Wikimania 2012 – Wikipedia goes GLAM

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)

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2 Responses to “Wikimania 2012 – Wikipedia goes GLAM”

  1. Paul Constantine Says:

    See Using Wikipedia to Extend Digital Collections ( a 2007 article in D-Lib for a description of our early attempts to embed links to our digital collections (gleaned largely from the Special Collections) here at the University of Washington.

  2. Merrilee Says:

    Hi Paul, thanks for leaving a comment! (I know the blog has a lot of readers but where are you guys?) University of Washington was definitely a leader in this area and I’m sorry I didn’t mention your work (this post was covering what happened at Wikimania). There are many success stories, which I think should be encouraging to institutions who want to invest in this area. I love that you guys not only added links to your collections, but also added to the larger knowledge base by creating new articles and expanding existing articles — I think that is exactly the right mind set.

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