New York Library Association. - The eBulletin

Wikipedia Institutional Partnerships in New York City

by Dorothy Howard

The number of cultural heritage institutions, libraries, and archives in New York that are editing Wikipedia has been growing at an ever-increasing rate thanks to locally organized GLAM-Wiki (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, Wikipedia) activities. The GLAM-Wiki movement, inaugurated by librarians Liam Wyatt at the British Museum in 2010, is a project to promote cultural heritage professionals to add the research, citations, and digitized resources to Wikipedia. The key impetus of the project: to promote public access to institutional resources and contribute freely licensed images to the public domain.

In August of this year, the Metropolitan New York Library Council announced its first Wikipedian-in-Residence. As METRO is a consortium of several hundred institutions, the position has been primarily focused on outreach and education and has arranged staff trainings, presentations, and info sessions. GLAM outreach projects encourage institutions consider the impact of editing Wikipedia on the traffic to institutional resources and digitized materials, and to find where Wikipedia might fit best in workflows.  Project documentation has also been stressed as a way to help local institutions share best practices for adding GLAM content to Wikipedia, a necessary aspect of the movement because of its relative newness and constant evolution.  

METRO’s Wikipedian-in Residence has worked with the local Wikimedia Foundation chapter, Wikimedia NYC, to plan public Wikipedia editing events. Most recently, METRO helped organize an Edit-a-Thon on Queens History at the Queens Library Central Branch on December 6th, an Edit-a-Thon on Greenwich Village History at the NYPL Jefferson Market Library on November 2nd, an “Advanced Wikipedia Training” for experienced editors, that took place at METRO, and a “Propose an Article” Wikipedia project, selecting several requested Wikipedia articles from METRO member institutions to add research and citations relevant to the institution. Upcoming area Wikipedia events include an Edit-a-Thon at a New York Public Library in Harlem, and an “Art + Feminism” Edit-a-Thon with Eyebeam Art and Technology Center.

The local Wikipedia activities are part of a growing national and international GLAM-Wikipedia initiative. With its current momentum, the effort can only be expected to develop better techniques, tools, and practices for institutional Wikipedia editing on adding museum collections, research files, citations, and adding images to the public domain- making Wikipedia an ever more ubiquitous tool among local GLAMs.