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ARL White Paper on Wikidata Highlights Use of Open Knowledge in Scholarly Communication, Special Collections

closeup of two hands holding Wikipedia globe
image CC-BY-SA by Wikimedia Foundation

In a new Association of Research Libraries (ARL) white paper, a task force of expert Wikidata users recommend a variety of ways for librarians to use the open knowledge base in advancing global discovery of their collections, faculty, and institutions.

Librarians are using Wikidata’s structured data about people, topics, concepts, and objects to populate open source faculty profiling systems, to enhance bibliographic records in online catalogs, and to collaborate with communities on meaningful, culturally relevant, descriptive metadata for special collections and archives. The white paper, circulated for public comment in fall 2018, contains examples of Wikidata applications, screenshots, and recommendations for involvement on an individual or organizational level.

“Creating original metadata that is exclusively contained in local systems doesn’t make sense in a global knowledge ecosystem,” said Stacy Allison-Cassin, member of the ARL Task Force on Wikimedia and Linked Open Data and digital pedagogy librarian at York University. “Depositing linked data in Wikidata, where it can be reused and linked to collections and knowledge all over the web, extends and expands the impact of metadata creation and strengthens our contribution to public goods.”

Beyond the task force, many library professionals from within and outside the Wikimedia community contributed to the white paper in draft form, offering a productive mix of enthusiasm and skepticism that improved the final product. ARL convened the task force and wrote this white paper to inform its membership about GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) activity in Wikidata and to highlight opportunities for research library involvement, particularly in community-based collections, community-owned infrastructure, and collective collections. Many in the international research community, including in libraries, are focused on community-owned infrastructure and robust metadata to facilitate open scholarship practices, and this paper takes a close look at Wikidata through that lens—as a public good worthy of examination and support.

Download and read the ARL White Paper on Wikidata: Opportunities and Recommendations.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise, promotes equity and diversity, and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.

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