Sunday, July 09, 2006

Blog Post 3- Wikis For All And Forever

Last fall when I started at Dominican, I took the Introduction to Library and Information Science. This class was really helpful in that it brought to light a lot of the issues that have faced and are still facing libraries today. One of those issues is that of communication-- libraries have a difficult time communicating with their community and patrons, whether it's about promoting themselves and their programs, asking for feedback, or even just putting the library's voice out into the community. I've been thinking of this problem a lot lately, and I really think that wikis are a great solution.

One of the best ways to go about communicating to the public and with the public is through wikis. Libraries can use them to post information such as hours of operation; special events or a program schedule; or they could promote certain books and include information about the book and book reviews given by staff and librarians. Wikis are wonderful for so many more reasons. Besides the fact that a library could post this information, wikis also provide the opportunity for the library staff to edit the content, so wikis are perfect for posting information that changes frequently. Not only that, but patrons can get involved too and edit the content as well. This is where it gets really exciting. This is where the librarians and patrons can communicate with each other without even having to meet face to face. Say Lisa's Public Library has an "LPL Calendar of Events Wiki" that lists there's a program on Sat. afternoon. Maybe the librarian who was going to lead that a program had to leave town quickly, so the library updated the wiki and took that program off the list. Maybe the patrons who read this wiki are sad that the program's not happening anymore. These sad and disappointed patrons could just edit the content to say they'd like this program to be postponed, not cancelled. That information is good for the library to know.

Not only can library wikis be good for promoting programs, but they're also good for promoting library collections. I think this is what excites me most about wikis. Because of their easy editing capabilities, wikis are good places for libraries to post any bibliographies, indexes, pathfinders, and maybe someday even catalogs. What a perfect place to provide information that is constantly changing. Unfortunately, I didn't come up with this idea on my own. This is what's happening on the Biz Wiki, a wiki created by Chad Boeninger for Ohio University's Business Library. I found this site through an ALATech Source article written by Michael Stephens. In this article, Chad says that so far there haven't been any students to edit the content in the Biz Wiki, but I think (and so does he) that it's so exciting that they have the opportunity to! How great to put something like your collections information out there and say, "Here, please play with this information and give us feedback so we can make it better." If that's not communicating with the community, I don't know what is.


Blogger Joy Austria said...

Shiny idea Lisa! You know what's cooler than Todd Fancey? Combining the library catalog and wikis. When you pull up a record for a book title, not only will you see traditional catalog information (call number, etc.) but patrons can edit the catalog with their own comments on the book (a la Amazon).

People can write book reviews or provide their own suggestions (similar titles, better titles, etc.).

This may assist librarians in collection development. It's a cool way of doing "market research." We can monitor what titles are being read, items they want but we don't have, what's going on in a genre, etc.

Am I making sense? Still recovering from The Blacks.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Michael Stephens said...

Good post... I like the idea of the library web site as wiki! What do you think? Is a lot of it about TRUST?

8:29 AM  
Blogger lisa s. said...

I do think A LOT of it is about trust, Michael, and I think it's important not only for librarians to trust their patrons and community, but also for librarians to SHOW that they trust their patrons and community. I've been wondering lately if some of the problems facing libraries and librarians occur because patrons don't feel trusted enough.

4:48 PM  

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