photos for ‘food’, it will show you your photos with food it them. That’s right, you have not added a #food tag to your photos, Google just knows! It also offers you search category options, it’s eerily smart! Google as photo cataloguer!

Google Photo also allows you to do some basic editing to your pictures.

This can be very useful for conference photos, instead of posting 50 photos of the full day; you can post one video link with a compilation or movie of the speakers and attendees.

Google for Work

That’s a lot of the fun stuff, but Google also does the serious stuff that you can use for work.

You can create virtually any type of document on Google which work seamlessly with Microsoft or Apple software.

I have used Google forms for registration for our annual library association seminar for the last two years and it has worked fantastically well and I will be using it again next year, if that’s any encouragement!

For collaboration and storage, in my opinion nothing beats Google Drive.

We are using Google Groups while running this course- but more about that in Thing 16- Collaboration Tools

Your task for thing 4:

  • Open a google account and set up your profile in Google+. You can keep this totally private so nobody can view it if you want. Play around with the communities and add your interest.
  • Have a Hangout chat with one of your contacts and see if you can also have a video chat. Once everyone is on hangouts, we will try to have a group hangout in the next few weeks.
  • Try Hangouts On Air 
  • If you have time, explore the other features of the Google apps mentioned above.

In your blog, with hashtag #thing4, let us know how your Hangout went. Nobody to hangout with? chat to us! What do you think of Google now? Did you know these features existed? Have you learned anything useful from this post? I hope so. Looking forward to reading your blog posts to seeing how you got on.

Here is a link to Niamh O'Donovan and Stephanie Ronan's Google+ profiles. Let's connect.

This post was written by Stephanie Ronan, a Rudaí 23 contributor and Librarian at the Marine Institute, Oranmore, Galway, Ireland.


  1. Just in case you missed it, there is a Rudai23 community in Goggle Plus. Have a look by going to the following address

    The Rudai23 Team

  2. Thnaks Wayne, we can add our blogs to this page and whatever we think our fellow #Rudaí23 callobrators will be interested in.
    Should be a good place to catch up and to have a hangout!

  3. Thanks for this Thing! I must confess to not being a big fan of G+ or G Hangouts. I also find Google's whole ecosystem a little discomfiting. I don't particularly want to give them my phone number and let them access my web cam and connect my YouTube account and everything. I don't think I'm quite as cynical as Phil Bradley is about Google, but I like to keep a wary scepticism about my dealings with Google (and Facebook, and Apple, and the rest...). Having said that, I am a Gmail user, Google is still my default search engine, Google maps is invaluable. I was also a fanatic Google Reader user until they stole it away from us. I still haven't really found a worthy (free) successor.

    "and you do not need to download any new apps to use it, you already have access to this through your Google account."

    Not quite true - using Firefox on a Mac, I was prompted to download and install the Google Hangouts plugin.

    Also, with Google Photos, do you know if there is a storage limit? If so, what is the capacity? I've found conflicting information online.

    1. Hi Katzette, apologies, you do need to install a plugin if you're not using google Chrome as your browser when accessing hangouts. We will make that clear when we schedule our next hangout.
      From what I can see storage on Google photo is unlimited as long as your photos are no greater than 16 megapixel. There's questions over whether you can store videos or not, because of this.
      Here is an article which I found about it.
      Google have just announced that they are going to disconnect G+ from YouTube so that your comments don't appear on both. Which makes much better sense I think.
      Your concerns about Google are well founded, they do seem to have a scary amount of access to our data which is obvious from the new timeline feature they've just released. What's the solution though? To go off grid completely? If it's not Google tracking us it will be someone else.


Google Hangouts On Air

The Calendar of Things