Wikis in the Workplace: Enhancing Collaboration and Knowledge Management


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Identification of the benefits of wikis (and blogs) for internal information sharing and as collaborative work spaces in libraries and library organizations. Demonstration of several library wikis that use MediaWiki, pbwiki, and Wikispaces as their platforms and show how simple it is to create pages and edit content. Attendees will also see a few examples of blogs that serve similar purposes.

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  • Slide 1:I plan to identify the benefits of wikis and blogs for internal information sharing and as collaborative work spaces in libraries and library organizations. I’ll do that by demonstrating several wikis that use MediaWiki, pbwiki, and Wikispaces as their platforms and show how simple it is to create pages and edit content. I’ll also show a couple of examples of other social media that can serve similar purposes.First, some disclosure, I have offered very abbreviated version of this presentation at the ORALL county SIG meeting this past spring and an SLA Cincinnati meeting last year. If the slides look familiar, that may be why, but I will go into more detail today at a more leisurely rate.
  • I should start by defining what a wiki is. Here’s the wikipedia definition. We’re probably all familiar with that mother of all wikis, Wikipedia. In a nutshell, a wiki is a website that facilitates very easy editing and content creation by anyone who is allowed on the site. Wikis are useful for efficient information dissemination and collaboration. We’ll see more of the potential uses and specifics as we go along.And before I go on: Do you currently use a wiki or a blog or a Ning community for staff procedures or documentation? It’s okay to take a nap or a walk. Seriously, I will welcome your examples and suggestions. Please jump in with comments either during this session or at the end.
  • And in case you’re keeping track of my progress, here is an outline. This presentation will be available on Authorstream for your viewing pleasure. Its URL is
  • Slide 2You’ve been through this, right? Looking for documentation, files, procedures, and forms that could be anywhere: Network folders, hard drive, or flash drives
  • Slide 3Or – scary! -- saved in individual employees’ email folders that might have descriptive names – or might not. And that might still be accessible if that employee leaves – or might not.
  • Slide 4Or maybe you have that one person you have to go to when you need information --- the person who have everything stored in her head or his files. The situation where you are doomed if that person wins the lottery, gets hit by a bus, is in a bad mood, or somehow loses documents? Do you feel like it’s inefficient, going to ask the keeper of the knowledge?
  • Slide 5And worse yet---- when you’re not dealing with well-intentioned people, but instead with co-workers who don’t actually get that they are all in it together, that collaboration and sharing are good for business. Social media alone won’t fix that but an insistence on information sharing will be a start.
  • Sure, you can use Google Desktop or something similar to find stuff like staff meeting minutes on your computer or network drive. Or you can just be more efficient and organized and group-minded to begin with.
  • I’d suggest that with diminishing resources and other priorities, we just can’t fritter away our time because our documentation is scattered, disorganized, and decentralized. Whatever the metaphor, good information sharing and organization is good for a workplace.
  • Slide 4So -- Two libraries, three wikis – I’ll show some shots from 3 wikis, one that uses MediaWiki, another that uses Google Sites, and a third and our current one, that uses Wikispaces. I’ll also highlight a few additional organizations’ wikis and blogs. And I’ll show you the basics of adding content.In both library settings, my current and previous one, we spent time thinking about the platform that was best for our collaborative site and its organization and that’ IS important, but it’s not rocket science and it’s best just to get on with it if you have a need for a platform or mechanism for staff information sharing. You know that Wikipedia arranges material by topic with links to internal and external content and documents. That’s the approach we use at my library rather than some old 3-ring notebook or network folders containing contact info, procedures, and other information. I’ll start with the wiki at my former workplace, Franklin Pierce University Library in NH.
  • 5This is an example of a library staff wiki using MediaWiki, the platform for Wikipedia. We installed and maintained this on a local server but you can also use a hosted, remotely stored wiki. The primary categories we chose for organization included Depts and Teams, Projects, Library, Info, College Info, and so on. Under Library Depts and Teams, we included all of the library’s departments and committees, but let’s take the example of Serials and e-resources.
  • Here is an example of the sort of material that we put on this wiki. You would find contact info for librarians, vendors, and student assistants, approved budgets for serials, database usage statistics, our common data set, links to relevant web pages, project management, and serials procedures.Allof the blue or purple text are links to additional information, whether another page on this wiki or some external website or document.This is a good time to mention that the primary condition for success of an internal wiki is its use. If this doesn’t become the place that staff go to find answers, it isn’t vital to the organization. A quick example: when we revise procedures, have notes from a conference, offer a new service, want to share the low down on a big issue, have committee work, etc., all that info goes on the wiki so everything related to the matter is in one place and everyone on staff knows to check the wiki.Another page on this library’s wiki has to do with the university’s cafeteria.
