Wikipedia:The Wikipedia Library/Newsletter/December2013

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Books & Bytes

Eurasian Eagle-Owl Maurice van Bruggen.JPG

Volume 1, Issue 3

December/January 2013

by The Interior (talk · contribs), Ocaasi (talk · contribs)

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Happy New Year, and welcome to a special double issue of Books & Bytes. We've included a retrospective on the changes and progress TWL has seen over the last year, the results of the survey TWL participants completed in December, some of our plans for the future, a second interview with a Wiki Love Libraries coordinator, and more. Here's to 2014 being a year of expansion and innovation for TWL!

The Big Picture: Many months of progress[edit]

The Wikipedia Library completed the first 6 months of its Individual Engagement grant last week. It's all in the final report. Here's where we are and what we've done:

  • Increased access to sources: 1500 editors signed up for 3700 free accounts, individually worth over $500,000, with usage increases of those references between 400-600%
  • Deep networking: Built relationships with Credo, HighBeam, Questia, JSTOR, Cochrane, LexisNexis, EBSCO, New York Times, and OCLC
  • New pilot projects: Started the Wikipedia Visiting Scholar project to empower university-affiliated Wikipedia researchers
  • Developed community: Created portal connecting 250 newsletter recipients, 30 library members, 3 volunteer coordinators, and 2 part-time contractors
  • Tech scoped: Spec'd out a reference tool for linking to full-text sources and established a basis for OAuth integration
  • Broad outreach: Wrote a feature article for Library Journal's The Digital Shift; presenting at the American Library Association annual meeting

Grant renewal: 6 more months of growth[edit]

In the past 6 months of our Individual Engagement Grant, we laid the foundation for The Wikipedia Library's future growth and expansion. We built a team of volunteers and a hub for connecting the Wikipedia community to the library and its research access opportunities, and have laid the groundwork for partnerships with many key research databases and university libraries. We also produced a code specification for a reference tool script we are developing which will place links to full-text sources next to references in Wikipedia articles. There is so much more we can do. A six month renewal of the Individual Engagement Grant is needed in order to support the Library's growing potential. This renewal has been requested and is now under review by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Phase 2 aims[edit]

Phase 2 of our proposed grant involves expansion of existing successful programs, integration of volunteers, creation of usable deployed reference tech tools, deeper outreach, and new experiments.

  • Move from existing pilots to robust programs: Research Donations, Visiting scholars
  • More donation partners and more accounts: Expand the number of partners we approach and relationships we build
  • Technical infrastructure : Full text reference tool--alpha implementation and promotion, OAuth spec for integrated account management
  • Regularize metrics: regular database link dumps for partners, consolidate into pamphlets and wikipages designed for promotion
  • Community organizing: develop the portal further, investigate ways to surface recent activity, highlight calls to action and ways to get involved
  • More hands: define and fill more roles for volunteer coordinators
  • Outreach; Promote TWL broadly outside of Wikipedia, especially to library professionals
  • Go global: pilot with at least 1 other language of Wikipedia (German, Spanish, Arabic...), deliver Cochrane Library in Spanish, host a Non-US Visiting scholar, identify sources to address systemic bias
  • New pilots: Open Access Signaling, Open Access button integration?, Research Desk...

Survey results[edit]

We mass messaged a Qualtrics survey[1] to all of the editors who had signed up for a free account before October 2013. This was 2000 editors, many of them our top content contributors. The survey started on Dec 9 and we analyzed responses through Dec 17. 254 started the survey and 197 completed it. All of the questions were optional.


Most survey recipients were Satisfied with The Wikipedia Library's concept, activities, and direction.

Wikipedia Library Survey, How satisfied are you with The Wikipedia Library?

Goals & Activities[edit]


Editors rated and ranked our 5 goals. Here's what they care about most (on a 1-5 scale, 5 being most important):

Wikipedia Library Survey, Which TWL goals are most important to you?

Priorities (mean score, 1 to 5)

  1. 4.52 - Partner to provide free access to paywalled publications, databases, universities, and libraries
  2. 4.14 - Facilitate research for Wikipedians, helping editors to find and use sources
  3. 3.64 - Promote broader open access in publishing and research
  4. 3.26 - Connect editors with their local library and freely accessible resources
  5. 3.10 - Build relationships among our community of editors, libraries, and librarians


Editors rated 13 areas of ongoing and potential activity. The most desired activities are more paywalled source access, by far.

