Archive for July, 2012

Wikimania 2012 — mind the gap

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012 by Merrilee

This is the third in a series of posting on my first Wikimania. I’m (mostly) focusing on the connection between Wikipedia and libraries, and approaching topics thematically, rather than going through the conference in order.

Mind the [gender] gap
The Wikipedia community has been paying a lot of attention to the “gender gap” which was revealed in a study by University of Minnesota researchers last year. Therefore I was surprised to see so many women attending Wikimania — I don’t have official numbers, but I would say perhaps woman accounted for 1/3 of attendees. The conference programming reflected the concern about the gap (“how can you represent the sum of all knowledge if you don’t involve the sum of all people?”). The opening keynote was delivered by Mary Gardiner from the Ada Initiative, who focussed on ways to increase and encourage diversity in communities (my takeaway from this session — when someone is trying to give you advice on how to improve, “stop being defensive; shut up and listen.”). Both Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner wove the issue of gender diversity into their remarks. The Wikimedia Foundation is investing in addressing the gender gap, and an outcome of this is the Teahouse project, which offers peer support for new editors and is particularly aimed at being welcoming to women. There was also a Wiki Women’s lunch, which was attended by more than 120 women (Sue Gardner remarked that at her first Wikimania in 2007, the number was more like six).

WikiWomen's Lunch

WikiWomen’s Lunch

Interestingly the gender gap is not entirely a “wiki” or technology problem; I attended a session on wikiHow (a for profit company in which content is contributed by volunteers) which has a high percentage of female contributors — in fact, in wikiHow, the majority of editors are women. In that session, the presenter said that wikiHow’s friendly culture was established early on by the (male) company founder, who paid attention to and emphasized niceness in communications. She also said that Wikipedians have a reputation for being “mean online and nice in person.” Indeed, one of the major goals of the Wikimedia foundation is to improving editor retention and increasing participation across all Wikimedia projects, and I could see this emphasis echoed in presentations on a number of projects that encourage kindness (and also help simplify things for newcomers).

Wikimania 2012 – Wikipedia goes GLAM

Monday, July 30th, 2012 by Merrilee

This is the second in a series of posting on my first Wikimania. I’m (mostly) focusing on the connection between Wikipedia and libraries, and approaching topics thematically, rather than going through the conference in order.

Wikipedia goes GLAM
I’ve been attracted to Wikipedia primary because of a set of recent GLAM outreach efforts (GLAM stands for Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). This GLAM collaboration emphasis was clear at Wikimania, which featured an entire track devoted to GLAMs and GLAMerous topics. (There was also a whole track on open government; I’m sorry I wasn’t able to attend any of those sessions).

I attended a session on National GLAM coordinators. Many countries have adopted a model of having a person to help coordinate GLAM activities — this panel discussion included representatives from Germany, Sweden, US, France, Australia, UK, India, Israel. Interestingly, not all of the people on this panel (maybe only half?) fill this position in an official capacity, reflecting how much variety there is in how various national chapters of Wikipedia choose to operate.

GLAM coordinators panel

GLAM coordinators panel

There were also a number of “GLAM professional” — that is, librarians, archivists, and museum curators — presenting about their experiences working with Wikipedians. These were all very positive sessions. Pam Wright from NARA presented on NARA’s efforts to make their collections as accessible as possible (an agency that has embraced the principle, “who you are is defined by who you are online”). Sara Snyder from the Archives of American Art gave a talk titled “5 Reasons Why Archives are an Untapped Goldmine for Wikimedians” (the number one reason Wikipedians should want to work with archives? Archivists! They want to share information and help people); and Dominic McDevitt-Parks gave a presentation on how NARA is leveraging Wikisource to get volunteers to transcribed documents (check it out — it’s brilliant). Wikisource is attractive because asking for help with transcription is a relatively easy task for volunteers whereas writing encyclopedia articles is not so straightforward.

Wikipedian in Residence Dominic McDevitt-Parks shows his NARA spirit

Wikipedian in Residence Dominic McDevitt-Parks shows his NARA spirit

There was also a presentation about an in-the-works GLAM toolset which is being developed to help institutions more easily upload files to the Wikimedia Commons (right now this is pretty painful, and doesn’t scale to bulk uploads). But it’s not just getting images and other files uploaded, it’s also metadata wrangling that needs to be easier. And in addition to uploading and mapping metadata, tools for analytics to show how much files are being accessed and used — I can imagine that analytics will be important for motivating cultural heritage organizations to get involved.

