Wikipedia:The Wikipedia Library/Newsletter/June-July2014

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Books & Bytes
Issue 7, June-July 2014
by The Interior, Ocaasi, Sadads

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The months of June and July have been full of exciting developments with the Wikipedia Library. We're really growing our partnerships, our team, and our global reach. Read on to find out more!

Library highlights[edit]

Access partnerships[edit]

  • New partnership: Keesing's World News Archives - a World News Aggregator who provides summaries of major global events, and fact checks the information reported in the news. We are excited to see where editors use the content!
  • New partnership: British Newspaper Archive - a partner of the British Library, BNA has donated 100 accounts for Wikipedians to access local newspapers throughout the British Isles. Highlights from the recent expansion of articles include: James Farmer (knight), 1884 FA Cup Final, Amateur Football Alliance and Muchelney Abbey amongst many others.
  • New partnership: - We will be opening up applications for in the next week. provide an American complement to the British Newspaper partnership that we opened last month, providing access to thousands of regional and local newspapers from the United States. We are excited to be able to strategically fill in coverage gaps within our library of materials.
  • New partnership: FindMyPast - a sister project of British Newspapers Archive, FindMyPast is a genealogical database that provides access to documents marketed for a British genealogical focus. However, as previous usage of the database on English Wikipedia shows, Wikipedia editors creatively have used those sources to supplement all kinds of Biographical and non-biographical content on Wikipedia.
  • New partnership: BMJ (British Medical Journal) - One of the world's premier medical publications, BMJ publishes some of the foremost medical scholarship, major trials, and important review articles in the field.
  • New partnership: Adam Matthew - a subsidiary of SAGE Publications that focuses on publishing databases of primary sources and accompanying supporting material. For this partnership, we will have access to 10 of the databases included in their "White Label Titles" that allow access to a range of collections relevant to major topics in American and World History.
  • New partnership: Past Masters - the Past Masters database is a collection of definitive scholarly editions of canonical author's work run by Intelex Corporation. For our access partnership, we strategically asked for two collections that can help broaden our Wikipedia Library holdings: The Women Writer's Collection and The Religious Studies Collection.
  • Expanded and renewed partnership: JSTOR - JSTOR is an excellent multidisciplinary database for accessing thousands of academic journals. We are very excited to see that partnership expand from 100 to 500 accounts. When we announced the expanded partnership in June, we saw hundreds of applicants. We are excited to be able to continue providing such high quality academic materials to our editors!
  • Expanded and renewed partnership: Credo - We were initially approved to renew 500 accounts and add 140 new ones. Credo is currently rethinking the collection editors will have access to, switching from 350+ reference works instead to a collection of topic pages which closely overlap with our highest importance, most trafficked articles.
  • Free online: The New Yorker magazine has released some if its archives of long-form journalism (2007 and onwards) from behind a paywall for the summer.

Global expansion[edit]

  • Arabic - Arabic Wikipedia Library book requests are rolling in and 11 books have shipped through the newly launched Arabic Wikipedia Library. We're working on improving the scale and efficiency of that program despite major barriers for shipping to parts of the Middle East.
  • Chinese - The Chinese Wikipedia Library launches! TWL homepage is up with a free resource collection growing! Many thanks to Addis Wang for his help organizing the localization and page development.
  • Spanish - Talks are underway with Hahc21, Maria Sefidari, and Wikimedia Mexico about creating a Spanish Wikipedia Library
  • German - Talks are progressing with Aschmidt and WMDE about launching a German Wikipedia library in the fall. Aschmidt is contacting 10 top German publishers including Genios, De Gruyter, and Juris.


American Library Association Annual Conference[edit]

Jake (Ocaasi) and Patrick (The Interior) travelled to Las Vegas, Nevada, for the 2014 ALA Annual. This conference of over 25,000 librarians, publishers, and information professionals presented TWL with multiple venues to make some progress on our initiatives. Some highlights from the weekend:

