Friday, February 22, 2008

#10: Wiki

OK, this one I'm familiar with! A couple of years ago, I was struggling with how we manage Reader's Advisory information. We have librarian-created reading lists available from our website and catalog - with general categories like 'Fiction Set in Minnesota', 'Legal Thrillers', 'Inspirational Fiction', and 'True Adventure Stories'. But we get more specific requests, too and when we get them often enough, we try to collect that information for future use. These are questions like: Can you help me find some classics for my high-schooler? I want to read other books like Janet Evanovich's. Which authors write Christian/inspirational fiction?

Those questions and others like them, had resulted in various lists, binders, folders, pamphlets, and slips of paper in our building. I also knew that other branches in our system collected the same kinds of information. Also, staff in various buildings had developed their own reading lists, in response to what their patrons were asking for.

Anyway, I thought a wiki might be a good way to organize this kind of information in one location. It would then be accessible to all the buildings, and everybody would be able to contribute to it. Plus, I thought it would be a good way to practice using wikis. I used PB Wiki to create our Reader's Advisory wiki:

The sidebar is constant and provides documents we want to share across buildings - things like printable bookmarks for read-a-like lists, bookmarks of popular series in order, promotional kinds of signs, and links to RA articles. The main page links to various reading lists. (You used to have to know some html to use PBWiki, but now it's not much different from using Word, as far as editing goes).

Staff seem to appreciate the wiki and having easy access to lists when they need them. Several have contributed lists that everyone can benefit from. I think it's a great collaboration tool! I think especially in a library environment, where we're all professionals, the more we collaborate the better. We're a lot smarter and more efficient together than any one of us can be individually.

After I attended the Michael Stephen's Library 2.0 Workshop in the Fall, I added our library system to Wikipedia. I have to say it was not a simple process, and my entry was reviewed and tagged immediately as needing a verifiable source. So I think the controls that have been added more recently to Wikipedia help to make it a more acceptable source. Their editors seem to be right on top of additions/changes, and require some source verification for the information subitted. But because each entry is created by a different person, each entry really needs to be evaluated on its own merits. Bottom line: check out the sources on every Wikipedia entry. Some are good, some maybe not so good.

But now, if you go to wikipedia and search for "Anoka County Library", you'll find an entry for our library system. The entry also links to our website, which may help us to meet people where they are. Statistics show that more people use Wikipedia for research, than use libraries, so why not place ourselves where people are, and (hopefully) redirect them back to us?

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