Monday, January 16, 2006

Wiki Subject Guides

As far as I can tell, there seems to be increasing interest in the use of wiki or collaborative editing technology to carry out various library activities, including the creation of subject guides.
The St. Joseph County Public Library in South Bend, Indiana recently attracted quite a lot of library commentary after it launched its wiki-based subject guides. Librarians use the wiki editing technology that does not require any coding or HTML knowledge. The software does allow discussion by users (but not any direct editing of the guides) so professionals maintain editorial and quality control.

David King, Acting IT Director at Kansas City Public Library, has commented on the project: "(T)hey're pointing to their content: linking to their databases, books, and events. They're even pointing to a few non-library events that are focused on the particular subject guide's topic - way cool. Then the wiki part kicks in... each guide has a discussion section where customers can add comments to the guide - think instant feedback, content contributions, and a stronger sense of community. And - if you really want to - you can subscribe to the Recent Changes RSS feed... The nice thing about a wiki, of course, is the built-in ability to edit pages without having to know HTML, PHP, Ajax, or any number of nasty coding languages. You can just edit, update, and create useful content. The wiki is set up for library staff to log in and edit (and no one else gets to), which is fine in this instance."

Last September on Webjunction, Meredith Farkas authored an article entitled Using Wikis to Create Online Communities that described the potential for the use of wikis within libraries, not only for subject guides, but also for adding annotations to catalogue entries and for project management: " Wikis are an excellent space for collaborative group work. All of the planning and communications can be documented in the wiki rather than in emails that can easily be deleted. Everyone can make changes to the wiki. If the group is working on a document, it can be edited in the wiki rather than having different versions of a word processing file going back and forth through email. It’s simply a better way of organizing the group’s efforts and keeping track of where everyone is in the process."

The higher education publication Educause has additional information concerning the 7 Things You Should Know About Collaborative Editing Tools and the 7 Things You Should Know About Wikis.

Of course, in the field of law, there is the ongoing debate about the open-content Wikilaw legal resource project that Slaw was discussing today.

Other library wikis are listed on the LISwiki.com site.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:33 pm

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