Wikimedia in Higher Education Symposium at The University of Sydney
The Writing Hub at The University of Sydney hosted a free one-day Symposium on using Wikipedia in Higher Education, which attracted around 50 participants from across Australia. Wikimedia Australia also supported the event, providing travel funding to some of the participants. The Symposium included a keynote address from Kerry Kilner entitled "Teaching Research Methods Using Wikipedia", and eight other talks from academics, Wikimedians, academic Wikimedians, and even representatives from the State Library of New South Wales who shared their perspectives as a GLAM institution who have recently engaged with Wikimedia in a big way (see last month's report for details of their Wikipedian in Residence). Five attendees new to Wikipedia participated in an editing workshop. There were two extended discussions (roundtable and panel) where the future of open education was vigorously debated. The multi-disciplinary diversity of participants was striking, and with it came a broad range of both imaginative uses and robust criticisms of Wikimedia projects and their openness/closedness to student contributions.
April was a very library month. One of the speakers at the Higher Education Symposium (see item above) organised by 99of9, was the leader of library’s Innovation project with whom I work at the State Library of New South Wales. Her presentation was about the library’s online engagement projects, including its experimental use of a Wikipedian in Residence.
Meanwhile, back at the library itself, work continues on integrating the newspapers published in New South Wales into the encyclopedia. The List of newspapers in New South Wales, which has over 2,000 entries, has been re-organised and more effectively linked to its parent article List of newspapers in Australia. This is turning out to be a bigger and more surprising project than anticipated. The cataloguing and organisational effort is becoming both a research product and a research tool. Librarians would not have produced such a list themselves and it is not likely that Wikipedians would have either. Yet the list is revealing a very contemporary and useful relationship between libraries and Wikipedia in support of research and their respective missions. The whole process is demonstrating some things that may be of interest elsewhere, such as:
- the model, including developing a master list from which individual newspaper articles can be developed, may be relevant to other large libraries, particularly those which have subsidiaries or are part of a library network;
People involved in the project are coming to realise that libraries are more like Wikipedia than they are like museums and other GLAMs. For example, they live to give information away. Librarians, like Wikipedians, work hard at making it easy to find things out. As well, every piece of advice the librarians dispense from their reference desks in reading rooms must be sourced. Making it up or saying “just because I know” is not allowed. Sound familiar?
We have had one evaluation meeting related to the Wikipedia initiative. The State Librarian and the Director of Library Services, among others, came to hear about the trials and triumphs of engaging with us. Work with the Indigenous unit at the State Library is also proceeding. We hope to have some ideas to share soon about doing this successfully.
In other Library news, the National Library of Australia in the capital Canberra now has a Wikimedian on its permanent staff. Former WMF GLAM-fellow and WiR at the British Museum, Liam Wyatt (Wittylama), started there as Social Media Coordinator in April.