Monday, May 5, 2008

Google Docs - a great tool for patrons

If you're not familiar with Google Docs now would be a good time to check it out. In terms of patron use, it can be invaluable.

Essentially, with a Google account, which is free and can be set up in seconds, anyone can get access to word processing, presentation, and spreadsheet software. All documents can be saved on the internet through Google's file hosting service and can be re-accessed from any computer with an internet connection. As with all things Google, the website is very user friendly.

We sometimes get patrons who want to save their work, but for one reason or another have nothing to save it to (yes, we have CDs, floppys and thumb drives for sale, but...some people don't want to buy anything, or don't like having to remember to bring disks with them - or to take them home!). In these situations Google Docs is extemely helpful. A patron can come in on a Monday, create and save a document, upload it to the internet, leave the library without having to remember a disk of any kind, then come back on Tuesday and access the document again for editing, printing, etc. Great for students working on papers - they can work on a document while doing research at the library, then access it again from home later in the day. The one caveat is file size; there are limitations but I haven't found this to be problematic.

There are other websites that offer these services, but I have found that most people are very comfortable with anything "Google". Even though I've had nightmares about Google taking over all aspects of my life, I have to admit this is one of my favorite go-to tools. Try it out, share your knowledge with your patrons, and they will think you are brilliant!

1 comment:

Rose said...

I too love Google docs---for me! I have just discovered it (for our course) and like the idea that I can access a file from home, my job, and anywhere. It's a lot easier than remembering to carry a memory stick and reaching down and around to plug it in.
I've offered to teach the teachers in my school how to use a computer and I think I'm going to use Google for email and software applications. If computers are trending towards using the Internet for applications and storage, then they will be up to date by the time they feel comfortable.