Wikis and other collaborative tools.

I find the use of wikis to be a fascinating subject.  Obviously, applications like Twitter and Facebook are helpful in disseminating messages, but the collaborative element inherent in wikis takes social media to a much higher level – particularly within the library world.  As the provided Farkas article noted, as libraries work to become physical community and neighbourhood hubs, wikis might work to develop online communities between libraries and their patrons.

Indeed, while I was on co-op with the Kingston Public Library, I was privileged with the opportunity to do a little visual purchasing the Overdrive, the library’s online collection.  Circulation numbers, for the online material, is small but growing.  One of my thoughts to drive circulation was for the library to develop an online forum for electronic borrowers to discuss titles they’ve seen or hope to borrow.   If patrons are borrowing material online already, how difficult would it be to generate a more meaningful discourse?  Attempts were made to develop online communities in the past, but met with little success.  Admittedly, these attempts were prior to electronic books and tablets.

I wonder if the popularity in tablets and other mobile devices will drive an increase in online participation?  As we become more engaged – if only because our online access and presence becomes more consistent (constant?) – will we be more likely to collaborate with the sites we visit?  In Kingston, I wondered if more people borrowed electronic resources (and rarely set foot within the physical confines of the library), would these people be more likely to interact online with the library?  I suspect that broader communities are only now ready to be built.

2 Comments on “Wikis and other collaborative tools.”

  1. rlcoffin says:

    I’m really curious about how to increase collaboration and participation too, Richard. Currently, on my coop, we’re trying to encourage patrons to simply subscribe to RSS feeds and even to visit our website – let alone to actually have discussion! It seems to be very challenging to break into peoples’ habits and routines and actually change them permanently, rather than to have no change, or just a “one-off” participation experience. I would like to compare the habits of native tech users to say, later adopters of Web 2.0 to see if there are differences in their behavior!

    • Thanks Rachael. When I was on co-op with the Courts Administration Service, in Ottawa, there was a recurring discussion on how to get the internal library users (judges and their clerks) participate with the online tools. Or even use the site!

      I think your interest in comparing the habits between native tech users and later Web 2.0 adopters is most perceptive. I did a short report for the library on QR Codes – whether there is any use to them. I felt that they certainly have a use: I imagined QR Codes delivering online relevant online information to law clerks as they consulted the physical library materials. However, this simply isn’t needed or happening. Perhaps it is just too soon.

      I still suspect (as I noted above) that much will change with the tablets. I wonder as more and more people become untethered from their desktops – and from their online access – and constantly plugged into wireless internet, they will better embrace and participate in a library’s social media. Or is it still too soon?

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