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					Google Wave and libraries: a snapshot


This report is a brief, preliminary look at how Google Wave is being used by librarians and how it
could be used by them in the future. I posted a question to the LIS-WEB2 mailing list (LIS-
WEB2@JISCMAIL.AC.UK) on 16/11/09 asking members:

               If anybody else in the library world was using Google Wave?
               If so, what for and how?
               Do you have any library-related waves or Wave resources to recommend?

The findings presented here are opinions and information taken from the many responses received.

I would like to extend my thanks to everybody on the LIS-WEB2 list who took the time to respond
to my questions and to John Whalley (Senior Assistant Librarian – Manchester Metropolitan
University) for information and advice regarding security in Google Wave .

Google Wave - definition

Google Wave is an ambitious piece of technology with potential for a wide range of uses. As a result,
it can be hard to define. Google describe Wave as “an online tool for real-time communication and
collaboration” (Google 2009) in which the main format people use to communicate and collaborate
is called a ‘wave’. A wave may contain one or more ‘blips’, individual parts of a wave that can
contain text and embedded features such as maps, videos or other applications. Users can
communicate via Wave in real time or asynchronously and waves can be tagged by users in order to
identify them.

It has been said that Wave combines:

 “elements of instant messaging, e-mail, collaborative rich document editing, and generic support for
third-party Web services in a single seamless communication medium that is more flexible than any
of those things individually” (Paul 2009).

For a fuller overview, it is recommended that readers refer to the ‘Resources’ section of this report
for recommended introductions to Wave and, if possible, actually use Wave themselves in order to
become familiar with it.


        Popularity of Wave with Librarians

               Wave appears to be popular with librarians
                   o There are numerous waves started by librarians and focusing upon library
                      issues (please see the “Library-related waves” section of “Resources” below)
                   o The thread on LIS-WEB2 prompted a number of members to enquire about
                      invites to Wave
                        o      This popularity appears to be proportionate to the general popularity of

           Existing community of Librarians on Wave

                   There seemed to be a general willingness amongst librarians to share Wave
                   People were outgoing
                        o Adding me as a contact
                        o Inviting me to waves
                        o Putting me in touch with other Wave users
                        o Sending Wave invites to other librarians who requested them

           Library-related ideas for Wave

                   Users suggested how they might use Wave
                       o For collaboration with members of an online study group
                                The group makes electronic and hard copy magazines, runs a blog
                                   and collaborates on various other creative projects
                       o Integration of Wave with Talis Prism 3 via Juice

           Concerns about Wave

                   Security1
                       o A number of ICT departments have concerns regarding the security of Wave
                                  Like many Web 2.0 applications, it is potentially vulnerable to cross-
                                     site scripting (XSS)2
                                  Using the Yes/No/Maybe gadget triggers a clickjacking3 warning in
                                     NoScript4 as the gadget contains partially hidden elements
                                           While not necessarily an issue in itself when the gadget in
                                              question is provided by a trusted source (whether you
                                              personally trust Google or not is your decision) it does
                                              highlight the fact that an untrustworthy source could create
                                              a gadget with hidden elements in order to pose a
                                              clickjacking threat
                   Accessibility
                       o Wave is blocked on staff computers by many councils so a lot of public
                            library workers can not access it


              Privacy
                   o If another user has your username, they can add you as a contact, whether
                       you like it or not
                   o Once another user has added you as a contact, they can then add you to a
                       wave, whether you like it or not

     How useful is Wave to librarians

              There are not enough applications for Wave to make it useful to librarians yet
              Nobody has found a valuable practical application for Wave in libraries
              It has no obvious practical application beyond “time wasting”
              Overall, respondents seemed happy to let Wave develop and let other people find
               uses for it before they approach it with any seriousness


        “The Complete Guide to Google Wave: How to Use Google Wave” a free ebook:

        “What is Google Wave?” video :

        “Google Wave: A Complete Guide”:

        “7 Things You Should Know About…Google Wave”:


        A page on the SINTO wiki for librarians who are looking for a Google Wave invitation.
         People who have invitations and are looking for recipients can check this page and send
         out invites:

     Library-related public waves

         N.B. You will need to be able to log into an active Google Wave account to view these

        UK librarian’s wave:!w%252Bh3Tm9k-aB

          Librarians Experimental Tyre Kicking Wave:

          Code4Lib Google Wave:

          A Google Wave search for “with:public librarians”, which will return all publicly
           accessible waves featuring the keyword “librarians”:

Library-related bots

      Igor ( – reference management

      Milton ( – when you type a single word in a blip, Milton returns a
       list of titles from the John Hopkins University catalogue relating to that keyword

      Fnordlinky ( – enter a PMID into a blip e.g. “PMID 12748199” and
       Fnordlinky replaces it with the citation information from PubMed

      Library-y ( - enter an ISBN into a blip e.g. “1606992864 “ and
       Library-y turns it into a link to the Library Thing entry for that title

Google (2009). "About Google Wave." Retrieved 11/12/09, 2009,from

Paul, R. (2009). "Turning the tide: a hands-on look at Google's Wave." Retrieved 11/12/09, 2009,

David Jenkins

Assistant Librarian

Electronic Resources Development Team,
Manchester Metropolitan University,
Minshull House,
47 - 49 Chorlton Street,
M1 3FY,
United Kingdom

Tel: (0161) 247 6115

Twitter: @d_jenkins