  • This is an example of information that has practical, everyday utility. It gives the dining services hours and closed dates and also offers details about the potluck lunches that staff periodically holds. So, a wiki can help orient a new employee to a library’s culture and can be a quick source of organizational information. For example, in early December when we’d get an email from the dining services manager about hours over the semester break, we’d copy and paste that into the wiki. And then we’d post our plans for viewing Star Wars movies at lunch time during the break, too.And now on to the nuts and bolts of managing a wiki and creating content:
  • Media Wiki, like all wikis of any value, tracks your use statistics so you can see which pages get the most hits, who is actually using the wiki and what has been edited recently. [Note carpool page.]
  • Most wiki platforms offer a variety of plans depending on your needs and your budget. The Cinti Law Library uses Wikispaces so I’m showing that example: At the Free level, you would be permitted an unlimited number of users and pages and basic editing capability. At the Plus level which we have, you get a site free of ads that can be customized in terms of its look and feel. And importantly for my library, we can post more information to the wiki because we know we can limit who can actually use it and see it.
  • So our wiki is private, meaning only members of the wiki can view and edit pages. Now, a library may use a public wiki for its staff site but it would need to restrict the information to be posted. For example, if your wiki is public, you wouldn’t want to post staff members’ personal contact information or database login information.
  • All wiki platforms offer some means of managing your wiki – There is a management or administrative area forAdding members,AssigningpermissionsDesigning the wikiAnd Reviewing usage statistics
  • Now I’ll offer some examples from my library’s current wiki, hosted by Wikispaces. I don’t mean for you to be able to read all of that text; it’s simply meant to illustrate that we post a lot of content on a variety of topics to our wiki. Highlights include: notes and presentations from conferences & workshops we’ve attendedall of our procedures and vendor contact informationdirections for scanning documents and sending large files via secure file transfer, details of various projects we’re working on, common data on usage and patrons, All of the forms we use routinely in our libraryreference FAQs or background information, what we do to prep for membership renewals and our annual meeting, accounting and acquisitions procedures, and much more.
  • Here is an example of the detail on our staff site: This is a page on professional development and training available to staff and what’s allowed and how to get approved or reimbursed. It includes links to regional and national organizations and library training opportunities and comparative salary information, for example.
  • We also share information from training, workshops, and conferences we attend. If I get handouts at a program or if the presenter has a webpage related to her program, I would share that material with my colleagues via our wiki. For example, after returning from AALL this summer, I posted slides and handouts from sessions I attended. Whether the material is something that I scanned or that is available in electronic format or on the web, I can post it or link to it on our wiki.
  • Our wiki management or administrator page lets us see what pages have been edited recently and by whom and how many revisions each page has had.
  • Additionally, we can view statistics like pages with the most views per year or month, users who’ve edited the most, and other information.And now, we’ll look at how easy it is to add pages and content to a wiki – no web editing experience needed.
  • This example is onWikispaces but adding a page or content works essentially the same on any wiki. I click on New Page and enter the name of the page I want to create.
  • Then I get a blank page with an editing tool bar. I can enter my text very easily. It uses WYSIWYG editing -- what you see is what you get. Add tags for searchability as desired and I can add links or insert documents and images by clicking an icon, browsing, selecting and uploading the desired item. Click SAVE and it’s that easy.
  • Next, I tell the wiki where I want this new content to appear or if I want it to link to an external site. For example, I could just link to some website that reviews restaurants in downtown Cincinnati or I could create my own content.
  • And there it is. A link to the Dining page on the front page of our wiki.
  • This is an example of a Google Sites wiki. A mock up. Same basic functionality.
  • To add content to a wiki, you make a page and tell the wiki where to place it. In this case: Restaurants near the library
  • Then you type or copy and paste the content. On Google Sites, you can imbed links, images, and documents very easily. One note: The page doesn’t belong to one person. Someone could edit this page 10 minutes from now and add content or comment or correct my spelling.
  • Just a quick look at site activity on a Google Sites wiki. This shows recent activity, typically added pages or edits, when and by whom.Next a few wikis for organizations other than a single library”
  • And I’ll start with this listing of wikis used by library staff and in some cases in collaboration with their patrons. You can use this tool to find examples.
  • Albany County Public Library uses a staff wiki that is organized around each of its work areas like Technical and Public Services, Children’s dept, and circulation. They are using it to determine building needs in a run up to a renovation project and to share training information.
  • The U Minnesota library staff posts content to a number of wiki pages that include their departments, their projects, and teams. It also posts library-wide information related to events, copyright policies, funding issues, and so on.
