Two potential online communities — any ideas to engage?

This morning on my stationary bike, I watched @Kyle’s lecture for Module 3. I’m grateful for the concrete examples he provided and I’m looking forward to hearing more from our guest lecturers. In another post or two I will take up his challenge to highlight some online communities that have worked well.

In this post, I’d like to talk about a couple of potential online communities in my life – one where I know the tools but not the players and another where I mostly know the players but haven’t gotten my hands on the right set of tools — if there is one.


As an employee of the Alaska Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums, (LAM) my ultimate employer and gatekeeper of my work online environment is Alaska State Government. A few years back, our State IT deployed Confluence as an enterprise-wide wiki. The wiki is behind our state firewall, so I can’t show it to you. But if you look at Confluence’s dashboard, you can get a sense of what the wiki environment looks like.

The wiki is divided into spaces for different workgroups. One see’s recent activity from all spaces when one signs in and different levels of access and be established for different pages and spaces. It is open to any State of Alaska employee. In practice, it is used mostly by State IT personnel and part of the State Library staff. I’ve also used it to deploy a staff intranet to the Division of Libraries, Archives & Museums but, only a few sections seem into using it. Except for editing potluck pages. THAT seems to get to the interest of the whole Division.

I’ve recently discovered that any wiki user can create blog posts that are visible to any other user of the wiki. I’m thinking this COULD be a way of interacting with state employees (LAM and other) on the wiki that we haven’t been able to do before. I started my blog space today and we’ll see what happens. My first two posts were about departmental liaisons and department specific library resources. Tomorrow I think I’ll start asking questions. But I have to think about those. If you’ve got ideas, especially for IT staff, beyond – what are your favorite journals/tech web sites, I’m listening.

So with the enterprise Confluence space, I feel like I have enough tools to start engaging people as I find them.


Wearing my ALA Government Documents Roundtable (GODORT), State and Local Documents Task Force (SLDTF), I coordinate the State Agency Databases Project, a librarian-led effort to locate and annotate publicly searchable databases produced by state agencies. @jsmog is the volunteer for the California page and I manage the Alaska and Arizona pages, plus the various subject pages without a specific volunteer to look after them.

ALA GODORT gave us wiki space to do our work. There are about four dozen librarians across the country working on this project. One of my initial goals back in 2007 was to create a collaborate community of documents librarians who would communicate with each other and possibly enable further projects.

It hasn’t quite worked out that way. A few years back I surveyed people on their use of online tools. At the time, it seemed like e-mail was still the most used medium. So I set up a Google Groups mailing list. Anyone can post to it, but it is mostly me with quarterly link check reminders. The wiki itself as discussion tabs, but they’re mostly unused.

It may be time to survey the group again on their use of tools, but I’m concerned that if they’re too busy to e-mail, they may just not have time to participate elsewhere. Aside from that most people keep up their pages. Over the past three years it seems like I have about 20% turnover in volunteers. That doesn’t seem to excessive for a volunteer project.

So, any ideas on how I might get a group of motivated volunteers to talk to each other? Thanks in advance for any ideas.

via MOOCing Up North

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