Confessions of a 64 69 67 69 74 61 6c Librarian…

Hi my name is, well my name is my business, and anyway… well I’m a wikaholic.  I use Wikipedia… a lot… without regard for authority… or a care in the world who made the last edit.  I’ve been wikaless for 2 days now, but I know it won’t last.  I can’t stop.  It’s just too good.

I’ve seen fellow librarians criticized because “Can you believe it? She used Wikipedia to answer that question!”  While I would agree that taking Wikipedia wholesale as the only source is probably not a valid choice as a professional information gatherer, ignoring it is also not a valid choice.  Wikipedia is often a great start point for finding the terminology one needs to find even more information on a subject area.  I use it this way all the time and where I need to be absolutely sure my answer is correct, I fact check it against a site with some authority once I know what to look for.  Kind of obvious what I think about wikis huh?  Good stuff, mostly.

I took a look around some of the library sites suggested on the Learn and Play page.  Good starts, but definitely smaller wikis.  Either not enough users to provide true content or bad structures that really need the help of a stronger editor.  See I like Wikipedia because it has a huge community who keep it looking and functioning well.  But that just usually is not true on smaller wikis.  Things get too disorganized without a clear vision.  An editor or at least a group of people willing to act as editors is about the only complaint I have with Wikis (the lack of editors I should say).

I think using wikis as pathfinders, announcements boards, and tutorials could be a valuable thing for us to do.  We just need to stick to the minimum, simple wiki and do it right.  Maybe we could even convert all of our internal docs to wiki format (P&P, Best Practices, etc).  This would save much time as we could go in and change things when needed very quickly (and a record of who made the change would exist along with the previous version).  I can see project teams using wikis to build joint information sites with timelines and what needs to be done still. 

All in all, I think the wiki concept is useful.  But we would have to seriously promote it to the public and our staff to get content, keep it simple and clear so people know how to use it, and not clutter it up with junk.  Skip any of those things and we end up with another dead wiki.  There are enough of those out there already.

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