  • AALL President Prof. James E. Duggan, author of Wiki of Tools for Success in Today’s Economy. James E. DugganLaw Library Director and Associate Professor of Law @ Tulane
  • Dublin School wiki is an example of committee work that was facilitated by a wiki.And next, three articles for further reading about the utility and ease of use of wikis.
  • And another one
  • Another useful article
  • A reading list regarding use of wikis for info sharing
  • If you’re pretty convinced that you’d like to start using a wiki at your library, you’ll want to choose a wiki platform. You might start by using the Wiki Choice Wizard on WikiMatrix. Enter your requirements or preferences and it gives you a list of wikis to consider, plus it explains options well.Now I’ll show you a few examples of library staff wikis besides my own.
  • And now on to an alternative: using a blog instead of a wiki for this purpose. My questions: how useful is the chronological arrangement and how granular is the blog application? The discussion was hot a couple of years ago but I would suggest that many libraries shifted their blog content to wikis or to a Ning which I’ll discuss in a momentBut I do want to give some examples that seem to work well.
  • And some sample blogs for internal communication
  • First, U Colorado Boulder Govt Publications Reference internal blog
  • Barnard Coll ref librarians
  • Wikis in the Workplace: Enhancing Collaboration and Knowledge Management

    1. 1. Cincinnati Law Library Association<br />Wikis in the Workplace: <br />Enhancing Collaboration<br />and Knowledge Management<br />Mary Jenkins, Cincinnati Law Library Association<br />ORALL Annual Meeting, October 15, 2009<br />
    2. 2. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia<br />A wiki is a website that uses wiki software, allowing the easy[1] creation and editing of any number of interlinkedWeb pages, using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor, within the browser.[2][3] Wikis are often used to create collaborativewebsites, to power community websites, for personal note taking, in corporate intranets, and in knowledge management systems.<br />
    3. 3. Outline<br /><ul><li>Reasons to use a wiki or a similar social media application
    4. 4. Examples of wikis for library staff use
    5. 5. Wiki administration
    6. 6. Adding pages and content to a wiki
    7. 7. Wiki examples: other libraries
    8. 8. Wiki examples: organizations
    9. 9. Background reading
    10. 10. Choosing a wiki application
    11. 11. Blogs as an alternative plus some examples
    12. 12. Ning and commercial collaboration & content management tools
    13. 13. Conclusion</li></li></ul><li>Where is that @#$%! file?<br />
    14. 14. I’m a librarian… <br />how can I be this disorganized?! <br />There must be<br />a better way!<br />
    15. 15.
    16. 16. I’m glad that hole was on<br />THEIR end!<br />
    17. 17.
    18. 18.
    19. 19. Maybe they’re on to something.<br />
    20. 20. This is MediaWiki.<br />
    21. 21.
    22. 22.
    23. 23.
    24. 24. wikispaces<br />
    25. 25.
    26. 26.
    27. 27. This uses Wikispaces<br />
    28. 28.
    29. 29. external<br />internal<br />various file types<br />
    30. 30.
    31. 31.
    32. 32.
    33. 33. WYSIWYG: what you see is what you get<br />
    34. 34.
    35. 35.
    36. 36. This is on<br />Google Sites<br />
    37. 37.
    38. 38. WYSIWYG: what you see is what you get<br />
    39. 39.
    40. 40.<br />
    41. 41. /<br /><br />
    42. 42.<br />
    43. 43.<br />
    44. 44.<br />
    45. 45.
    46. 46.<br />
    47. 47.<br />
    48. 48.<br />Abstract<br />This article explores how wikis can be used in library reference services to manage knowledge and why they should be used in this environment. <br />
    49. 49.<br />
    50. 50.<br />
    51. 51.<br />
    52. 52.<br />
    53. 53.<br />
    54. 54. Alternatives to wikis and blogs<br />Consider these social networking and social media integrating products:<br /><ul><li>Ning networks – easy to set up and many library staff examples
    55. 55. MS Office SharePoint
    56. 56. Open Text’s Enterprise Content Management & Communities of Practice
    57. 57. NewsGator Social Sites</li></li></ul><li><br />
    58. 58. Return on Investment? But of course!<br /><ul><li>Operating efficiencies
    59. 59. Enhanced collaboration
    60. 60. Empowerment
    61. 61. Distributed workload
    62. 62. Content & knowledge management
    63. 63. Common data set
    64. 64. Team building
    65. 65. No brain drain
    66. 66. Ease of use
    67. 67. Accessible on site or off
    68. 68. Reduced paper waste</li></li></ul><li>Cincinnati Law Library Association<br />Mary Jenkins<br />Law Librarian & Director<br />513.946.5300 <br /><br />Presentation available on Authorstream at <br />