Wikipedia Library Survey, What TWL activities are most important to you?

Participation in TWL

Editors shared how involved they had been in TWL activities and project spaces. The greatest number of editors had received accounts and signed up for the newsletter. Notably, several editors who were surveyed hadn't heard of TWL before or visited any of its pages, suggesting that further community promotion is needed. Also, a relatively small number of editors created profiles at the library portal. A potential phase 2 goal would be to make that portal more interactive and give editors more motivation to engage there.

Wikipedia Library Survey, Which TWL activities have you participated in?


Editors gave quantitative estimates of the number of references that they added with the available sources.

Wikipedia Library Survey, Which sources from TWL have you used and how often?

Requested Sources

Editors, simply, crave more sources. Would they like to receive more free access?

Wikipedia Library Survey, Would you like to receive free access in the future?

We asked specifically which sources editors wanted. The results: JSTOR, JSTOR, JSTOR, HighBeam, Lexis Nexis, ProQuest, NYTimes, EBSCO, Wiley, Springer, Oxford... Read the full list below.

Qualitative feedback[edit]

As the wordclouds below suggest, the overwhelming response to TWL was positive, and the clarion call across the board was for more access to more sources. This is somewhat expected since we primarily surveyed editors who had previously signed up for accounts, rather than a broader cross-section of the community. Editors seem laser focused on content creation and are interested in sources to achieve that, then support to accomplish it, then more open access to enable it broadly, and only then connections with libraries and librarians.

This could be taken either way: Our editors clearly want sources, on the one hand. On the other hand, perhaps this identifies a niche role for TWL to expand, since it perhaps zeroes in on an area were, since no one else is doing it, we should fill that role.

All Access[edit]

Overwhelming positive sentiment was about access given, and overwhelming area for improvement was more access.


Editors valued TWLs potential to improve verifiability for both readers and editors, all of which would give more credence to Wikipedia's reliability. The other side of this coin was a nagging regret that most of the paywalled source access would not be easily or cheaply verifiable to those without accounts. (TWL's position has been Wikipedia's policy: We advocate for open access but we facilitate research in the best available sources, open or closed, in the interest of creating a better encyclopedia as the first priority).

Signup, login, and integration[edit]

Editors wanted easier signups, tighter integration with logins and passwords, more permanent access for top editors, and other management and technical improvements.

Global diversity[edit]

Several found TWL ripe for expansion into non-English languages and other underrepresented areas of systemic bias.

Library outreach[edit]

A vocal minority wanted stronger and deeper connections with our partner, community, university, and local libraries and librarians.


Many editors wanted to know more about The Wikipedia Library, to see it better promoted within the community, especially opportunities for signup opportunities.

Community organizing[edit]

Most were quite pleased with the community and project facilitation thus far and heartily encouraged further expansion in the direction TWL has been heading. A sense of possibility and eagerness filled many comments, as well as a yearning for a stronger sense of community around the library and our research efforts.

Wikipedia Library Highlights[edit]

  • Account coordinators: TWL is grateful to have two Wikipedians helping out with accounts dispersal. Nikkimaria will be vetting and awarding HighBeam and Credo accounts, and ChrisGualtieri will handle Questia account requests. Thanks to both for joining the TWL team. As a result of the above, backlogs of applications at HighBeam and Questia have been cleared!
  • New donor relationships:Although we have no new partnerships to announce this month, we are in discussions with several database providers about some exciting prospective donations for 2014, including EBSCO, ProQuest, New York Times, and LexisNexis. Talks are ongoing with JSTOR to extend and expand that program.
  • Available accounts: Free accounts are still available with HighBeam, Questia, and Cochrane. Please spread the world to any colleagues who might not have heard about the opportunities.
  • Metrics! TWL also welcomes Johnuniq as our metrics coordinator; he has already done much valuable metrics work for TWL in the past.
  • Survey: A big thanks to those who completed our survey last month. This data is valuable not only for guiding the future of TWL, but also to potential new partners who want to know more about TWL and what our editors want in terms of database access. Take a look at the results here
  • Grant report: TWL Coordinator Ocaasi has submitted his final report for the Individual Engagement Grant which funded TWL for 2013. You can read it on Meta here. To help TWL expand in 2014, an extension request has been submitted. Please feel free to add comments and feedback in the bottom section.
  • Wikipedia Visiting Scholars: There are currently 2 Wikipedia Visiting Scholar positions open (George Mason University, University of California Riverside). These are lightweight Wikipedian-in-Residence-like positions, but they're remote, unpaid, and the whole point is to get you library catalogue access so you can write articles. Please signup, and more positions are in development.

