Extending a Librarian’s Reach

A colleague of mine just told me of a very positive experience that she had in an instant messaging transaction last week. A patron had contacted her via our IM reference service and was needing to find financial ratios for hypermarkets in France. This sounded like a pretty tough business question, and unfortunately I’ve been out for the past two weeks, so I wasn’t around to offer any in-person assistance. However, my colleague searched the Biz Wiki for ratios and found where I had suggested a few resources. She wound up using Mergent Online to help the patron find what he/she needed. I was so pleased that my colleague was able to find the answer to the rather tough question by using the Biz Wiki. It really is very rewarding to see that using a wiki as a research guide continues to work, and I continue to be amazed at how patrons and colleagues are using the resource.

After my colleague helped the patron find the answer, the patron informed her that it was 11:00 where he/she was, and that it was time for bed. My colleague questioned this, as this transaction took place during normal business hours. As it turns out, the patron was studying in France this quarter, which explained the time difference. Despite the distance of time and space, the patron was able to get help with his/her information need via our IM reference service. This is yet another way that technologies are making the world a little smaller. Because my colleague was available via IM, it did not matter if the patron was in Paris (France) or Athens (Ohio). The librarian was available to help via a service that was accessible and familar to the patron.

Wiki as Online Roladex

After speaking about wikis at Computers in Libraries, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a number of people about potential uses for wikis. One idea that came out of those conversations really struck me as potentially an excellent use of a wiki. On two separate occassions, two different public librarians asked me if I thought a wiki would be good application to replace a database of local contact information. I think this is a great idea! Imagine if librarians or community members add content for county officials, doctors, libraries, schools, etc, for the community. Each wiki article for the contact or name could contain a great deal more information than just name, phone, and address. Perhaps pictures of the location of a business, or a link to Mapquest, or an in-depth description of services rendered could be included. With many wiki software clients, it is very easy to generate an A to Z list of the articles (in this case, names and contacts), and you could search this virtual roladex wiki by keyword. Contacts and names could also be placed into various categories for easy browsing, sort of like using the yellow pages. Just think of the opportunities for community outreach and community building that this type of wiki could create.

Technorati Tag: CIL 2006

Temporary (I hope) Biz Wiki Outage

As I mentioned during my presentation this morning, our library completing our website overhaul this week.   The change happened this evening some time, and it appears that the Biz Wiki is temporarily out of commission.   So, if you’re trying to get to the Biz Wiki, you may get a message that says, ” Sorry for the inconvenience, the page http://www.library.ohiou.edu/subjects/bizwiki was not found. Due to revisions of our web site the page may have moved or renamed.”

I’ll look into this further in the morning, but in the meantime, you can get to the Biz Wiki via the IP address of the old library server by following this link.   I may have to work off of the old server if things don’t get fixed by tomorrow afternoon.

Wiki World Presentation

I attended Meredith’s Wiki World presentation yesterday, and I must say that it was a good show indeed. She presented information very clearly, and I am sure that all of the 120 attendees learned a great deal about the topic. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the attendees downloaded wiki software   immediately following the presentation, or quickly ran to their systems folks shouting, “We have got to do this!” Meredith did a great job of explaining the ins and outs of wikis, and she was quite the evangelist for using wikis in a number of library settings.

For those that missed the OPAL presentation, Meredith’s notes can be found on the LibSuccess wiki, and the Playback from the presentation can be found in the OPAL archives.

The Place to Be this Thursday

You want to know about wikis? Hear it from the Wiki Woman herself, Meredith Farkas in this OPAL event:

Thursday, January 12, 2006 beginning at 3:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 2:00 Central, 1:00 Mountain, noon Pacific, and 8:00 p.m. GMT:
Wiki World: An Introduction
Wikis are democratizing the World Wide Web in a way that no other Web application has. A wiki allows a group of people to collaboratively develop website with no knowledge of HTML or other markup languages. Any member of the wiki community can add to or edit anyone else’s content, which is what makes Wikis so revolutionary and so controversial. Wikis are being used by librarians as knowledge repositories, subject guides, conference planning vehicles, and Intranets, but they could be used in any situation where quick and easy online collaboration is a goal. This session will explain what wikis are, how they could be used in libraries, and what to consider before creating one of your own. Presented by Meredith Farkas, Distance Learning Librarian at the Kreitzberg Library atNorwich University in Vermont. Meredith is the author of the blog Information Wants To Be Free and the creator and administrator of the ALA Chicago 2005 Wiki and Library Success: A Best Practices Wiki. Sponsored by the Mid-Illinois Talking Book Center.
This OPAL event will be held in the Auditorium.

I got many of my ideas about the Biz Wiki by reading Meredith’s blog. She’s full of knowledge and loves to share, so if this topic is of interest to you, join the free presentation. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

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