Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Library Wikis

My thoughts on the wikis in exercise 3, week 1.

St Joseph County Library's Subject Guide. I liked it a lot. It brought up books from their collection which link to the catalog entry. They encourage user feedback through the discussion pages. The only page (and I didn't take the time to go through every page) that had user feedback was the main page, and that was from another librarian.

University of Huddersfield's. Why a Wiki, wouldn't a static web page have served them as well? From the recent changes it looks like they have issues with spammers. How much effort is going into keeping the site clean?

University of Minnesota. Nice look and feel. Great resource for staff. Obviously they put a lot of thought and content into it. I'd like to know how they got everyone to cooperate and provide content. I am very impressed.

University of Connecticut. Lots of useful staff information provided, from how to get to your email to system documentation to sections of the library explaining what they do.

Butler University: I'm not sure a wiki is the best way to provide access to online databases and paper reference materials. One clicks on a resource and then what?

Open WorldCat. I like the concept. Merging a bibliographic utility database with a wiki for easier contributions to records by catalogers and readers.

The geekier side of me thinks that Wikis are a great way for library staff to easily add content to informative pages without having to know how to program or edit html. The curmudgeon side of me think that there sure are a lot of resources and staff time devoted to this stuff and does our audience really care?


Dave Pattern said...

Just picking up on your comments...

We had static pages here, there and everywhere, but they were so well hidden that the students struggled to find them. Plus staff really hated updating them!

We had a lot of feedback from students that they wanted there to just be one place for information about the electronic resource.

A wiki seemed the logical tool to help bring all the content together and allow for collaboration. The individual wiki pages are also embedded into MetaLib, so if a student wants to know about a resource, a single click takes them straight to the relevant wiki page.

Ideally I'd like the students to have full editing access to the wiki, but this is a new technology for our staff and they have to get comfortable with it first.

We've left the discussion pages open just in case any students want to leave comments, so occasional spam is a mild annoyance. However, it takes about 5 seconds to delete it and block the spammers IP address.

I've got the wiki's RSS feed in my Bloglines account, so I can see straight away if there's been any overnight spamming without even visiting the wiki.

The students also make a lot of use of the feedback forms that appear on most of the wiki pages, and the feedback from them has been very positive.

Since launching the wiki, usage of electronic resources has nearly doubled compared to the same period in the previous year. I don't think this is entirely down to the wiki, but I think it's played its part in the increase.

Also, the number of electronic resource support queries we've had since launching the wiki has dropped dramatically. I used to handle several support calls each day, but that's dropped to one or two a week.

Hope the above is of use!

j-seagal said...

Thanks for chimeing in with your experience at Huddersfield.

Sounds like it is definately working for you if it's reduced the number of support queries yet increased the usage of the resources.

Dave: In case you were wondering why suddenly people are blogging about your wiki, your library is one of the examples being looked at for an online course being offered through Infopeople to California librarians.

Dave Pattern said...

Cool -- I occasionally do Technorati searches for "huddersfield library" just to see if any of our students are saying rude things about us(!) and spotted your blog post in the recent results.

It definitely a "work in progress" and we're a relatively small University library with around about 20 members of staff who edit the wiki, but it's not really ingrained in the work ethic yet. I'd love to see the staff doing more editing and fleshing out some of the content, but I guess we'll just keep chipping away at it a little bit at a time!

More recently, we set up a wiki to replace the bulky procedures manual on the Information Desk:

Staff have been much more enthusiastic about adding content to that (probably because they hated the manual more than they hated the old e-resource web pages!) and hopefully that'll start rubbing off on the electronic resources wiki too :-)

Wikis are definitely a lot of work to set up initially, but I think they're worth it if you're taking a long term view. I think I might pluck up my courage after Easter and suggest it's high time we let the students start editing the pages too.

I must admit I'm extremely flattered that you're looking at our wiki, although it's definitely not in the same league as Minnesota and Connecticut :-D

Just out of interest, is it just the wiki you're looking at on the course, or are you looking at our OPAC too?

I'm not sure how relevant it will be for your course, but you might want to check out

Hope you have fun and good luck with the rest of the course!

LibrarianInBlack said...

Thanks for your comments here Dave! This is an Infopeople I'm teaching (Sarah Houghton-Jan/LibrarianInBlack) and it's so nice to see some "real life" people participating in our blogs :) Your site is a great one, btw, which is why it made it on to my list.