Excitement upcoming[edit]

  • ALA midwinter meeting: We're presenting at the world's largest Library Association alongside the world's largest library cooperative, with planned attendance from several of the top librarians at the top universities in the world. We'll be discussing the Wikipedia Visiting Scholar program, an initiative like Wikipedian-in-Residence but more focused on library access and article writing. (Editors can signup to be a Visiting Scholar now, and more partnerships are being developed.
  • Library Journal/TheDigitalShift article: We're approved to run a feature article in two of the leading library and library tech publications in the world. We will run this online and hopefully in print as well between Dec-Feb.
  • Partner call blitz: We have 20 top contacts prioritized by editor interest. In January Pat and Jake are hosting an outreach drive, contacting each of the top partners our editors have expressed a desire for.
  • New metrics: We will have demonstated impact with Cochrane, Questia, and JSTOR, giving us new numbers to validate the impact of our donation partnerships.

Spotlight on people: I JethroBT and Wiki Loves Libraries[edit]

Meetup at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library

I JethroBT has been editing en.wp since 2006. In October, he, along with Keilana, organized an edit-a-thon at the Pritzker Military Museum & Library in Chicago, Illinois. This was I JethroBT’s first event, and he was kind enough to share his experiences with Books and Bytes. Excerpts from our interview follow.

How did you initially get in touch with the library?

Keilana, another Chicago-area Wikipedian, heard that I was interested in doing some outreach with Wikipedia, or maybe organizing an event in a local library. She was already planning on contacting Pritzker, and I asked if could come along. We met with the head librarian, Teri Embrey, and had a great initial conversation about a potential GLAM partnership. I pitched an idea for an edit-a-thon as well, and they were receptive to both ideas. They have an impressive collection, but don’t have great exposure to the public.

Did the library staff have any reservations about your proposal?

They were a little hesitant about what the expectations might be, and also about working with volunteers. They were expecting some sort of endorsement or partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation, something official. We had to explain that this wasn’t the WMF’s role, and that these partnerships usually begin from informal contact with volunteers. To meet their desire for some documentation, I prepared a memorandum of understanding (M.O.U.), outlining what we would provide, and what we would expect from the library. We agreed to train one of their interns on how to navigate Wikipedia and upload images and documents. We would also assist in making and uploading content relating to the library’s holdings ourselves. A lot of our work was on artists, as well as working with the library’s collection of 20th century war posters and documents. We offered ourselves as general resources for the library staff to use when dealing with Wikimedia projects.

In return, we asked that the library release some of its images under a Creative Commons free license of a sufficiently high resolution that they could be used for a variety of uses. The library was leery of releasing full resolution versions under such a license, so we agreed on a medium resolution. Some colleagues advised pushing hard for high-resolution versions, but I felt compromising on this was in the interests of a good, long-term relationship with the institution.

How did you structure the edit-a-thon?

An image uploaded at the event

As military history is the focus of the collection, I wanted to make that a theme of the event. I didn’t have a lot of experience working with MilHist articles, and I was aware that this is one of the better-covered areas of Wikipedia. But I recognized that there are still holes and biases in our coverage, and Pritzker has an excellent collection on women in wartime. I noticed that some of the library’s exhibits were on people or topics not well covered on WP. So I wanted this to be a focus of the meetup.

But when the event was actually happening, I told participants that while we encourage them to work on topics related to women in wartime, they weren’t obligated to do so. If there was something else that interested them, say topics related to Chicago, they should work on that. My main emphasis was that we were here in a specialized library with access to resources not available otherwise, and that we should make the most of them while we were there.

How much content resulted from the edit-a-thon? As you can see from the project page, the edit-a-thon resulted in three new articles: The Sacred Twenty, Jeanne Vertefeuille and Anna Baetjer (which went to DYK). We added content to a few existing articles. Luckily, a few participants were excited about images, so we were able to upload a nice collection from the library’s image repository.

What was the attendance for the event?

We had about ten people attending. We also had a local reporter show up – this was surprising since we hadn’t contacted any press! She had a lot of interesting questions about Wikipedia in general, and Keilana and I were able to illuminate some aspects of the project. She registered an account and did some editing.

