Earlier this week YALSA announced that it was starting a YALSA wiki and that it would be possible to apply to sponsor a section of the wiki. I am the contact person listed for getting a YALSA wiki sections started.
Interestingly, at least to me, that announcement brought me more emails from people saying they are interested in starting a wiki, than I’ve ever received for any YALSA project with which I’ve been involved. Calls for bloggers, podcasters, participants in programs, etc. have not brought so much email. (Although it’s not an overwhelming amount, it’s just more than usual/ever before.)
So, I’ve been thinking about what makes the wiki format one in which librarians working with teens feel so comfortable? What makes the wiki software something that people want to use in order to collaborate? Teen librarians aren’t the only ones who have this interest and propensity. At a meeting I went to in the fall a county administrator mentioned that he started a wiki for the county employees and to his surprise people who never showed an interest in anything technological got involved.
Here’s what I think. Wikis are relatively easy to use. You don’t need to know any special programming language. Wikis give groups an opportunity to collaborate meaningfully. The process is incredibly transparent from the entry of content to the ability to look at a wiki page’s history to see what was changed and by who. Wikis combine content building with discussion. Wiki collaborators can discuss what they are working on using the wiki software discussion pages. So, if a collaborator has an idea or question and isn’t ready to add, edit, or revise content she can discuss what needs to be discussed first.
It’s really exciting that there are so many YALSA members interested in using the new wiki. The Web Site Advisory Committee is currently working on the application that interested members will submit in order to get a wiki space setup. When that’s ready the new sections of the YALSA wiki will be added and collaborators can get to work.