I’m rather aware that this blog has been neglected over the last couple of months. This is partly due to personal reasons and partly due to the fact that our FIL* conference is fast approaching and there’s been a lot of organising to do! As mentioned previously we’ve experimented this year by using a wiki to plan the conference. First it was restricted to the committee and then, once we’d got some pages up and running, it was opened up to all FIL members and advertised on our mailing list and website. The aim of the wiki was really to help the conference committee keep track of the planning and make sure that there was one place where we could always find things like the most up to date version of the programme and the latest to do list. Once we opened it up, the wiki became a useful place to direct anyone who wanted to find out more about the planned programme and invited speakers without needing to upload a word or PDF version to the official website every week.
So far… as of today we have 112 email addresses receiving notifications of changes to the wiki and since putting a site counter on the front page about 6 weeks ago we have had 240 visits. Considering that we expect about 60 delegates to the actual conference I’ve been quite astonished by the takeup. Unfortunately we didn’t really build evaluation into the initial idea and so the site counter was only added a few months after the wiki was launched. We’ve also kept the wiki private so far although the ‘invite key’ (password) is clearly shown on our website and was included in the mailing list information.
The email notifications have caused some problems as we went for a free account and put all the information on one wiki, including our planning lists and notes. This means that even though the committee pages were not linked from the home page, delegates were getting email notifications that didn’t really have any relevance to them, such as which committee members were going to help put the conference packs together! As the wiki was set as private the RSS feeds were disabled so the email notifications were the only way for people to keep up to date and this may not have been the best option. As an alternative I created an Interlend blog at the beginning of May and incorporated it into the wiki as a ‘news’ page so that anyone who wanted the important updates could subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed instead but I have no idea whether anyone is actually reading it at the moment! We are also considering creating a separate ‘planning’ wiki to keep hidden the information that is only of interest to the planning committee.
I’m really looking forward to chatting to people at the conference about our web 2.0 experiments and asking for feedback that we can use to plan for next year. At the very least, it should have increased the number of delegates who can say they know what a wiki is!
Further evaluation once the votes are in…
*FIL – Forum for Interlending and Information Delivery – http://www.cilip.org.uk/fil
In case you haven’t already come across them, Michael Stephens has posted his Tech Tips for Every Librarian over on Tame the Web. The articles were originally published in Information Today and cover subjects such as using Meebo for IM, Flickr for library marketing and Netvibes & RSS for an info-portal. Go have a look… right now!
An interesting post by Meredith Farkas We have wiki has prompted me to write a little about the wikis I’ve experimented with over the last 6 months. Back in June we needed a tool to collaborate on the training for our new LMS. It needed to be easily accessible by all of the trainers and allow us to share thoughts on the material and programme without sending hundreds of emails round. I was pleasantly surprised when a wiki was suggested and we ended up using pbwiki as it was very easy to set up and had a WYSIWYG editor that anyone could use. We then demonstrated the wiki at the end of the training sessions and opened it up to all staff to ask questions and add their own thoughts. Although it then gathered dust for a couple of months while the LMS was delayed it was then resurrected when we went live and again had a need to share information and answer questions that everyone could see. Now things have settled down, we’re getting used to the LMS and the wiki has gone quiet again but the great thing is that over the last few months nearly every member of staff looked at the wiki for information and a number of people have had a go at adding information. Six months ago most of them had never heard of a wiki! The lessons I’ve learned from this so far include… not calling a wiki a wiki unless you want to spend a lot of time explaining what a wiki is; spend some time setting up pages and writing a useful front page so that people can jump straight in and start typing; use a wiki for people to ask questions and then not only can everyone see the answers but you can also search for them easily when you need to update the information; use a wiki with WYSIWYG editor as any amount of HTML is hugely offputting!
The second wiki I’m involved with is a conference wiki set up for our annual Forum for Interlending conference this year, Interlend 2008. As our conference committee is spread from Scotland to the south of England we are only expecting to meet a couple of times in person and last year the amount of emails we used to organise things was incredible. As my email client is not great at searching I spent a lot of time saying “I know I read that somewhere…” and sending and receiving information that had already gone round at least once. So far we have used the wiki to plan out the conference programme, discuss and share information on possible speakers and create a list of questions and answers about the practical aspects such as costs and transport. Next week we plan to open the wiki up to delegates so that they can see the programme develop and share their thoughts and questions on the delegates’ page and I’d like to have an update blog that people could read via RSS or on the wiki. Anyone interested in seeing the conference wiki in action after next week can email me for the password.
I’ve just have a fascinating few days at Interlend 07, the Forum for Interlending and Information Delivery’s annual conference. Unfortunately the venue did not have wireless access so I’m now in the lovely cafe at the British Film Institute catching up on email, feeds etc and contemplating the last few days. I’m planning to write more about the conference once I’ve had a chance to go through my notes but here’s a related post about a resource I’ve just discovered. ShareILL is described as “a gateway to electronic and print resources pertaining to all aspects of interlibrary loan (ILL), document delivery, and resource sharing” and although it is a US project it has a lot of information already which is useful to us ILL folk outside the US. Most useful sections I have found so far are a list of National Libraries and Archives which is promoted as the most complete and current list of national library web sites in the world and also the Gateways and Union Catalogs page which has links to union catalogues around the world. What I find most appealing about this wiki, however, is the possibilities it offers in updating and adding information. I’ve already added some links and information relating to UK sources that I use and I’d like to see more UK and global librarians getting involved. Rather than set up a UK based wiki I think it would be good to use this resource and encourage a more global perspective on interlending. Now I”m off to think up some more sites and information to add to the wiki.
Thanks to Paul Raven for mentioning this as I’m really excited to find our neighbours Portsmouth City Libraries have launched a library wiki for book lovers!! The Book Case is described as “Portsmouth Library Service’s unofficial website for readers, guiding you through the overwhelming choice of what to read next and inviting you to share your reading experiences through reviews and recommendations” and it was officially launched today so I look forward to see how it develops. Congratulations Portsmouth – it looks good!
I’m very excited at the moment because we’re using a wiki as part of our LMS training project! Only been going for a week or so but most people have edited it now and it has been a very useful way of sharing ideas. At the moment it is more a collection of conversations than an interactive wiki but it has been interesting to see how people use it and what their first steps are. It also saves me sending out an email with attachment every time I edit the training documents, instead I can upload the updated file to the wiki and everyone knows that the version on the wiki is the most up to date version. Final versions can go on the intranet as usual but this way I can make drafts easily available for comment. It’s a useful way to try out a wiki because it is a short term project with a small group of people involved. Hopefully I will be posting more on this over the next couple of months looking at how we use it and what the pros and cons turn out to be.
UK blogging librarians springing up everywhere – to tie in with the Plymouth Libraries’ Flickr account mentioned earlier here’s a link to a blogger from the South West… Library Notes is written by a librarian working towards Chartership and it shows how blogging seems to be gaining popularity as a useful way of keeping track of reading and professional development. I’m especially looking forward to reading the posts about Umbrella as I won’t be there in person, just via the blogosphere! Found via the Umbrella wiki Clippers2007