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.
Merrilee Proffitt is Senior Manager andprovides project management skills and expert support to institutions within the OCLC Research Library Partnership.