By Meredith Farkas | June 24, 2006
You know, I’m really going to end up running out of titles for my wiki posts, but that’s a good sign. It is so exciting and gratifying to me to see the number of people and organizations who have adopted wikis for personal and professional uses. I honestly don’t know of an easier or better method of collecting knowledge from a group of people than a wiki. And not just that, but they’re easy to update and are searchable, which is great for finding stuff when the wiki gets huge.
A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from David Liziard who told me about his creation, the Bibliopedia which is like a French Library Success Wiki. The wiki has lots of practical topics on being a librarian, managing collections, developing collections, marketing resources, becoming an archivist, etc. The topic of most interest to me is the Biblioblogs page which provides links to many French blogs by librarians, blogs by libraries, and blogs related to library work, including a really cool blog on video games in Libraries (in French). So if you have some reading knowledge of French, this is a tremendous resource! Thank you David!
The Princeton Public Library has had a summer reading club for adults (so cool!) for a number of years and has been posting patron book reviews to a Web site (here’s last year’s). This year, they decided to have the reviews posted to a Booklovers Wiki! This sounded very “2.0″ until I read their FAQ. The problem with the wiki is that patrons are not allowed to add their own reviews — they still e-mail them in just as they did before. While that in many ways defeats the purpose of having a wiki, I assume they chose the model for its ease of use and ease of updating. But still, it doesn’t seem very 2.0 if the users themselves can’t add the content (then it’s really just more convenient for the librarians; for the patrons it’s still just a static Web page). Proof that it’s not the tool that’s 2.0, but how you use it. Hopefully in the future they’ll learn to trust a bit more, because spam and vandalism are usually very manageable problems, as I can attest. Still, nice to see them dipping a toe into the wiki waters and I love the summer reading program for adults and the online reviews idea.
My buddy Nicole Engard is going to be speaking at the LITA Forum this Fall for the first time ever. So she contacted me the other day asking for some wiki marketing advice. She wanted to create a wiki to collect information that would be useful to her and other first-timers. So anyone attending the LITA National Forum this year should definitely check out and hopefully contribute to the Unofficial Wiki. LITA, you’d better link to this wiki from your conference page, because, like the ALA Wikis, I’m sure there will be a lot of useful information on this site for your attendees. I bet they will. ALA has become a lot more clueful about wikis. In 2005, I couldn’t even get anyone at ALA to return my e-mails about the wiki and somehow this year, it’s linked from the front page of the ALA Web site. Go figure. Thanks, Nicole for creating what I’m sure will be a useful resource.
There are so many different kinds of wiki software options out there these days, both for those who want the wiki hosted for them and those of us who want to have it on our own server. It’s really wild. The task of choosing wiki software is made much easier by the incredible WikiMatrix. This site allows users to compare wiki software in great detail (basically every possible feature). They also have added a Choice Wizard, where the user answers questions about their wiki needs/requirements and then get recommendations about which wiki software meets those requirements. It’s very cool. For me, it recommended MediaWiki and several others, so I guess I’m on the right track! I get a lot of e-mails from people asking me which software they should use, but this is definitely a much more scientific and knowledgeable resource than I am! They also have a forum, which is a great place to ask wiki-related questions and get answers from people who know a lot about wikis. Of course, many wiki software options also have their own forums as well.
The moral of the story is, if you want to create a wiki, there is a software option out there that will meet your needs and there will likely be people online who know that software front and back, and can help you. So go for it!