LISWiki's First Birthday

At the end of this month, LISWiki (check out the about page if you haven't looked at it recently) will be one year old. As you can see from browsing its categories pages, there has been some preliminary growth of the site. However, it has yet to turn into a widespread success of being the library and information science wiki. Read on for a recap of the past year's achievements, and of course some ideas on how you can help make the project better.

LISWiki's statistics page gives a summary of what has been viewed and added so far. The list of chatting libraries has proven popular in both contributions and use, as have other directory pages. Top search engine queries driving people to the site include "librarian interview questions" and "how to give a presentation," illustrating that more HOWTO pages would be useful.

A donation of "library lingo" term definitions has helped build a basecoat of short entries, and there have been some good developments with the cataloging entries. Provocative pieces on the future of libraries have also received attention.

There have been a few cases of wiki vandalism, mostly in the form of spam bots adding links to external sites. This problem is well under control, and is assisted with some MediaWiki extensions for combating vandalism. Sadly, no edit wars have yet to break out on such contentious articles as Independent Cuban Libraries.

Although there has been some good growth, there is of course room for more contributions. Surely anyone reading this knows something about library science and librarianship which isn't shared on LISWiki. What's stopping you from adding it? From my perspective, a combination of mostly unfounded fears or even disdain of wikis (see my comment below for more on this) along with basic time constraints have prohibited people from contributing more, but that's just my speculation.

One of the more peculiar phenomena to watch unfold is that innovative and wiki-friendly librarians have chosen to branch out on their own and create separate sites. Case in point, after the Weblogs list at LISWiki was built up to over 1,000 links, the Blogging Libraries Wiki was launched.

Who knows what the future holds for the site? I'm just as curious as a I was last June as to what will happen. I'm just happy to provide an experimental playground to share and develop library information (I'm out a grand total of $7.20 so far) on a platform for those who care to freely share their ideas.


There were some posts about Wikipedia on ILI-L a few months ago. They included such gems as "if they can't find out who the author is (credentials, education, affiliation), don't use it" and "only to use Wikipedia if they are willing to hand a stranger in the street a knife and let them remove their tonsils." Don't use anonymous works? So much for Bible Studies! I'm reminded of Mr. Weasley's statement in Harry Potter, "We have a very different idea about what disgraces the name of wizard, Malfoy."Any librarian that is so opposed to wikis and them being used by people is fighting windmills. The way they empower everyone to contribute, for better or for worse, has improved the distribution of knowledge. And free and open access trumps what may be better quality sources (assuming they're up to date) collecting mold in your hallowed stacks.Why are some librarians so jealous about this? Do they miss the closed stacks environment where we were information gatekeepers that much, or are they just afraid of a change to a new publishing model? Anyone looking to forbid content should be put into a time machine and sent back to work with someone like the Brother Librarian in The Name of the Rose.Rather than restricting use, it would be nice to get with the times and educate users with information literacy skills and holistic evaluation techniques for what they're going to use anyway. Given what else can contain misinformation, there's nothing "radical" about trusting Wikipedia and other wikis any much more than believing whatever you read nowadays.I don't see how we can say stuff like "don't use Wikipedia" and have the right to whine about those "bunhead" librarian portrayals; I see the refusal to acknowledge the realities and benefits of new publication types as propagating our poor image problems. The ways which traditional publishing (and librarianship!) has been bypassed by new tools cannot be ignored. So as far as our bad image and getting with the times goes, "neither can live while the other survives."That there are now over a thousand library weblogs out there is a good sign that members of our profession are becoming more willing to and become empowed by freely sharing what they know. But I would rather not read a thousand blogs. I wish we came together at LISNews and LISWiki more than we do now. I'm not saying there should just be one library blog or online community, but there are cases where overlapping redundancy hampers such piecemeal efforts.

One thing about wikis: You get what you pay for and the buyer should beware. Otherwise, it's the greatest democratic platform ever developed.

What is that old saying about each piece of information its medium? I am interested in Wikis for what they can do. Obviously, Wikis have to be one trick in our toolkit and we have to acknowledge applications at which they excel. Encyclopedia type applications are obvious, but what about manuals? Will they work for your library manual? Judges profiles? Can there be a public and private side for external and internal use? I think the possibilities are interesting to think about and explore.

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