by Carol Abrams
Renée Zellweger’s famous line in the movie Jerry Maguire was “You had me at hello.” Google Drive had me at 15 gigabytes of free storage space.
Maryland’s chapter of the Special Libraries Association held a workshop on Google Drive, which this Virginian attended and is summarizing for you.
Anyone with a Google account can use Google Drive, and you can establish a free Google account with any e-mail address, regardless of whether it is gmail. You launch Google Drive from the “app” icon on the top right of any page in your Google account. The icon looks like a three by three box of small dots.
I back up my more important files by uploading them to Google Drive and storing them in the Cloud. Uploading files to Google Drive also is an alternative to e-mailing them to yourself when you want to share files between your home and work computers. You won’t need to carry your files on a flash drive either. You will be able to access your files anywhere you have an Internet connection. At the workshop, I learned that given Google Drive’s roomy storage capacity, I could store more there if I needed to open up space on my computer’s hard drive.
Once a file is in your Google Drive, you can share it by emailing it or by sharing a link to it Then you can give your recipients privileges ranging from purely viewing the document to editing it. If you choose to allow your recipients to edit it, then it becomes a collaboration tool like a wiki where each person’s comments are visible to all in real time.
You can create documents, spreadsheets, slide presentations, surveys, and art in the Cloud using Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, and Forms respectively. The first four are a lot like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Paint. The advantage is that you can create a Google Doc, Google Sheet, Google Slide, or Google Drawing wherever you have Wifi even if your laptop, tablet, or computer does not have the MicroSoft Office Suite. [You can even work offline through Google Chrome once you download a special app/extension].
Three tips from the workshop: as you work, your document automatically saves and syncs. There is no “save” button. You can save your work in a number of file formats including pdf, rich text format, or any of the Microsoft formats. You can use an application called Fogpad to encrypt your documents.
Using Google Forms has been called the hidden gem of Google Drive by Steve Dotto of Dotto Technology. It is easier to create a survey, poll, or quiz, or gather RSVPs than on the more comprehensive tool Survey Monkey. Once you are ready to share your form, you can email it to recipients, share it as a link, or even embed it on a webpage or in a blog post.
The workshop presenter was Dr. Sean Henry. He is the Library Webmaster and Coordinator of Library Instruction at Frostburg State University. You may know him as a Past President of the Maryland Chapter of the Special Libraries Association and its current webmaster. Dr. Henry has graciously shared his presentation with us.
Google Drive’s slogan “Keep everything / Share anything” sums up what you can do: store up to 15 GBs of any kind of data for free and share as much of it as you would like.
Carol Abrams is earning her MIS degree at the University of Tennessee.