BookLovers Wiki: We hardly Knew Ye!

July 24, 2007 at 9:54 am

Summer Reading Clubs are well under way at public libraries across the country, including MPOW. I have had several emails and even some phone calls inquiring about the BookLovers Wiki and why we have not updated it. I finally had time to update today, but my update was merely to announce that the BookLovers Wiki is on a hiatus for this summer. I hope we can bring it back again next summer, but that will depend on a variety of factors (some of which are out of my control).

We fully intended to revive the wiki for this summers edition of the adult reading club. In fact, we had hopes of moving it to MediaWiki so that we could fully realize our original plan of creating cross indexes to the reviews (much like the TabWiki). We wanted to categorize the reviews by genre, author, title, reviewer, etc. this year. Even if we didn’t have time to migrate to MediaWiki, we were really excited to see if the addition of WYSIWYG editing to PBwiki would boost the number of reviews submitted by the public. Last year we had a few brave individuals who learned to submit reviews directly, but most (in the end) were still emailed to us and then entered by teen volunteers or staff — many of our bibioliphiles just couldn’t seem to grasp wiki code well enough to enter reviews on their own.

The BookLovers Wiki was a success in many ways, even if it had some shortcomings. We devised our plan to use a wiki for summer reading on a fairly short time frame, but it served its purpose amazingly well. It certainly raised awareness in the community about wikis in general and what they are (many atteneded classes about wikis, so even if they didn’t feel comfortable with the code at least they understood how they worked). It was an experiment, and (as far as experiments go) it was a good one.

So, why no wiki this summer? The wiki’s furlough status was made at the same time the decision was made to upgrade our III catalog to include ratings and reviews. Essentially, we want to get our community involved with adding reviews and ratings to our online catalog and, since we went live with the upgrade on June 1st, the summer reading club was the perfect vehicle to raise awareness about our catalogs newest features.

Also, we had been doing the BookLovers theme for a few years and we wanted a change of pace for the club. This year we have gone with a theme of “Read Around the World: Your Passport to Summer Reading” and it has been a hit. We have integrated our summer programming to the theme, have generated many interesting reading lists which we are now putting on our web site and will be having a Book Brunch at the end of the summer for participants.

I really do encourage other libraries to get involved with wiki projects for their communities, whether it is for book reviews or another program/project. The staff and patrons at PPL both learned much more than we anticipated from running the BookLovers Wiki and I am sure other communities would have a similar experience. I am always willing to talk about the project with those considering a wiki, so please do not hesitate to drop me a line or give me a call.

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Precursors to the Universal Digital Library?–Maybe so. Enjoy the Smorgasborg!


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