Libraries serve as society's gateway to knowledge. With the advent of the Internet and the rise of a digital information commons, libraries are spaces for citizen engagement, the preservation of cultural heritage, and the sharing of open information, along with their traditional role of maintaining collections of print and digital media for reuse.
The mission of Wikimedia is to empower and engage people around the world to collaboratively collect and develop open educational content, and to disseminate it effectively and globally. We see libraries as our natural partners in this endeavor. Working together, we can promote scholarly and cultural knowledge, information literacy, and open access.
Wikipedia loves libraries
It's true, and more than just a mantra. "Wikipedia Loves Libraries" is the second annual continent-wide campaign to bring Wikipedia and libraries together with on-site events. Running this fall throughout October and November, libraries (and archives) will open their doors to help build a lasting relationship with their local Wikipedian community. The timing coincides with Open Access Week in October; October is also American Archives Month, National Book Month (US), and Canadian Library Month, as well as falling in the middle of the fall school term.
Events might be simple or elaborate, large or small, but one thing is certain: they will bring enthusiastic library lovers into the building in a spirit of volunteerism. Wikipedia Loves Libraries 2011 was held at academic, public, and special libraries and archives, in over a dozen institutions large and small, including the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Inglewood Public Library, Harvard College Lamont Library, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Vancouver Central Library, and the Tom of Finland Foundation Library.
“We’re training our staff to learn best practices of Wikipedia, to add links and content, in appropriate ways, to articles which correspond with their areas of expertise.”
“[Wikipedia] improves with your understanding of it. As you understand its structure and the way it’s created, you can get more value out of it. That’s part of what we want to teach in libraries — how to get the most from a Wikipedia article, and how to contribute the most to a Wikipedia article.”
Manager, New York Public Library Labs
President, Wikimedia New York City
What can I do?
Any Wikipedia-friendly event could fall under the umbrella of Wikipedia Loves Libraries. Here are some tried-and-true examples from past events. An event could incorporate activities one or more of these suggestions, or other creative ideas.
Simple but fun. Provide space at your library for local Wikipedians to hold a meetup. It is a good opportunity to get to know each other and plot the course for future Wikipedia collaborations with your institution.
A tour of your facility; especially good if you have closed stacks or work spaces to show. Wikipedians are your online volunteers, serving your patrons' information needs and improving access to and information about your collections. Why not treat them like volunteers?
A working meetup. Invite Wikipedians to use your library's resources for an in-person editing session, usually revolving around a preselected theme (like a particular library collection or a topic of interest to the community). A great chance to see collaboration in action, and work with the pros.
A beginning Wikipedia literacy and editing workshop could be held for staff or as a public program. There are many Wikipedians with on- and off-line experience in teaching Wikipedia.