Oh, how I do love a good Wiki.
I was thinking earlier about Google and how I suspect that anyone that still thinks the "Google will destroy libraries" argument holds any water is undoubtedly not involved with the real work of libraries. The truth is, we have benefitted from Google. Oh, I know, I can practically hear the tortured cries of how stupid the young folk are, now they all just use Google, but I'm standing firm with my "the kids are alright" worldview and instead would posit that all this rampant Google usage gives librarians the chance to do higher-level information analysis. This is a recurring theme for me, but I just don't buy the argument that young people are that dumb. So now they go to Google, or they go to Wikipedia and they gather information. They get a starting point. And then they get to the higher level stuff on their own or though the gracious assistance of a librarian. We have better informed users that are coming to us with more specific information requests, right out of the gate. This is a good thing. I mean--it would have been so wonderful to have Wikipedia when I was in college! Say I had the assignment to write a paper on Hegel. I would have gone to Wikipedia, read the entry on Hegel, picked out what part of his theory really interested me, and then, using the references cited at the bottom of the entry, proceeding with the research knowing what I was looking for (say, Hegel and his concept of "world spirit"). Or I would have gone to a librarian and asked for help locating print volumes on Hegel, and then would have used the index to look up "world spirit". Boom--done--walk away. And this would have resulted, frankly, in better quality papers than the stuff I was writing in college. Explain to me, again, how this is a bad thing?
Thing #10 is on Wikis. This is a fun Thing, my favorite so far. I visited the Library Success wiki which is a wiki devoted to library best practices. It hasn't been heavily populated with entries (yet). But the section alone on weeding is excellent. At the bottom it lists articles of further interest and included this fantastic blog post by ricklibrarian about the decision to weed Compassionate conservatism by Marvin Olasky. His post perfectly captures what goes through the mind of the librarian when weighing whether a book should be weeded.
Then I visited the Albany County Public Library staff wiki and liked their quick-and-dirty process for cataloging papaerbacks. And I particularly liked their work process "Checklist for Psycho Space Puppet's Departure" which I was unable to quite figure out but which delighted me all the same. Rock on, Albany!
Last, I visited the 23 Things on a Stick wiki and left a note there... Was interested in this comment: I'm experimenting with this. Wikis can be fun but how can you ever trust the "information" you find on them???? Name not left, so if it's your comment, please feel free to let me know. Now, not to harsh on anonymous poster, and also not to fall down some epistemological rabbit's hole--but--anon, how can we trust any information? Oh, I know, juried academic journals, established sources... etc. How do we know what we know? How do we trust what we know? I, for one, trust Wikipedia because for some reason people have some kind of emotional investment in the idea of "truth" which is why studies have shown that Wikipedia is just as reliable (if not more reliable) than Encyclopedia Brittanica. I'm just ruminating here, but maybe our idea of critical analysis should extend beyond just checking that a source is "reliable", i.e., objective. Because isn't that what the naysayers want and claim Wikipedia does not provide--an objective source? I'm not so sure there ARE any objective sources. Oh, I don't mean to sound so ponderous and self-important. I just think examining motive is essential, whether it be applied to an academic journal or a Wikipedia entry. And I suspect we will revisit this concept when we get to the Thing on folksonomies and tags.