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Thing #16 – Wikis

November 28, 2010


By now, pretty much everyone’s heard of Wikipedia. Wikipedia (though this is only the most prominent example of a wiki) is a type of website that allows users to easily add, remove, and otherwise collaboratively edit and change content that can be quickly published to the web. There are thousands of other wikis out there, both public and private.
Some of the benefits of wikis:

All participants can add, edit or delete content.

Tracking tools within wikis allow you to easily follow what has been changed and by whom.

Earlier versions of a page can be viewed and restored if necessary.

Wikis are built on collaboration and trust – whoever contributes is expected to meet certain standards of quality and accuracy and should expect, should they not reach these standards, that another participant will edit their contributions. The goal is to use a wiki to create a collaborative piece of information, sharing the knowledge of all contributors.

Watch “Wikis in Plain English” another enjoyable video from Common Craft.


Wikis are easy to manage websites where you can work with others.  As the use of wikis has grown over the last few years, libraries all over the country have begun to use them to collaborate and share knowledge. Among their applications are pathfinder or subject guide wikis, book review wikis, ALA conference wikis and even library best practices wikis. They’re great for training manuals or documentation, or drafting policy documents, or hosting links to resources on a given topic for quick reference on the circ/ref desks.


Two options.


  1. Go to Wikipedia and search for an entry on a topic you’re interested in, or know a lot about.  Read through it – is there anything that you could add to it?
  2. Check out the history of the entry (you’ll find the history and other buttons at the top of the page).  Has it been edited a lot or a little?
  3. Do the same few people edit it, or are there lots of ‘drive by’ editors? What was it like when it was first created?
  4. Read the discussion page for the entry – are there any controversies?

–OR– the more fun option


Two 23ThingsSCPL wikis have been created for you to play with– one at PBwiki and one at Wetpaint central.

  1. Look over both of our wikis and choose one–  PBwiki or Wetpaint.
  2. Create a new page on the Wiki.
    PBwiki requires a login. Username:, password: wiki23.
    Give the page a title and add some content: words, sentences, pictures, whatever you like.  Idea– write about your favorite things.
  3. Edit a page that another user has created.


Blog about your experiences.

What did you find interesting about the wiki concept?
How might a library use a wiki with staff and/or patrons?
Many teachers “ban” Wikipedia as a source for student research. What do you think of the practice of limiting information by format?

Name this blog post Thing #16.


Take a look at some other wikis.

Here are some library-related wikis to get you started.

Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust Wiki – a wiki based on the Book Lust books (OOPS! This wiki seems to be down right now. We’ll keep the link just in case it becomes active again!)
Book Lovers Wiki – developed by the Princeton Public Library
Library Success: A best practices wiki – a one-stop shop for great ideas and information for all types of librarians
Other library wiki examples

And some non-library examples:

Wiktionary (a wiki dictionary)
WikihowMusic Wiki
Grey’s Anatomy Wiki
WikiIndex – a wiki guide to wikis

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