Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thing 16: Wikis

Thank goodness the days of index cards and printed lists for pathfinders and key resources are gone. Wikis are even more versatile than bookmarking sites like de.lici.ous for tracking not only web sites, but also print materials and media on specific topics. Bookmarking sites are restricted by having to link to other sites on the web, whereas any type of information can be entered into a wiki. Staff who specialize in reference/non-fiction, local history, fiction, young adult, and children's areas can create their own pages of frequently asked questions and subjects for which it is difficult to find resources. How handy this would be for homework alerts, African-American month, Hispanic month, science projects, and other topics that come up year after year. New staff can benefit from research performed by existing staff, and anyone can add on as they encounter valuable new resources.

Another good use would be for software documentation. Over the years we've gotten away from printed manuals on how to use our library software. As staff discover shortcuts or best practices on how to perform a function, it would be extremely valuable to document the information in a wiki where it is searchable/easy to locate and available for anyone to improve upon.

I was struck by the concept of creating a wiki as a web-based notebook to organize thoughts. When I'm working on a large project, I tend to organize by creating lists and assigning completion dates to each task. For something smaller, I simply start with a document or email. The advantage of using a wiki is that changes and additions are made easily and the information can be shared with other participants in the project.

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