On Thursday night there was a “GLAM Night Out” at the Newseum (OCLC was a sponsor). At the event, the formation of GLAM-Wiki US Consortium was annouced. The defining goal of the Consortium is to bring GLAM professionals together with Wikipedians to work and together more efficiently. You can read through this one-page overview of the Consortium’s broad goals and sign up to get involved. I am going to be participating in this group actively, and will blog about it as things get moving.

GLAM Night out at the Newseum

GLAM Night out at the Newseum

The closing plenary was given by the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero. As previously mentioned, NARA is quite invested in Wikipedia, and David quipped (to the joy of the crowd) “If Wikipedia is good enough for the Archivist of the United States, it should be good enough for you.” The love went both ways — during the talk, the Twitter backchannel was full of appreciative observations about David, including admiration for his seersucker suit. Shortly after his talk, an image of David (uploaded to the Wikimedia commons) was added as an illustration to the Wikipedia article on “Seersucker”. (David blogged about his talk on the AOTUS Blog)

Wikimania 2012 – Wikipedia Loves Libraries Workshop

Friday, July 27th, 2012 by Merrilee

In a previous post, I explained that I was both excited and nervous at the prospect of attending my first Wikimania. It turned out to be an amazing experience, and I had nothing to dread. There’s been a lot going through my mind since the conference, but I’ll try to sum up some of my experiences here before it goes entirely out of my head! I’m also going split this up into a number of blog posts grouped by theme because I was developing a truly monstrous post. So this will be the first in a short series.

My Wikimania started with a 4 hour workshop that Max and I had organized (nothing like jumping in with both feet!). We invited Wikimania attendees and local librarians to come to a session called Wikipedia Loves Libraries where we looked at models of collaboration between the Wikipedia community and librarians, highlighing Wikipedian in Residence programs and edit-a-thons, hearing from both “cultural heritage professionals” (as Wikipedians like to call us) and also from Wikipedians.

During the discussion session, we had a chance to hear about a number of Wikipedia’s “sister projects”:

  • Wikisource: a wiki ‚Äúdigital library‚ÄĚ of public domain materials. Institutions can contribute documents and invite the volunteers to transcribe the documents!
  • QRpedia, targeted at information retrieval from mobile devices. It uses QR codes to show Wikipedia articles to people. Taking advantage of Wikipedia‚Äôs multilingual content, the articles are cleverly shown in the user’s own language (because your phone already knows what language you prefer).
  • The GLAM Toolset that is being developed in conjunction with Europeana for the Wikimedia Commons.
  • Wikidata, which is an ambitious project to centralize reference data for use in all languages of the Wikimedia projects. There is an obvious place, I think, for library authority data in Wikdata, so I encourage you all to watch this project!

Karen Weiss speaks to a packed crowd at Wikipedia Loves Libraries

Thanks to our presenters, Q Miceli, Karen Weiss, Richard Knipel and Bob Kosovsky, and to the George Washington University Libraries for hosting us. Thanks also to the 75 attendees — we seemed to be evenly split between librarians and Wikipedians, which was a terrific thing.

Scan and Deliver… on Wikipedia!

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012 by Jennifer

I just learned from Max – our Wikipedian in Residence – that NARA (the US National Archives) is postings scans of archives on request and putting them up on Wikipedia. This pilot project is my new favorite creative experiment to maximize access to archives. The project page includes links to digitized images, with crowd-sourced transcriptions. Check out the example of a George Washington letter posted and transcribed. There’s a list of scans NARA has posted and the queue of requests.

What a creative experiment delivering digital images! I wish I known about it when Dennis and I were chatting on YouTube about scanning and photography in special collections.

Public libraries in the digital age

Thursday, July 19th, 2012 by Ricky

There is not often much in these posts about public libraries, but there are frequently posts about digital libraries. I admit to thinking there’s not all that much overlap between the two. Public libraries are ready to change that.

Last November a group of public library leaders met to begin to address the future of public libraries as information is increasingly digital. There was much discussion about the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) and the role of public libraries in that endeavor — as well as the possible impact of DPLA on public library usage and funding. It was agreed that this was not a time to sit back and see what happens. If public libraries don’t serve the content the users want in the forms they want to consume it, their future is grim.

