Librarians & Wikipedia


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Short presentation given at the 30th Charleston Acquisitions Conference, Charleston SC. Presents an overview of Wikipedia & the Wikimedia Foundation, and suggests ways libraries & librarians can help.

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  • I am a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation, and this is our vision statement: Wikipedia is an education project, that seeks to serve the whole world.
  • Projects are in 273 languages; over 96 of which have more than 10K articles
  • 371 million people use wikipedia every month from all over the world. The dark areas show that at least 16% of all internet users use Wikipedia, making it by far the most highly used reference source.
  • Wikipedia is run by the Wikimedia foundation, which is a non-profit foundation; we also run 8 other wiki projects: Wikibooks, Wiktionary, Wikiversity, WikiSource, Wikinews, Wikiquote, Wikispecies, and the Wikimedia Commons.
  • “community curated work” is a term coined by Brianna Laugher to represent the idea of lots of people coming together to curate a reference work.
  • This is a real-life reference question I received on our reference desk: can you tell me more about the history and chemistry of saltpeter?
  • I found a great article for her – which I subsequently linked in Wikipedia
  • Every time you see an article tagged that it is lacking sources, or a citation needed tag – it’s an invitation to participate.
  • Educating our user communities – who are certainly already using wikipedia – is important. This is the “Cite this page” link which appears on every article.
  • Wikipedians take fact-checking seriously; Wikipedia is a work in progress. This is an effort to systematically check chemical data against the literature to make sure it is accurate.
  • Collaboration can happen on a large scale as well. This is a partnership that was begun in 2008 between the Bundesarchiv, the German Federal Archives, and Wikimedia; the archives donated 80,000 files to Wikimedia commons, including historic images.
  • Liam Wyatt was this summer a “Wikipedian in Residence” at the British Museum; he designed the project to help the museum curators partner with Wikimedians to share their knowledge on Wikipedia. Cultural institutions tend to think of the risks of participating online, but not the unexpected rewards: greater visibility, enhanced data, a community of volunteers.
  • There is in a few weeks a conference at the British Museum followed by an event in Paris about partnerships between Wikipedia and “GLAMs”: Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums.
  • So, as librarians we invite you to join the wikimedia community: be bold in editing.
  • Thank you.
  • Librarians & Wikipedia

    1. 1. Wikimedia’s vision Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. That's our commitment.
    2. 2. 15 million articles… • Free • Volunteer-written • Supported by readers • Neutral, encyclopedic, factual, non-original • No top down editorial control: • Community curated work
    3. 3. reference librarians and Wikipedia
    4. 4. adding references
    5. 5. user education
    6. 6. reference projects
    7. 7. archive & collection partnerships
    8. 8. Unexpected risks are accounted for, unexpected rewards are discounted. – Liam Wyatt (2010 British Museum “Wikipedian-in-Residence”)
    9. 9. Tapei, Taiwan: Wikimania 2007 Be Bold
    10. 10. Phoebe Ayers Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees UC Davis Libraries
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