December 2, 2008

Karolien Selhorst – Online Information Presentation

Setting Up a Tool for Knowledge Sharing in a Public Library
December 2, 2008

works on knowledge management at the Public Library of Vlissingen in the Netherlands
the Library also provide service for the local hospital and have opened services in elementary schools
they want to be a two-way library where their users are, adapted to the needs and wishes of their users
digital library is becoming more important because fewer people are coming in for books

have to share knowledge efficiently, making use of hidden staff talent
did a “knowledge scan”
found that the intranet wasn’t meeting staff needs
their wiki is internal only because they want to excel internally before they might open it up for users

six steps to implementing a wiki
1 – planning the wiki
actually the most important phase of all
many important questions need to be answered, including is your internal culture ready for something like this
are people stimulated to share their knowledge or are they prevented from sharing it?
what do you want to get out of it?
which users do you want to contribute to it? what will the scope be?
they decided to involve all of their users because sharing knowledge is important to everyone
early involvement of future users is important – involve them as soon as possible
also gets you feedback
use to find appropriate software for your project
decide hosted vs on your own server
they started out on their own server but went to a hosted service when they realized they didn’t have the in-house technical knowledge they needed

2 – designing the wiki
used an external visual designer to make the wiki use their current brand (he happened to be the son of a staff member)
created the initial structure of the wiki but let it grow organically
seeded it with initial content (no “empty box”)
created documentation and policy rules for the wiki (“wikiquette”) but don’t focus on the rules
created a sandbox area where people could experiment and play without feeling like they could mess things up

3 – Testing the wiki
used early adopters who were already familiar with wikis
test basic functions, proofreading initial content, test links and wiki usability
let future users test the wiki

4 – Launching the wiki and training users
found it important to do this officially so need to communicate it to everyone in an official way
have lots of “communication moments”
tell people what the wiki can do for them and integrate it into daily work practices
pay more attention to “slow adopters”
create a good handbook

5 – Managing & maintaining the wiki
appointed a “wiki gardener” to be responsible for moderating discussions, reviewing content, reviewing wiki structure to makke content easily accessible by everyone
important distinction that she has no effect on actual content – she isn’t a “wiki dictator”
technical support is maintained by the hosting company in their case

6 – Wiki evaluation
they’re in this stage now
using statistics and user surveys

showed a screenshot – it’s simple because it’s focused on the content
“teams & clusters”

they are now developing new software that will complement the wiki by handling reference inquiries from the public
answering questions will become based on team expertise, not individuals
this is a revolutionary new way of working in a Dutch public library
they will see the first demo of the system next week, so just in the initial phase

wiki lessons learned (practical tips)
– the success of a wiki depends on user contribution and enthusiasm
– involve your end-users from the beginning
– reward people for contributing to the wiki, acknowledge experts who share
– a wiki complements, but does not replace, face-to-face sharing; it’s not about the technology or the tool, but the people
– seed the wiki
– integrate the wiki in daily working practices

q: which software did you use?
a: moin moin was their first choice, but installing and configuring it required more technical skills than they had, so they moved to Plone; users don’t need any technical knowledge

q: was the goal to replace or complement the intranet? and can you give examples of making the wiki practical for staff when explaining it?
a: the Library has different geographical locations, so it can be difficult for teams to meet physically, so they are also implementing a chat function within the wiki

7:46 am Comments (6)


  1. Hi, its ~ the link above has a .com address.

    Thanks for this post on wiki’s!!

    Art Spanjer
    Houston Baptist University
    Asst. Professor/ Librarian: website/e-journals

    Comment by Art Spanjer — December 2, 2008 @ 11:20 am

  2. Hi Jenny,

    Thanks for writing about me. I also liked your presentation. I will contact you very soon for my new magazine!


    Comment by Karolien — December 3, 2008 @ 3:07 pm

  3. How relevant do you think this post might be for a technical college library?
    Do you know of a better place for me to learn about wikis for technical colleges?

    Comment by Jeff Siemers — December 5, 2008 @ 10:36 am

  4. @Art: Thanks for the heads up on the URL – it’s fixed now.

    @Karolien: It was great to see you again!

    @Jeff: I think this post is a good starting point for you, but you can also look for further resources at

    Comment by jenny — December 7, 2008 @ 9:04 am

  5. The biggest challenge I have found when working with Wikis is how to get everyone to use the wiki (meaning staff especially) half the time these resources end up stagnating. Is there a plan to keep this from happening?

    Comment by CHris — December 9, 2008 @ 12:28 pm

  6. Wiki is an indispensable tool

    Comment by Linda — December 14, 2008 @ 2:15 pm

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