Loudoun library goes live with countywide wiki

Almost every county in the United States has at least one Web site to inform people about local events and services, but few have yet applied Web 2.0 technologies to that task as has the library system in Loudoun County, Va.

LoudounPedia recently went live, as reported by Municipalist, after a year of proof-of-concept development.

The original premise for the wiki was to collect in one place a “vertical file of loose end stuff” that people would come to the library’s reference desk to request, said Brett Mason, a reference librarian and the managing editor of LoudounPedia, and then let that collection expand through community contributions.

The site has a list of topic areas for contributions, such as education, day care resources, sports and recreation, health and government information. It also includes a place for local organizations and individuals to list the blogs they write.

The wiki has grown mostly by word of mouth, according to Mason, LoudounPedia’s only developer works on the site one day a week from his home. But it’s taking on a life Mason hadn’t anticipated through organizations now coming on board and taking control of their particular areas, he said.

“I’m getting to the point where I know I need to target organizations such as the local Chamber of Commerce and Loudoun Transit to utilize us,” Mason said. “So far I haven’t even approached our own [county] government yet to get it to contribute.”

LoudounPedia is starting to get noticed in academic circles and by other libraries, he said, but so far it’s a pretty lonely example of how wikis can be applied to local government. The city of Rochester’s RocWiki in New York is one of the few other such wikis.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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