September 12, 2016

Creating and updating the Interactive Map of the Library in Prezi

By Ned Potter, Academic Liaison Librarian 

Each year I update our map of the Library, created in Prezi, which we use both online and in face-to-face induction talks. The students really like this (as do staff in Departments) as it lays out what our library has geographically which makes it easier to digest and remember. There's so much information coming at them at the start of term, that anything we can do to help them synthesise it all genuinely helps.

Here's the updated map:


I don't have the exact equivalent from last year to show you as we edit over the existing master map rather than create a new one each year (as this way we keep the 5,000+ views and the likes, which makes the map more discoverable for our students), but you can see this History of Art version from 2015 for comparison. The 2016 version is a little cleaner, a little simpler, and a little neater. All the small changes really add up.

Creating the map

We started doing these maps back in 2012. In those days they were much cruder, and based on a simple top-down-drawing of our three buildings, filled in with as much detail as possible. This map is hidden now (so it can't be found unless you have the URL) but here's a 2012 map so you can see how things have evolved:

The biggest change since then is using proper floor-plans as the starting off point, which we did from 2013. When you import a PDF into Prezi it gives you each page of the PDF as an individual object, to manipulate as you wish. This allowed us to stretch the top-down-view page really large, and then add all the other pages - of the ground floor of each building, then the 1st floor etc - inside the larger image as smaller objects. The overall effect was a million times more professional.

The rest of the principles are then the same: add to and annotate the map, especially with video and URLs, to help users learn more if they choose to.

This year I actually started from scratch with the new PDF because our floor-plans had changed quite a lot in the intervening 12 months, but it didn't take long to do.

If you want to create an interactive map

We'd really recommend this process as the students respond very well to it, and of course the Prezi can be embedded in the website, in libguides or blogposts, or shared anywhere else where a visual representation of the library's services would be useful.

To create your own you really need your library's floor plans in PDF format:

  1. Obviously you need a Prezi account. If you don't already have one go to and sign-up - use a (or .edu) email address to get a free version of the Educational Pro account. This is worth happening as it allows you to make your Prezis hidden while they're still in development. If you already have an account for your library and are an academic institution, but haven't got the Edu Joy licence, you can go into your Account Settings and swap it over
  2. Create a new Prezi with a blank canvas. Go to Insert, choose From file (PDF, video...) and then locate your floor plans PDF
  3. Each page of your PDF will now appear separately on the Prezi canvas. Move them around and shrink and expand them until they make a coherent map of the building(s). We chose to do one master map with all the floors represented inside it, but you may choose to do different layers for each floor - whatever works best 
  4. Users can just click on whatever they want to zoom in and get more detail, but it's nice to give them a path to follow in case they prefer a more guided tour. So add each floor of each building to the path in a logical order
  5. Add some videos to the map if you have them - so for example on ours we have videos about things like connecting to the wifi, how to use the self-issue machines, what Academic Liaison actually do etc - by going to Insert and then Youtube video. The video will then auto-embed if you copy and paste in the URL
  6. Add some basic info that you know will be useful - for example about borrowing, or the Help Desk
  7. Add some URLs - in ours we have things like the link to booking a study room next to info about study space. In Prezi you need the full http:// etc for the link to be properly clickable 
  8. Finally as well as embedding your map anywhere relevant, you can save multiple copies of it, to be adapted for different Departments with more specific information in (like whereabouts the audio-visual materials are shelved, for a presentation to the Music students)
Any questions, leave a comment or get in touch via email. 

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