Tuesday, 10 August 2010

'Seal the island, Dan'l'

[Sorry, the title won't mean anything to most people, but couldn't think of another one. And, whadd'ya know? Joan was in an episode!]

Having wrestled with the roughly-equivalent subjects of CMSs and the clunky, inflexible and unlovely Camtools, I was feeling a bit cynical about library-related wikis. Wikis and CMS-enabled sites can be useful, but as Camtools has demonstrated, they don’t quite take off as expected. Not everyone embraces the concept with the institutionally-desired enthusiasm, especially when one is trying to wrangle academics. I am the administrator of a couple of Camtools sites, and run a Departmental website, so I know it is MURDER trying to get people other than the helpful few to contribute. News? New grants? Interesting research? Images? Stonewalled. Make it up yourself.

Most of the wikis we were asked to look at were indistinguishable from a normal website to the untrained eye, so it would be great in such circumstances if more staff could add and amend. However, someone has to end up being Miss Trunchbull, or there are endless wrangles about the more trivial aspects, such as design [as I got last summer, whilst the far more important content part was still left for me to sort out]. However, the idea that the relatively untrained can add bits is excellent. Templates, and the entry box with similar actions to Word, are wonderful wheezes. [Blogger is a great example of a Web 2.0 tool that anyone can use and produce a pretty decent-looking product]

And then I saw Antioch University's awesomely comprehensive staff training wiki. God, that must have taken some work, but what an excellent resource. No need to ask that old bag again how to print a spine label - it's all there, and you can do it in brown-wrapper secrecy! ...I did notice though that a lot of the wikis recommended were still used amongst staff and not reaching out to users.

I also noticed the frequency of the 'Ask a Librarian' box, which we know the CSL uses. Frankly, I'd rather people followed a link and e-mailed me. The worry would be that if I did not constantly check, there's nobody else to answer those interesting 'What are you wearing under that tweed skirt?' questions. It would definitely be enormously useful to obtain readers' opinions and suggestions, and if a wiki gives them the opportunity to do that whilst the thought is hot so to speak], then great. I got some refreshingly frank and helpful comments a while back in a library survey, but such responses are not 'of the instant' and constrained by the questions asked.

So, yes, wikis are a great idea, and most useful in many circumstances. But alas, once again, unlikely to be of use in Craildom.

Sh*t. Here comes the flying chalk again.

Oh, and PS, must I pontificate about Wordle? It's a toy

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link to the Antioch wiki - a really interesting idea for the use of a wiki.