  • An editathon at the University of Nevada Las Vegas' Lied Library attracted a good group of Rare Books and Manuscripts librarians. Organized by Merrilee and Kosboot, this was an excellent opportunity to discuss not only the practicalities of editing the encyclopedia, but also how and where librarians can contribute in a manner that addresses the WP community's concerns about Conflict of Interest. As these librarians are the guardians of some of North America's finest collections of primary documents, there is great potential for collaboration and improvement of WP content.
  • Ocaasi participated in a formal presentation at Caesars Palace alongside members of OCLC, Rutgers University, and Montana State University on various aspects of the Wikipedia/library interface, with a focus on how academic libraries at higher learning institutions can create fruitful partnerships with Wikipedia and its editors. Take a look at the slideshow: Wikipedia and Libraries: Increasing Your Library's Visibility
  • An important focus of the trip was to take advantage of the large number of publishers and database providers manning the booths in the Exhibitor's Hall. We identified some of the most desirable products for our editors, and targeted those companies and institutions. Our newly designed, color one-sheet flyers: Access Partnerships, Impact Metrics, and Visiting Scholars were placed into many hands.
  • We had in person talks with numerous publishers from ALA, including post-conference email follow-ups and phone calls. We talked with EBSCO, ProQuest, Elsevier, SAGE, Gale, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Intelex Past Masters, Adam Matthew, E-Libro Spanish ebooks and others. We also dropped by Credo, Cengage, and JSTOR to say thank you for our existing partnerships.
  • OCLC and Merrilee Proffitt wrote a great blog to their network about TWL and the ALA experience: [1]
  • We noted an encouraging change of tone with regards to how the library world perceives Wikipedia. Mostly gone are the criticisms and disdain that characterized professional librarian's views toward the project in the past. Librarians and archivists from diverse areas of the library world expressed their interest in bringing their institution and Wikipedia together, and many admitted how heavily they use the encyclopedia in their reference work. Publishers we approached were at the least intrigued, and sometimes extremely interested, in the concept of the Wikipedia Library. TWL hopes to have a large presence at the next ALA Annual, held in San Francisco in 2015, and we encourage Books & Bytes readers to join in with ideas for how this should take shape, put together editathons and presentations, and hopefully attend themselves!

Jake and Patrick also visited the WMF in June where we met new ED, Lila Tretikov: she was excited about the work TWL is doing and wants to see a whole lot more of it!

Final grant report highlights[edit]

We turned in our final grant renewal report to the Wikimedia Foundation on meta. We are excitedly working with the Wikimedia Foundation to make sure that our next steps from our report become actualized. But in the meantime, we thought we would like to highlight the executive summary:

The Wikipedia Library
June 2013 - June 2014
Total unique users 1,940
Total accounts 2,924
Total value $1,263,011
Users this round 864
Accounts this round 1,005
Value this round $714,010
Visiting scholars 5
Library tech tools 2
Coordinators 14
Global branches 3
Grant amount $28,700
  • Access: In the past 6 months alone, 864 unique users signed up for 1005 accounts. To individually purchase just these last round of accounts would have cost $714,010.00. This combines with the prior $547,000 from the first 6-month round of the grant for a total of 1,950 unique users with 2,924 separate research accounts. Individually purchasing these accounts would have cost $1,263,011.
  • Access: We formed, renewed, or expanded partnerships with 9 publishers in the last 6 months; on that list are reference icons such as Oxford University Press and JSTOR (by far the most heavily demanded resource in our editor survey).
  • Global: Even though we have been English Wikipedia-centric in our management 428 editors from 64 other language projects (which they identify as their home or major project) have signed up for 623 accounts since 2011. In all, 22% of our editors have a major home on a non-English Wikipedia project.
  • Global: The first global TWL satellite launched with Arabic Wikipedia Library, testing a new book purchases program co-organized by WMF Grants. Chinese Wikipedia Library also launched, and talks are well-underway with the Spanish and German communities.
  • Diversity: We've increased the diversity of our offerings with science and medical content (Royal Society, Cochrane, BMJ), global events (Keesings), genealogical records (FindMyPast), regional newspapers (British Newspaper Archive and, classics of women writers and religious history (Past Masters), and multicultural historical archival collections (Adam Matthew).
  • University: 5 visiting scholars were placed at 4 top research institutions with full library access.
  • Coordination: The TWL Team has grown significantly. We have three project-organizers, four technical coordinators, one outreach coordinator, a growing team of volunteers overseen by our head of volunteer coordination, and global satellite coordinators for Arabic, Chinese, German, and Spanish Wikipedia.
  • Tech: We have released working tech with the WikipeDPLA tool as a userscript and chrome browser extension. We have a working alpha version of the OCLC Full-text Reference tool.
  • Promotion: We developed crisp and lucid one-page pamphlets persuasively summarizing our main offerings for potential partners. Included in these are impact charts showing 300-600% increases in external links to partners and 200% increases in incoming referral traffic from Wikipedia. We pitched over 30 top research databases and publishers.
  • Outreach: We presented at WikiConference USA, the American Library Association midwinter and annual conferences, Stanford's Open Everything speaker series, and Turnitin's Education and Plagiarism online conferences. We'll be presenting at Wikimania in London.
  • Outreach: We wrote about TWL or were written about in the Signpost, Wikimedia Foundation Blog, OCLC blog, Library Journal, Digital Shift, and the Wiki Education newsletter. Our Twitter account @WikiLibrary has 1,116 followers.
  • Motivation: Experienced editors repeatedly tell us how happy they are with receiving access to partners: that they 'need' it and go through 'withdrawal' without it. Whereas major WMF initiatives (Visual Editor, Flow, MediaViewer) sometimes frustrate experienced editors because that investment focuses on other audiences, such as new-editors and the public user bases, Wikipedia Library access to reliable sources directly supports super/top/power editors, helping them recognize how the Foundation's efforts support their own interests.


