§Wikipedian in Residence in the Swiss National Library
This month, both of us began to work as Wikipedian in Residence (WiR) at the Swiss National Library. So far, the library support is excellent; we have already held a first information event for the employees and the interest in our work was huge. Collaboration potential is high, there are in particular many collections of historical relevant pictures of great interest which we might upload on Commons.
Within the next months, we want to digitize three public domain collections. The first collection is about paintings and drawings related to Switzerland and the last two ones gather old photographics. We are also planning presentations and workshops for the employees; they will get the chance to contribute and learn how to write their own articles.
We made a more frustrating experience by creating a unique SUL account for the Swiss National Library. The idea of this account was, and still is, to have an account as a corporate personhood; as a result, pictures and edits are uploaded by the institution and not by individuals. The main goal of this account is to upload content to Commons and provide one single point of contact to the communities on their respective Wikipedias. In our opinion, this is the most natural, efficient and sustainable way for exchange (questions about sources for example) between the institution and the community. The Swiss National Library would then be free to delegate the responsibility of this account to a few specific people depending on its human resources constraints; these people being free to answer to requests, in the name of the institution.
On the Wikipedia in German, this account has been verified/certified via OTRS. Thus, contributors get the guaranty that they really deal with the Swiss National Library. On the Wikipedia in French, our account has been well accepted, the same on Commons. Less welcoming were the English and Italian speaking Wikipedias: we were blocked, because they forbid multiple user accounts in general. Although both of them have proposed to us an alternative based on a project page and multiple "Swiss National Library individual accounts", we think these workarounds are not convenient and de facto impair long term collaboration with GLAMs. One of the reasons is that a GLAM doesn't feel responsible for such a page. A contrario, if they use an institutional account, they will then have the responsibility for it and will use it also when the WiR program is over or an employee has left. If the community is afraid that institutional/multiple-users accounts are mainly used for promotional purposes, they should elaborate better rules instead of just blindly forbid them. An example/proposal of rules which would work for us follows...
An account of a corporate personhood would be allowed if:
current and past editors are listed on the institution user page (example),
edits are signed (for example for John Doe: ^JD),
no substantial changes are done in the encyclopedic namespace,
no contributions are made on their own article at all.
For now, and in our case, the consequence of this problem is that we won't be directly available on the Wikipedia in English and Italian. But, we would really appreciate this experience feedback to help to become clearer about the challenges our communities face. Without abandoning our core rules, we should really think more from a GLAM perspective. All things considered, we are the ones who have the most to lose in making GLAM's life complicated...