Using Wiki’s in Libraries

My next cross post from my Preparing Instructional Media class is about Wikis.  Wikis are publicly created collaborative spaces that hold information on a given topic.

There seems to be Wikis out there on just about every subject.  Authors have Wikis for the worlds they create, like the Tamora Pierce or The Leviathan Wikis.  Even Star Wars has it’s own Wiki, called the Wookiepedia.  So what not use them in libraries and education?

I think the author Wikis would be a great thing for libraries to provide the links to.  Fans of a particular author would be able to look up information on their favorite books and characters.  These would be great for youth librarians.

Subject Wikis would be great research tools to have in libraries, especially Academic or school media centers.  A classmate suggested a Wiki on the American Revolution, and I think that is a great idea.  Wiki’s on different historical events, or a one Wiki devoted to numerous events is a great research tool.  The articles could list information and books and sites that would be helpful to the researcher.

My group did their Wiki on different genres and I think a genre guide is a great thing for a library.  You cold update it with “new editions in ___” and have lists of popular books in each genre so that people who liked a certain book can find similar books or pick a book from a genre they want to try.  This could incorporate reader’s advisory by doing reviews of the books mentioned in the articles to further help patrons in choosing books.

Wikis are a great collaborative venture for a group of people and PBWorks is a great site to host them.  PB works allows you to give different people different privileges, so you don’t have to worry about the wrong person deleting information or adding information that might be wrong.  This is very helpful and is a benefit of the site.

But having many people working together can be an advantage and a disadvantage at times.  While it’s great to split the work load and share responsibility so that one person isn’t burdened, there is always the the possibility that someone will not pull their weight.  If this happens, it puts everyone else at a disadvantage.

The benefits of using wikis in libraries is the that the wealth of information in them is not part of the library’s collection.  As long as the wiki is maintained and not deleted, your patrons can continue to enjoy the access to it.  A drawback might be if they are deleted or not properly maintained.  Then you run the risk of the information being out of date.  Another drawback is if the maintainers aren’t careful over who has editing access.  The fact that Wikis are a public entity that can be edited by seemingly anyone is a huge mark against them, but it can be controlled.
The Wiki I did with my groupmates can be found here.

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