12: Maps

(Guide time: 50 to 80 minutes.)

What can you do with maps?


You may well have already explored Google Maps but have you seen how much it can do?

Just in case you haven’t used it, Google Maps is an online mapping service that you use to pan (by dragging the mouse) and zoom (by using the mouse wheel) into a desired location. Alternatively, you can enter an address, postcode, city, or landmark to quickly find it on the map.

Maps - 23 Things Photo courtesy of Aram Bartholl.

. Thing 19:  Maps - 23 Things

Go to Google Maps and enter the postcode or address of a place known to you – your library, your house, the hairdresser’s etc.

Use the map, satellite, and more buttons to look at the different views of this location. Zoom in using the mouse wheel to see how detailed a map you can get.

If you do look at your library, how old do you think the satellite view is and what day of the week do you think it was taken?

(Castle Hill in Kirklees on Google Maps)

Like many other map services, Google Maps can generate directions between any pair of locations. In Google Maps, click the Get Directions link to find how to get from your home town to Madrid.

Google Maps has given rise to a number of interesting offshoot projects and fan sites you might want to explore:

What can you do with maps?

All this is very useful but can we get a bit more creative?

Surrey libraries have created a Surrey fiction book map which contains details of works of fiction set in Surrey. Viewers can click on an book cover on the map to see more information about the book and its connection to Surrey. Surrey Library Service members can also click on a link to borrow the book from a library.

Like many tourist websites, VisitLondon.com have embedded a tagged map:

Interactive London map

These types of embellishment to maps can allow you to make so much more of your facilities and collections.

Google traffic

Something else that Google maps does, is to show you the state of traffic across the country – live.  If there’s a traffic jam on your local road, it will show it.  It does so by tracking signals from mobile phones.  If enough people are stationary on a motorway, Google Traffic will show that road as being a problem.  You can find Google Traffic by going to Google maps and hovering your mouse over the search box.  It’s also available via the app. (Is it somewhat disturbing that Google can track your mobile phone signal?  Take a look at The Legal Bit.)

And now, the app.

Google Maps is now available for smartphones as an app.  Amazingly, it also acts as a satellite navigation device.  Put in your destination, and it will plan your route and guide you, by voice and map, straight to it.

Activity 1:

First watch this YouTube video detailing how to make a customised map:


Now either:

(i) Sketch a few notes about a customised map you would like to create for your local area and how this could be of interest or benefit for you local libraries.


(ii) Go straight ahead and create the map!  (You will need a Google account).

Get your libraries registered with Google Places

Google Places for Business gives you access to free tools that help your libraries and other operations get online, be found on Google Search and Maps and get closer to your customers. The free service will allow your libraries address, contact details and website link to pop up whenever anyone searches on Google or Google Maps.

Activity 2

Find your library/libraries on Google Maps and see how much information is immediately available. Have they been registered? Should they be?

There are other Maps!

Whilst Google may well have cornered the market, for the moment at least, there are other map services out there:

If you are looking at this course from outside the UK you will quickly be able to find other map services suitable for your region.

Activity 3:

Have a look at a few of the map services detailed and try them out. Get directions along a route you know, have a look at your locality.

Which map service do you prefer? Which is clearest? Easiest to use?

Do any of them give you directions from Liverpool to Manchester that go via Timbuktu?


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