February 20, 2024

Google Debuts New Service for Libraries at ALA Conference | ALA Annual 2012


(Please see comment section below for correction to this story. The headline and the first paragraph have been edited to reflect this information.)

Aisle 300 of the exhibits hall at the Anaheim Convention Center is at the periphery of the cavernous space, and Booth 311 is very small, with a nondescript curtained backdrop, two tables, and a plexiglass tabletop sign frame whose message reads “First Time Exhibitor.” So, it was a bit incongruous to realize that this modest and outlying space was the place Google chose to debut a new service at the American Library Association’s annual conference — not only for its size but also since the company has exhibited before.

Google isn’t listed in the exhibit directory; nevertheless, its young employees with astute expressions — who dutifully refused to comment on the record — were there hawking Google Indoor Maps which the company rolled out for libraries a month ago.

The service is free and has been available to other institutions since last year, but now libraries, if they wish, can also upload floor plans to Google, which then incorporates the information into Google Maps for Mobile. So, if a user clicks on the image of the library building when it is at maximum magnification, the program then drills down into the building to reveal the interior layout. A library can choose what areas of the interior space to expose.

Two libraries – the Portland Public Library in Maine and the Hingham Public Library in Massachusetts — are live with the service (which usually takes four to eight weeks to go live), and another 100 libraries have already signed up. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the New England Library Association have been working with Google to spread news of the service, according to comments being made to librarians who stopped at the booth.

Indoor Maps is available for an Android 2.2 or above device in Google Maps for mobile version 6.0 or above, according to Google’s website.

Michael Kelley About Michael Kelley

Michael Kelley is the former Editor-in-Chief, Library Journal.


  1. Except that Google has exhibited at previous ALA Annual Conferences, with a fairly large exhibit in at least one case. It’s been a few years, but the corporation is absolutely, definitely not a first-time exhibitor.

    • Michael Kelley Michael Kelley says:

      Hi Walt, I went with the sign displayed at the booth saying they were a first-time exhibitor. I emailed Travis Pfeifer, the partner operations team lead, who the fellows in the booth told me was the only one who could comment. He got back to me late Sunday and referred me to Deanna Yick, the PR lead for indoor Google Maps. I had already posted the story but I sent Deanna a link and invited her to comment but also to inform me if there were any inaccuracies since I had gleaned the information at the booth. Back at my office in NYC today (Tuesday), I checked directories from past conferences that I had, and there is no mention of Google in Dallas, San Diego and New Orleans. I will contact ALA to ask if they can clarify. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Google exhibited at ALA Annual in 2007 and, I believe, one or two conferences before or after that. This was also when Google was publishing the Google Librarian Newsletter–which I now see that Google has disappeared. Here’s a link to a Google blog post regarding the company’s presence (including exhibiting) at ALA 2007: http://librariancentral.blogspot.com/2007/06/google-at-ala.html

    • Michael Kelley Michael Kelley says:

      Hi Walt, ALA just got back to me and confirmed you are right (as does your link). I stand corrected and will make a note at top of story and tweak headline and first paragraph so readers will see this thread and get the right information. Thanks for pointing this out.