  • WikipeDPLA, formerly the userscript known as FindDPLA is now a working chrome browser extension. Plus it doesn't autoload so you can keep it on all the time. Check it out: [2]

Coordinators: What are they up to?[edit]

  • Sadads is working on developing new partnerships with multiple other publishers and helping process existing signups, developing reporting and communications material, and getting feedback and participants for our Library interns program during Fall 2014. Contact Sadads via email or his talk page if you have any contacts who might have library interns interested in contributing to Wikipedia!
  • The Interior is working on a project to guide archivists in contributing further research section entries about their archival collections and building a citation template for archive holdings. He also processed 500 JSTOR signups!
  • Nikkimaria is now onboarding the 10 editors who signed up to help process accounts as volunteer coordinators. In addition, she has been the main coordinator processing CREDO, BMJ, OUP, and several other signups. Thanks Nikki!!
  • Nischay Nahata had coded an alpha version of the OCLC full text reference tool
  • Anton Ninkov is setting up our own server Instance on Wikimedia Labs so we can localize ip lookups for sending queries to the OCLC API
  • Eric Phetteplace has built WP:FindDPLA into a working and improved Chrome extension, WikipeDPLA (check out his progress on github)
  • Madman is emailing signup forms to hundreds of editors for multiple partnerships. The next step is to create a web-interface to semi-automate that process so we can conduct more efficient contacting of editors at scale.
  • Merrilee is continuing outreach to universities. She is also planning a project to improve the quality of Wikipedia articles on university libraries.

Spotlight: Working with Wikipedia to Bring History Facts to Light[edit]

"Working with Wikipedia to bring history facts to light" by Simon Tushingham, previously ran on the Newspaper Archive blog and another version at the WMF Blog
I have a History degree from the University of Cambridge and Wikipedia has always been a way for me to explore my interest in Indian and local history. When I got access to The British Newspaper Archive through the Wikipedia Library, I saw it as an opportunity to explore one of Salford’s local history mysteries.

— Simon Tushingham

Sir James Farmer[edit]

I discovered the mystery by speaking to several people who had been apprentices at the Sir James Farmer Norton & Co Ltd engineering firm at the Adelphi Ironworks in Salford.

None of them could really tell me anything about Sir James Farmer, though they knew lots about the products the company had manufactured. These were sold worldwide and many are still being used and resold now. Some of the products were truly innovative, such as a fast printing press.

The only information they really knew about Farmer was that he was once Mayor of Salford. Although the company did produce a celebratory booklet for an anniversary, there really doesn’t seem to have been much written about the man who started it all.

Starting Sir James Farmer’s Wikipedia article[edit]

Because of his impact on my friends and our community, I suspected that Sir James Farmer may have been one of the more notable of the many self-made, often world-changing, engineering men who inhabited Manchester, Salford and the surrounding areas in the 19th century. He needed a Wikipedia article!

Wikipedia’s model for article development supports the ‘from little acorns…’ approach. If I could start an article about Farmer, then perhaps at some time in the future someone might find more information and add to it.

Wikipedia also has limitations. Inaccessible verifiable information usually means no article – it is meant to be an encyclopaedia, after all, so there needs to be some type of public and reliably documented conversation to show that it is of interest to the public. I couldn’t use the primary source material available at a couple of archives and there wasn’t really much else that I could find without trawling through microfilms.

Using The British Newspaper Archive[edit]

Enter The British Newspaper Archive! Forget spending days, probably weeks, twiddling at a film reader, I could get access to the most important information about Farmer with one simple search.

In the space of a couple of hours, most of which was spent being pleasantly distracted by other news articles surrounding the ones about Farmer, I’d gathered enough material to justify an article.

The man is now recognised on a major educational project that gets millions of viewers. I’ve planted that acorn and given him some of the recognition he deserves. Hopefully, given time, much more can be said about him and his company.

Sir James Farmer’s obituary[edit]

Here’s an example of what I was able to find at The British Newspaper Archive: Farmer’s obituary was published in the Manchester Times in 1892 and included an illustration of him.

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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