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ARCHIVES Home

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ARCHIVES  August 2006, Week 3

ARCHIVES August 2006, Week 3

Subject:

Use of wikis in libraries and archives - digest of responses

From:

Alison Hinderliter <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Fri, 18 Aug 2006 12:17:00 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (135 lines)

I want to thank everyone who took the time to respond to my query about wikis as internal knowledgebases.  I found the links and the advice very helpful, and we're moving on to the second step of getting our IT guy and the reference staff all on the same page about it.  I don't know yet what software we'll use, but I can share that info at a later date if anyone's interested.

I'm appending the responses I received below.

Cheers, Alison

Alison Hinderliter
Manuscripts and Archives Librarian
The Newberry Library
60 W. Walton St.
Chicago, IL  60610

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
We've just begun to set up a wiki for our internal divisional use.  As it is, our wiki project is a tentative test for six months to examine whether it's particularly useful for most of the staff.  We find our coworkers are divided between those who enjoy keeping abreast and trying out new ideas, and those who strongly prefer to keep doing things the way they've always been doing things and don't like any change.  In this respect, you should read up on strategies for adopting a wiki -- it takes a lot of work to change staff attitudes and behavior. 

As a previous respondent said, you can't consider setting up an onsite wiki without a lot of communication with your IT department.  When we expressed interest in this kind of software, our IT department asked us a couple of good questions, the best of which was:  "Why do you need a wiki as opposed to an internal website?"  In other words, if you just want to have documentation available, you don't need a wiki for that.  You need to ask yourselves, "What exactly do you want to achieve using a wiki that you can't achieve in other ways?" 

As it turned out, our IT department selected the software for us, based on a variety of factors (ease of installation, documentation, firewall safety, IP authentication, etc.) - and they--like many libraries in the US--chose MediaWiki, the same software that runs Wikipedia. 

I suggest you to look at Library Success, a library wiki that discusses the use of wikis in libraries, and concludes with an extensive bibliography: 
http://www.libsuccess.org/index.php?title=Wiki_World 

Bob Kosovsky, Ph.D., Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Music Division -- The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

***************************************************************************************

I'm in the process of working on a group project for one of my MLIS
classes at Dominican (River Forest, IL) and our subject is wikis - what
they are, how to use then, how various libraries are using them, etc.  
In my research, I discovered  WikiMatrix (http://www.wikimatrix.org).
This site provides detailed descriptions of over 50 wiki software
choices, and enables you to compare features of various wikis
side-by-side. It also has a neat feature called the Wiki Choice Wizard,
which recommends wiki software options based on your answers to a few
basic questions. Wiki Choice Wizard then displays the details of your
recommended options in spreadsheet fashion in order for you compare
their features side by side.  Pretty cool.  
Also, feel free to check out our wiki: http://lis753wiki.pbwiki.com/.
Please keep in mind it's a work in progress - our presentation is not
until this weekend.  I put together the "Do it Yourself" page.  I
gleaned much of my information from Meredith Wolfwater's great articles - 
http://www.webjunction.org/do/DisplayContent?id=11262 - and SirsiDynix
talk on Wikis (http://sirsidynixinstitute.com/seminar_page.php?sid=66).
She's pretty much the wiki guru in libraryland.  
We also have a list of libraries that are using wikis in various ways.  
Good luck and have fun!  

Laura L. Carroll, M.A. , Archivist II, Records Management and Archives
American Medical Association

**************************************************************************************

WIKI is still in place at the University of Iowa Special Collections department. It began as a collection point for PastPerfect data entry standards and notes, then included a processing plan for one of our largest collections. Later additions were questions for a software tutorial, Archives policy statements, and a chronology of the department. The newest use is for comments and notes about a Web redesign project. Itís a great place to pool comments, suggestions, etc. The nice thing is that everyone can edit, yet the original document and all subsequent changes are still available. It beats e-mailing back and forth, especially if itís a team project.
Kathryn Hodson, Special Collections Department Manager, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420, Phone: (319) 335-5921, [log in to unmask]
We are using wikis for a variety of purposes here at Simmons. The 
application that's most similar to what you're talking about is one we 
set up for the reference staff at the college library. They are now 
using it as a supplement/replacement for their binder of procedures.

We have also set them up for a number of purposes within the GSLIS, 
including one for the front desk, one for the faculty office, and one 
for the tech group.

We have standardized on Mediawiki, because it's free (open source), 
fairly flexible and people are familiar with it from other large wiki 
projects like Wikipedia. There are a number of extensions available for 
it, and it is updated with new features fairly frequently. It also runs 
very well on PHP/MySQL/Linux, which are all free, so it can be a very 
economical solution. I was able to get this running on our server fairly 
easily, but depending on your level of expertise with MySQL/PHP, you 
might need to find a technical person to do the setup.

I can't comment much on the pay services, but they may offer a good 
option if you have concerns about the technical aspects of installing 
your own. I've heard that some may offer WYSIWYG editing, which 
MediaWiki currently doesn't support natively. I don't think this is a 
big deal, though, since the Mediawiki coding is very straighforward and 
easy to learn.  For example:

==This is a heading==

I can link to a new page [[like this]].

Hope this helps,

David Dwiggins, Deanís Fellow for Technology Support
Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College

**********************************************************************************

Using wiki technology as a way to share knowledge internally is an
approach that several newspaper and magazine research departments have
already adopted. In fact, a session at the recent annual conference of
the Special Libraries Association's News Division covered this very
topic. I attended this session, and here at the Sporting News, we are
about to begin using wikis in this fashion.

As a first step, I would suggest that you visit the Wikipedia itself.
Its article on wiki technology includes an enormous chart comparing and
contrasting many different varieties of wiki software. I found this
chart very helpful.

Next, you should consult with your own IT people. The fact is that,
irrespective of what software might appeal to you, the package you
choose has to be compatible with your institution's operating system and
with other IT requirements. Better to get IT involved earlier than
later.

Once IT is on board, you can then begin playing with various software
products. Most have demos, and these include a "sandbox" where you can
practice and play without doing damage to anything.

Some may blanche at the very word "wiki," but using wikis in this way
have three distinct advantages: first, they truly encourage cooperation,
the best way to build a knowledge community (unless, of course, you know
it all); second, they require no knowledge of HTML and very little in
the way of coding; and third, they can be created very quickly (wiki,
wiki). I know some news organizations that use many wikis, not just one,
and they are creating them all the time!

Steve Gietschier, Senior Managing Editor, Research, Sporting News

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