Collaborative Tools for Libraries – How Can We Use Them?


Collaborative tools for libraries are quite trendy right now.  I recently read two books from the Tech Set Series: Wikis for libraries by Lauren Pressley and Effective blogging for libraries by Connie Crosby.

These books help librarians understand and implement “essential technologies and tools” to reach patrons and the general public.

Blogging initiates a conversation with the public. For example, a library could use a blog to stream upcoming programs. It could announce book releases. A readers’ advisory blog could critique popular books or DVDs to stimulate interest in the library’s collection. The patron is free to “pull” whatever information he desires, either by reading the blog directly, or receiving it via an RSS feed. This is different from, for example, mass emailing. Email is an example of information push and the patron has no choice but to receive it (whether he reads it or not is another story).

The most obvious example of a Wiki is something like Wikipedia. However, that is only one specific use of this technology. Wiki software, such as the Semantic Wiki, can be used to create web sites. A library or other organization can create a professional web presence knowing minimal HTML. Staff can easily collaborate on content; for example the YA librarians can create their own content, while the childrens’ staff can do the same. This would not eliminate the need for a professional webmaster; but she could focus on the technical issues and not have to be concerned with content.

Using software such as Drupal, both can be accomplished simultaneously.  For example, I used the Drupal software to create the South Bay Bible Fellowship web site. The blogging aspect of this software is used to add Pastor Tim’s Bible study content to the web site.  I used the wiki features to create the static web pages.

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