Thursday, September 17, 2009

Viva La Wiki

Wikis are an interesting method of keeping information in a central place while controlling who can change or comment on it. In the library context, wikis may be most useful for the staff's use or for listing online resources that are not in the catalog for popular reference questions.

The Albany County Public Library Wiki demonstrates the advantages that a wiki can bring to a staff. Staff schedules are posted there weekly, staff brainstorm activities during planning periods, and managers coordinate their duties and tasks there. Wikis present an alternative to using collaborative writing tools like those I mentioned in the previous post. For many of these tasks, it seems wikis are much better suited to the user's needs.

Using wikis to list reviews or suggested book lists may not be as suitable. LibraryThing would better accommodate the ability to review and link like materials together through tags. However, a wiki could be very helpful as an online Reference Desk Resource. The wiki could be accessible not only by library staff but by users as well. It could direct users to reliable online resources for information on the most popular reference questions (similar to FAQs). It could even be updated daily with a "question of the day." One reference librarian could be assigned each day to take a question that they helped a patron answer and add it to the Reference Wiki. New staff and users would both benefit from such an arrangement.

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