Alchemical Thoughts

On Wikis, and some culture change

Posted on: March 13, 2007

Still cleaning out some clippings, I came across this post by Brian Matthews on building a wiki and getting the other librarians to use it. He did not succeed the first time, but he said he would give it another go. I may have to send him a line sometime to see how things went. Having a wiki for our use in public services has been something I have been suggesting for a while. My Systems Librarian agrees with me; he even went the maverick route by installing a computer "box" so he could host a wiki locally as an experiment. I feel awful because I have not had the time to look at it or play with it. But what bothers me is that it seems generating interest from other people is next to impossible. Maybe a demo, or better yet, simply targetting some people directly to collaborate based on their skills or interest. We could solve a few problems when it comes to reference if we had answers that we constantly have to look up in a handy location. This is just one idea. The thing is the old problem of getting the rest to do it.

Brian writes,

Long story short, we launched Fall 2006 and it didn’t work. No one added anything. They’d often remark, “Brian, you should add this to your wiki” or they would forget that the answers to “irregular” questions were available to them within a few clicks, but they didn't use the wiki and instead searched through old emails. It seems I was unable to transfer the community and convenience concepts effectively, and I found myself not updating since others didn’t appear to be using it either.

This resonated with me because it was what I felt when it came to the library blog that we currently have. Our Engineering Tech Librarian posts items in her area, and our Web Librarian pretty much posts on anything else. We have two business librarians, but one of them does not participate, and the other, our director, does it when she feels like it pretty much, making for some irregular posting. Though I have access to post, given that vibe, I did not feel very encouraged, so I stopped posting in favor of doing other projects that I think will serve my students better. I feel awful admitting that I could be contributing and choose not to, but it does not seem to make a difference whether I do or not, and therein lies the problem for me. So I go and do things that I know might work and that I don't have to depend on anyone else. Yet I know that others have things they could contribute to the library blog. For instance, I know our Social Sciences Librarians come across all sorts of interesting things, not to mention they happen to select interesting books in their areas. Highlighting one or two selections once in a while would be a good way to use the library blog. Anyhow, just a thought.

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March 2007
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