Michael and Maire posted about their library’s awesome Subject Guide wiki. And awesome it is! It is easily accessible from their library’s main page, and already has 17 subjects listed (last Friday there were three, so those librarians are busy!). And nowhere on the website is the word “Wiki” mentioned, which is great – the term would just confuse most patrons (and those who know what wikis are will recognize it as a wiki anyway).
Click on a Subject Guide, and you get a variety of info, depending on the Guide. For example, the Business Guide currently includes Company Information, Personal Finance Planning, Programs and Events, links, etc. And the best part? They get the whole Subject Guide thing – they’re pointing to their content: linking to their databases, books, and events. They’re even pointing to a few non-library events that are focused on the particular subject guide’s topic – way cool.
Then the wiki part kicks in… each guide has a discussion section where customers can add comments to the guide – think instant feedback, content contributions, and a stronger sense of community. And – if you really want to – you can subscribe to the Recent Changes RSS feed (it’s sorta hidden, and sorta techie-looking – but it IS a way to see what’s being updated).
But that’s just for patrons… what about staff? The nice thing about a wiki, of course, is the built-in ability to edit pages without having to know HTML, PHP, Ajax, or any number of nasty coding languages. You can just edit, update, and creat useful content. The wiki is set up for library staff to log in and edit (and no one else gets to), which is fine in this instance.
Visual design: It currently looks very much like a wiki – which works for SJCPL. Their website currently uses a white background with images to brighten things up, and so the wiki’s white background and text blends in nicely. But I’m curious about how much can be changed, design-wise, with this wiki. I’d hate to go from my library’s tan/brown colors to the default wiki white – that’d be sorta jarring to our customers.
Are there other libraries using wiki’s for subject guides? Yes. Check out Ohio University Libraries Biz Wiki. And check out this great article on what librarians can do with a wiki, written by Meredith. So go – check out the wiki subject guides, read Meredith’s article, then sit and think: will this help my library meet our goals? If so, go for it!