A new report, America’s Digital Future: Advancing a shared strategy for digital public libraries, summarizes the themes from the meeting and lays out an action plan for moving forward.

There can be no true Digital Public Library of America without the participation of public libraries. Public libraries are eager to digitize their unique materials and make them locally available as well as contribute them to DPLA. Perhaps a more burning issue is to ensure that public libraries can provide current commercial publications, including e-books, to their users. They cannot rely on the marketplace to represent public interests; this will require a national, concerted voice to negotiate with publishers and to minimize the digital divide.

This part of the public library action plan is being further pursued in an IMLS-funded project to develop an e-book strategy that will ensure that Americans continue to have access to commercially produced content through their local public libraries, even as formats change.

While OCLC’s constituency includes all libraries, the OCLC Research Library Partnership focuses on research libraries. These issues, though, are fundamental to all libraries and library users and I am pleased to have been involved in the public library meeting and report and in the forthcoming work on e-book lending.

Wikimania, the video(s)

Monday, July 16th, 2012 by Merrilee

I’m going to write a longer summary soon, but I thought I would share these videos that Max and I did at Wikimania. In the videos, we reflect on the event at “halftime” (on Friday) at at the close of the event (Sunday).

A Librarian in Wikiland

Friday, July 6th, 2012 by Merrilee

Jennifer Weintraub from UCLA’s Digital Library program recently advised me to get out of my comfort zone and attend a conference that’s off my beaten path. Next week, I’ll be doing just that. I’ll be heading to Washington, DC and attending Wikimania. Not only is this not a library or archives conference, but it’s a conference with the word “mania” in it. And I’m feeling a little manic, realizing I’ll be on terra incognita.

Fortunately, over the the many months I spent exploring connections between libraries and Wikipedia, I at least know I’ll see a few friendly faces. Phoebe Ayers a librarian from UC Davis (and just now cycling off of the Wikimedia Foundation’s Board of Trustees) was one the first people to come to my aide. Shortly after that I made contact with the fabulous Sarah Stierch, who was then a Wikipedian in Residence at the Archives of American Art. Sarah put me in touch with Pete Forsyth, who has been active in Wikipedia’s Public Policy Initiative. When I attended the two Women’s Wiki Ediathons at the Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco, I met a whole host of other Wikipedians, who have all been both welcoming and inspiring. Along the way I’ve been in touch with some folks who have been incredibility helpful and generous with their time online and on the phone, and I’m looking forward to meeting them in person — two of these people are Lori Byrd Phillips, who has been a real driver in GLAM-wiki initiatives, and Dominic McDevitt-Parks, who has been the Wikipedian in Residence at NARA.

I’ve been able to do something at Wikimania that I find it hard to imagine doing in the library or archive world as a first time attendee — I put together (with Max’s help and with thanks to colleagues at George Washington University for hosting!) a half day workshop to build on ideas for connecting libraries and other cultural institutions to Wikipedia. The event is at capacity, with a mix of library and wiki folks so I know good things are going to happen. Stay tuned, I’ll report on what happens.

I’m also excited about the program, particularly sessions on Wikidata, which I think holds a lot of promise for library data (particularly linked library data).

So, wish me luck as I take a walk on the wild side (or the Wiki side). The next chapter is coming soon.

Libraries Rebound – A Personal Partial Recap

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012 by Jim

In the three earlier posts Merrilee did a great job of summarizing the content of the three different themes ‚Äď directly supporting researchers, special collections and institutional mission and space as a distinctive asset. The important things to take away were captured in those posts which reflect the attendees highlights as captured in the twitter stream (which has increasingly become the record of conference events).

For those who want a short list of action items from the conference here are mine:

Examine the full research life cycle for one or more disciplines at your institution to identify gaps and pain points where the library could be a continuing source of support. (See the DeBelder slides .pptx

Consider assessing special collections via a task force composed of individuals external to the department to look for alignment with university strategy. (See the Pyatt slides .pptx)

Create a long-term library space plan even if you don’t have current funding or immediate renovation opportunity. (See the Pritchard .pptx and Group4 .pptx slides)

For me the best frame for the event was provided by something taken from a presentation by Wendy Lougee (discussed in an earlier post) in which she characterized future library services as built around local priorities (cf. research support), local infrastructure (space and buildings) and unique institutional assets (special collections). Mixed together thoughtfully these three would result in a portfolio of distinctive services. Read the rest of this entry »