Monday, 9 August 2010

Thing 22 - Wikis

Welcome to Week 12 and Thing 22!
And so here we are at the penultimate Thing. Fear not if you are behind the game, as you have until 27 August to complete the programme. Plenty of time.

After completing Thing 22
You will have considered the value and applicability of wikis to library services.

What is a wiki?
Until I started researching for this post I had thought that wiki stood for 'What I Know Is...' but apparently it's a Hawaiian word for fast or quick. To use it in a sentence: 'that Hula Girl is really wiki'. The first wiki, the WikiWikiWeb created way back in 1994 was named after Honolulu airport's wiki wiki shuttle bus (opposite). The difference between WikiWikiWeb and other websites of the time was that it was the first one through which you could alter and comment upon someone else's text. Its creator Ward Cunnigham has said that wikis: 'invite all users to edit any page or to create new pages.. and involves the visitor in an ongoing process of creation'. In recent years, retaining this same basic premise, they have became widely adopted as collaborative tools used for information sharing and project work.
For much more on wikis visit Wikipedia, which is of course the most successful and best known wiki of them all. There is neither the time nor the space here to discuss the merits or otherwise of Wikipedia, but there can be no denying that part of its popularity and endurance is due to its wiki functionality.

Which wiki software?
In terms of wiki creation, PBWorks is widely regarded to be the best software currently available, for which basic workspaces are free to librarians. In the weeks leading up to this year's Business Librarians Association conference, the organising team (of which I was a member) used a PBWorks wiki to great advantage (the principle advantage being a vast reduction in email).

What are librarians using wikis for?
Librarians are currently using wikis for a variety of purposes: to produce staff manuals and subject guides, to manage projects, and as Intranets. For a list of library wikis and uses visit the Library Success Wiki. It's also well worth a look at LibraryWikis, a wiki all about wikis used in libraries. Another useful resource is Anna Laura Brown's Wikis for Libraries site.

If you're still not convinced about the value of wikis, or still don't understand why they're unique, once again I heartily recommend a video in the 'In Plain English' series:

The following PPT on Slideshare is also a useful resource:

Cambridge Librarians TeachMeet Wiki
A wiki is currently being used to promote an excellent initiaive called TeachMeet which will be held on 27 September. This is an opportunity for librarians to share their experiences of teaching and technology. You can come along to this event to chat, meet new people, or give a seven minute talk, a two minute nano presentation or lead a conversation. Make sure you check out the wiki for more information and, better still, to sign up to present.

Library Routes Wiki
A very worthwhile wiki project which has caught the imagination of many librarians recently is the Library Routes wiki, which is an ever-updating list of librarians who have blogged about how they got into library work and how their careers have developed, providing links to their blog posts. One of the purposes of the project is to give some much needed information and context to new professionals. If you feel so inclined it would be great if some Cam23ers could contribute to this worthwhile project. My own contribution is here.

Completing Thing 22
To complete this Thing, blog about your own experience of wikis in library work. If you don't have any experience yet, blog about a wiki that you have seen and liked, the potential value of wikis, or a specific project for which you might consider employing a wiki.

Next Time
Hold on to the furniture, it's the final Thing..!


  1. thanks for plugging camlibtm, Andy! Looking forward to having a really good session on 27th Sept.

  2. What time will TeachMeet start/finish?

  3. Good point, I thought we had the time on the wiki but it appears not!

    5pm-7pm with the option to go for something to eat afterwards.

    I'll go and update the wiki now, unless someone else has beaten me to it.

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