February 4, 2011

In one of this week’s readings, Meredith Farkas discusses the use of wikis to make library websites more participatory; she suggests using wikis to create subject guides, community bulletin boards, and catalogue records which the public can add to or annotate. I think I’ve expressed in earlier posts that I really appreciate these types of interactive functions on library websites. However, I also wonder if opening up a library’s website for public input might create some serious problems. We’ve probably all had class discussions about privacy and censorship issues – it seems to me that applying Web 2.0 functions to library websites and OPACs might reopen both these cans of worms. How do we monitor user comments on an interactive OPAC? Do we censor comments and tags that we find offensive or inappropriate? (And how do we determine what is inappropriate?) Maybe this isn’t a problem most of the time, but surely it happens occasionally… And what about the quality of information – do we “weed” links added to subject guides that we feel offer poor quality information? It seems the moderation of a big library website and OPAC could require a huge amount of time (and money), and may require making a lot of difficult decisions. And with regard to privacy, should we be asking our patrons to share so much information about what they are reading? Librarians have been strong advocates for privacy; does this represent a change we should be concerned about?

I know there are a lot of benefits that can come from the use of Web 2.0 functions by libraries. Is there a simple answer to these questions that I’m missing?

One comment

  1. I forgot to mention that I edited a couple of wikipedia pages. First, I edited the list of famous vegans here:
    I added Coretta Scott King, with a reference and a link… and then all my hard work disappeared! Someone cut out my addition just an hour or two after it was posted. (As it turned out, it was my own fault – Coretta Scott King was already on the list. The list isn’t alphabetized, so it was easy to miss.)

    Then, I edited the page about Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. I added a bit about a movie that was filmed (at my mom’s house) in Mahone Bay to the “in popular culture” section. You can check it out here:

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