The Wikipedia Library Project: what is it, how can you get involved

The Wikipedia Library Owl [Wikimedia Commons]
The Wikipedia Library [Wikimedia Commons]
For some time now I’ve been involved with the Wikipedia Library Project — you can find about more about the project on Wikipedia, naturally, but I’ll also break it down for you here.

The Wikipedia Library Project was started by an active Wikipedia, Jake Orlowitz, who wanted to solve a big problem — although those who edit Wikipedia always strive to use the best sources in their citations, they don’t always have access to those sources. Many of the most authoritative sources are published in journals that aren’t easily available to those without an affiliation to a college or university. In order to solve this problem, Jake conceived of the Wikipedia Library with the help of an Individual Engagement Grant from the Wikimedia Foundation.

The Wikipedia Library has two strands — the first, working with publishers, and the second working with libraries. In partnering with publishers, Jake and others who are active in the project have secured a number of accounts that can be issued to active Wikipedians who express interest. This part of the project has been quite successful, with many publishers are currently represented (and more in discussions, as I understand).

In partnering with libraries (the area where I’ve been active) the hope is to place Wikipedians as Wikipedia Visiting Scholars — visiting scholars will have access to research resources at that institution, including e-resources, and will be able to improve articles this way. We are also using this as an opportunity to test a script that works with the OCLC WorldCat knowledge base API to show users what resources they have full text access to.

We talked about the project at the recent ALA meeting in a session called Wikipedia and Libraries: Increasing Your Library’s Visibility — though the meeting was thinly attended, we had good audience interchange and there was a lot of interest in the project. We hope to reprise the session as a webinar in the near future so stay tuned! If you are interested in joining in the project, please do be in touch.