Map the Inside of Your Library

A message from NELA’s president, Mary Ann List:

Dear NELA Members,

Bill Rogers of Google Maps has launched an initiative to provide indoor maps of New England libraries, public and academic, large and small. The project can expand to other buildings on college campuses.

Public libraries in Portland Maine and Hingham Mass were pioneers, discovering indoor maps early on.  Several of the rest of us have now worked with the Google team to raise the visibility of our libraries in this way.

Google Indoor Maps are in use in several large retail establishments and in 18 Smithsonian museums and galleries.

There are two levels of mapping, both easy and free to the library.

In Portsmouth we loaded our basic floor plans (the same ones we use in-house) in just a few minutes, and then had a Google team come out to do the live mapping (level 2).

Mr. Rogers explains indoor maps for libraries in his letter, which follows.

If you would like to join this project, contact him for simple instructions.

Mary Ann List, NELA President

Hello NELA Members!

My name is Bill Rogers and I work for Google on their Maps Team based out of the Cambridge, MA office. I am working on an indoor map project and have some resources available this summer that I think could greatly benefit the public libraries in New England. As a lifelong MA resident, bibliophile, and regular patron of the Lunenburg, Fitchburg, Worcester, and Revere public libraries and Clark University and Holy Cross libraries, I would love to give back in my own way and help increase your visibility within the community by offering you a chance to be involved in this exciting, no-cost pilot project. I assure you that there are no hidden financial costs now or ever. The project will require a small amount of attention and manpower, but the free visibility should be worth it.

By using floor plans or maps that are typically available on your library’s website, Google could increase your visibility on Google Maps. We would replace your building’s satellite imagery on Google Maps with a traced, generic version of your floor plans. As the user zooms in, higher levels of details would emerge. We would work with each library to customize their level of map detail (reference desks, book sections, restrooms, exits, computer labs, etc.), focusing exclusively on public areas. Private areas – offices, storage areas, etc, would be excluded from the scope of this project.

An individual administrative “hash-tag” will be issued by me for each interested library and a web-based tool is available for future changes within Google Maps. An API for Indoor Maps will be available soon and could be added to your websites at no cost. Indoor Google Maps will soon have all the same features, benefits, and platforms as regular Google Maps.

For buildings that are large enough and geographically convenient to our home base in Cambridge, MA or our other New England-based survey projects, we may be able to offer an additional benefit of live indoor navigation. This step is completely optional and would require a brief on-site visit from our team. Participation would depend on the availability of our survey team and your library’s WiFi. We are currently between major retail partners and have a Cambridge-based team that is ready to work right now.

Over the last several months, we have worked with Home Depot, IKEA, Macy’s, Smithsonian Museums, major airports and malls, Vegas casinos, colleges, and most recently the MBTA ( MBTA). Your visitors would get a nice navigation tool available on an application used by hundreds of millions of daily users and it would increase your library’s visibility. You would be among the first libraries in the country to go live! Google would get authorized, accurate data from interested long-term partners and live maps in each participating local community.

For most libraries with access to a digital floor plan/map and just one building with a couple floors, the uploading time is minimal: typically 10-15 minutes. More floors and buildings would take a bit longer. The optional survey is also painless. Our team will check in before they start and check out before they leave for a total of about five minutes. Typically they will be on site for about 45-90 minutes, depending on building size. Since we are only surveying in public areas, we do not usually require an escort or any additional assistance from your staff.

If you would like to participate in this program. I ask that you email me ( with the your library’s name in the subject and your contact information in the body of the email. I will issue you a hash-tag and simple instructions to get you started on the uploading process. I can also answer any specific questions. If you are interested in requesting an on-site visit, please complete the Onsite Visit Request Form and email it to me.

I have attempted to make this process as easy and concise as possible in order to facilitate adding as many partners as possible. Email is the best way to contact me and I can arrange phone calls if necessary. Thanks for your attention.


Bill Rogers | Partner Operations Specialist | | 617-528-9324

Learn more about Indoor Google Maps!