By Laurie Slattengren, Duluth Public Library

I attended several useful sessions at the 2016 Minnesota Library Association Conference but the one that I’ve been thinking about the most is “Raising Your Library’s Profile with Google and Wikipedia Pages.”  This was presented by Christine Larson, Becca Peters and Kristin Hall, all from Metro State University.  In this session I learned about taking ownership over the business pages for institutions like libraries on Google and Wikipedia.

Setting up a Google business page enhances the information that people see when they perform a Google search on your business. This is why photos, maps, and basic information about a business will show up on the front page of a Google search.  There are other interesting things you can add when claiming the business page, such as hours and days open.  Other people can suggest edits, but claiming the business page is the best way to ensure the most correct information shows about your institution. During this part of the session, it seemed like a lot of people were on computers and devices checking how their library showed up on a Google search (at least that’s what I was doing).  I notice that it looks like the Duluth Public Library has set up a business page because the information is up to date and it provides extra features, such as popular times and reviews.

The other part of the presentation was about creating Wikipedia pages for libraries. I see a lot of value in taking control of this page because Wikipedia is so widely used and can be edited by anyone. Without knowing it, any given library could have a page for their institution with outdated or incorrect information. In looking at the Wikipedia page for Duluth Public Library, I notice it has not been updated in several years.  I looked through the revision history and see that some revisions have been made by people I cannot identify, but I do see one of our staff members made several changes in years past. One thing I can take away from this session is to pass on to our public relations department that they should look at updating this page.

While I found both the Google and Wikipedia page topics to be interesting and worthwhile for libraries to do, I was most impressed by what I learned about the process involved in becoming a Wikipedia editor.  The presenters spoke about their experience doing a sort of treasure hunt/exploration training game called “The Wikipedia Adventure” as a way to learn correct practices for editing pages.  By creating an account and doing this type of training, the page creation and editing you do can be attributed to you, instead of just as being changed by an anonymous user.

I was really impressed with the work the presenters did on the Wikipedia page for the Metropolitan State University Library and Learning Center.  They cited several good resources for the information included and featured unique things about the institution, including their labyrinth and reflective garden.   This session inspired me to want to look at ways to present the attributes that make the library I work for unique and interesting to the public as well as display basic library information clearly for patrons searching for library resources online.