Thursday, November 26, 2009

23 Things #16

#16 of the 23 Things is: learn about wikis and discover some innovative ways that libraries are using them.

For the past several months, I have been learning about how libraries use wikis; I am on the Emerging Technologies committee at the library where I work. We have been considering the use of free web-based (hosted) wikis to increase collaboration and productivity among the library system's various departments and committees. Because the library system is made up of six locations, it can be difficult for committee members that work at different locations to find time to meet together. Using wikis to work on projects (such as the handouts that the library's Teaching committee gives to computer class students) will also decrease the amount of emails sent out among committee members. This is one reason why library staff might want to use a wiki. The Emerging Technologies committee has been testing free web-based wikis hosted by and

Other uses for wikis in libraries are varied. Some libraries use wikis to share information with the public (as wikis do not have to be made private), as well as staff (some libraries, for example, post their circulation manuals on public wikis). One great thing about using wikis in an organization like a library is, not only are these great tools for collaboration...they are also easy to use! Besides basic free wikis (with minimal storage space), wikis with great features (such as access controls, which gives a wiki's administrator(s) the power to decide who can view a wiki, who can edit wiki posts, create new posts, et cetera) and plenty of storage space are cheap (annual subscription prices are often less than 300 dollars).

Another benefit to using wikis: web-based wikis are easy to setup and use---anyone that can access the Internet can make changes to a wiki. No need to learn HTML! Libraries can also choose to host open-source wiki software on their own servers--the Emerging Technologies committee looked at this option but decided it would be too time consuming of a project for our IT staff. I also like that you can see who made what changes to a file or page on a wiki (and some wikis will even allow you to undo these changes...however, if using a web-based wiki, you will have to pay for this type of extra feature).

I feel that wikis can be a great tool for libraries seeking to increase collaboration among staff or looking for a cheap, easy way to share information with staff/or customers.

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