Thursday, January 21, 2010

Location based services/pages your library should claim or monitor

Location based apps and services are getting a lot of buzz these days. Users can create webpages for each location, and usually they can check in to indicate to friends their location,earn points to gain "Mayorship" and/or post reviews and tips. In many cases, these services provide legitimate owners of these locations to "claim" the location.

Here are a few sites with such services that you should claim or monitor to ensure the information listed is correct and to monitor comments or even respond to them.

1. Librarything Local

What is it?

A LibraryThing initiative, this lists libraries and bookstores around the world. Users can add events, add their favourite book stores etc. It aims to be "become the web's best, most complete source for finding bookstores and library—and for the events they throw".

How to claim

"To claim a venue you must have an active LibraryThing account and convince us you're legit. An email from an official-sounding address is more than sufficient. Send emails to with the venue number or link along with your user name." 

Why claim?

Unlike the other services in the list, it does not allow users to add comments, though anyone can add events. Recently Librarything released  the Local Books iPhone app. This free app which is currently featured in the appstore has built in local features allowing users to find the closest bookstores and libraries that are listed in Librarything Local and access information about the place (call the phone number listed etc). This has potential to be a poor man's mobile site for libraries, unfortunately it does not allow users to search the catalogue. Though LibraryThing can easily add this but I wouldn't hold my breath as it would compete with the newly launched Library Anywhere.

2. Google maps+Google places

What is it?
You must leave in a cave not to have heard of Google maps . What you have not heard is that Googlemaps, they are now linked to the new Google places . Essentially each location on Google maps has a separate information page (click on "more information" on Googlemaps)
You can add, contact information, photos, Youtube video, opening hours, add events etc. Anyone can also add reviews.

In some ways this is an improvement on the Libraries on Google Profile idea, I blogged about last year.

Once you have claimed the location, you can even go the "local business center" service in your local profile and look at the dashboard to see how many times the pages was requested. You can add coupons to your Google map listing which customers can print out and use. Any libraries tried this?

How to claim

There are two ways to claim, but the easiest is probably via phone. Set up the contact number and request authentication. Enter the code given and you claim the site! 

Why claim?

This is Google maps, the most popular maps application in the world, surely it pays to claim the information page linked to it to ensure information is accurate, being aware of the reviews posted there is also important obviously.

3. Yelp

What is it?

I covered this last year here and I wrote that it is an "online review directories (location based) that list businesses such as restaurants and users are encouraged to comment and rate such services." Do note that Yelp is available only for selected cities in the US and the UK.

Since then Yelp has started to add checkins similar to services like FourSquare

How to claim

Similar to google places, you verify you are the owner via phone.

Why claim?

Many libraries are already listed on Yelp with many reviews , see this and also listen to this interview.

4. Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt,  Brightkite etc

I've covered, the use of Foursquare by libraries.

As far as I know these location based services don't allow businesses to claim locations yet, still in the case of  Foursquare, users can post comments and tips, so it's still worth monitoring.

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