One thing I noticed after the event is that it was quite easy to get new people registered and started with editing, it’s another thing to get them contributing afterwards.

An aspect I was very happy with was the connection made by existing editors who hadn’t interacted before as a result of the meetup. While I realize that social connections are secondary to the goal of creating an encyclopedia, I think that relationships between colleagues are really important, and real-life meetups can create bonds between editors. It can keep people emotionally invested in the projects.

Is there something you would do differently next time, or anything you would avoid when setting up another event?


I prepared a very basic survey for feedback after the event, and I did feel I should have constructed this better to get more concrete data about how it went. It would have been nice to put together a proper program evaluation for others to use, and to share ideas that worked.

Prior to the event, I had difficulty finding good resources on best practices when forming a partnership like this. Sarah Stierch pointed me to some useful pages, but it would be nice to have a detailed guide for event organizers. I was worried when preparing the M.O.U. about what sort of responsibilities I was getting myself into.

What could libraries do to make these events more successful?

One thing that could have benefited our event is more publicity. This would bring in more non-Wikipedian participants. I had hoped the library would reach out to its patrons a bit more, and really engage with some of their own community about the idea. There was also a scheduling conflict where many of the library’s volunteer staff were gone at another event, so weren’t able to take part. It would have been great to work with those people as well.

The library did generously provide everyone with free food, which was wonderful. They catered a lunch for us, which probably helped get more participation. Librarians also helped us locate materials and navigate the holdings. We also were given a free tour of the library’s special collections, and we were able to spend some time with Pritzker's very knowledgeable archivist.

What are some fond memories from the edit-a-thon?

One of our favorite images was a WWI poster about getting protein from sources other than meat, namely cottage cheese. We all got a kick out this. We’ve incorporated this in a couple WP articles. We were also very impressed with ourselves after getting the news reporter to open an account! The participants had a pleasant dinner afterwards, and I hope that the contacts we made will lead to more meetups and projects.

Books & Bytes Briefly[edit]

  • The US National Archives is offering a new virtual internship program for Wikipedians: [2].
  • The Computer History Museum, located in the Silicon Valley, California is seeking a Digital Archivist: [3]
  • WikiData started a Periodicals Task force: Periodicals Task Force.
  • Wikimedia UK arranged a Wikipedian-in-Residence at the Royal Society. User:Johnbod is taking the spot: [4]
  • The Ada Lovelace Academy opened a digital school for young adults: [5]
  • The British Library donated a million public-domain images: [6] [7]. Talks are underway for how to catalogue and integrate these images on Commons: [8].
  • The National Museum of Korea announce high quality images of 7,300 artifacts would be released, and thousands pages of old books: [9]
  • The European Commission launches pilot to open up publicly funded research data: [10]
  • The Paleobiology Database is now CC BY: [11]. UNESCO launched a CC Open Access Repository: [12].
  • BioMed Central moves to CC BY 4.0 and CC0 for data: [13].
  • Norway will begin digitizing every book in its National Library and making free to access for any Norwegian citizen with a Norwegian IP address: [14]
  • The Open Knowledge Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with the BBC (BBC did so as well with with the Europeana Foundation, the Open Data Institute and the Mozilla Foundation: [15]
  • UK students David Carroll and Joseph McArthur's Open Access Button is developing: [16].
  • The US Department of Defense signed an exclusive agreement to license public domain archives: [17]
  • Elsevier issued takedown notices to professors posting copies of their papers on research sharing site [18]
  • Ann Okerson wrote a great reflection about the state of open access: [19]. The Open Science Center interviewed leading OA advocates as well: [20]. Dan Cohen considered "CC-0 (+BY) as an ideal system for freedom with optional 'ethical' attribution: [21].
  • NISO published a best practices guideline proposal for html metadata to identify the accessibility and reuse rights of a work: [22]. (Compare with WikiProject Open Access' Open access signalling pilot idea.)
  • Neat TED talk on the future of libraries in the 21st century: [23]
  • Out of 31 "informational world cities", a German survey of libraries by the University of Düsseldorf ranked two Canadian library systems, Vancouver and Montreal, as the best in the world: [24]
  • Open Data Day is coming, February 22: [25]

Further reading[edit]

There's lots of great digital library information online. Check out these neat resources for more library exploring.

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