It surprises me to think that, before chance put me in the way to work on this project, I had never even heard of the LIS Publications Wiki. It’s been so much a part of my thoughts for the last year that I can only vaguely remember a time when I wasn’t thinking as I fell asleep each night about which heading size was the best for subheadings or how we were going to make footnoting easy for every wiki contributor. When Laurie asked me to stay on and help with the wiki after completing another project with her, I didn’t realize that the LIS Publications Wiki would significantly influence my way of thinking about library and information sciences and its practitioners in every field.
About a year ago, in the middle of a temporary lull in the gigantic project we were then working on, Laurie suggested I look at the LIS Publications Wiki. The wiki was then being hosted on the MediaWiki platform and the school was in the process of converting it over to WordPress to give it more functionality. As part of the conversion process, there would have to be a major renovation of the site: redundant pages removed, information updated and footnoted, templates built. It was going to be a huge undertaking, I thought as I looked at the pages. Do I really want to get myself into this?
How glad I am that I said yes.
Working on the wiki has opened my eyes, in ways I never imagined, to a better understanding of how the profession is essentially built on collaboration. We talk a lot about places in LIS culture—information repositories, databases, libraries, books—and sometimes overlook the people that make those places worthwhile. Whether we’re talking about someone who designs databases, curates archives, or finds picture books for toddlers, each of these professionals are making a place (both virtual and physical) a vibrant entity. And it is all done through the most egoless form of collaboration I’ve ever experienced. LIS practitioners, I’ve learned, are geniuses at not only knowing, but at understanding that they don’t always know the answers and openly soliciting opinions to find the best result possible. LIS has never been about one person; what people in this field understand better than most is that a group of people working together to find the best solution (rather than to promote their own agenda) can do anything.
As a student working on a project, there is an expectation that you will be doing a lot of the less exciting grunt work and I have listened to my fair share of audiobooks while I endlessly formatted page after page. But I also learned early on that my opinion mattered. I could see that this wiki remodel was not just the brain child of one person. It was built on the ideas of leaders in the profession, educators at the school, and even some ideas presented by the students doing the grunt work. The LIS Publications Wiki became, for me, an opportunity to see collaboration at its finest and to learn how to incorporate it in my own career.
Why should you use the LIS Publication Wiki? The wiki itself is a wealth of information and, for anyone publishing in the field, is a go-to repository for publishing information. But I hope that as you find your sources, that you will take a minute to reflect on the great act of collaboration that brought this resource to you. Maybe even take another minute to add your own contribution to this great joint effort. Because collaboration is not just a catch-phrase here; it is the foundation of all that information professionals stand for.