Monday, June 05, 2006

Google Spreadsheets: Implications for Libraries

The AP reports that Google will introduce its new web-based spreadsheet Tuesday to a limited number of users on a first-come, first-served basis.

Signups will begin at 9am ET Tuesday at Google Labs. No word on how many people will be granted immediate access.

Google Spreadsheet is obviously a competitor to Microsoft's Excel.

The advantage of a web-based spreadsheet is that several people can have access to it at one time, and each can modify the master spreadsheet as s/he likes. An article in the UK Observer (no link yet) says up to 10 people can have access to the same spreadsheet at one time, at least for the initial test phase of the product. Instant Messenger is integrated into it, so spreadsheet users can chat while making changes.

Implications for libraries: Competition is great, isn't it? Everyone benefits by this clash of the titans between Google and Microsoft.

Librarians can build spreadsheets by collaborating with each other, perhaps in different libraries in different locations. But librarians can also collaborate with their users on their documents, offering help or advice.

Some people have access to MS Office at work, but not at home. Google Spreadsheets, in addition to the collaboration aspect, will appeal to those who can't afford to buy it for their home computer.

Update: Sign up here.

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