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ARL/Wikipedia Summit Promotes Deeper Collaboration between Libraries and Wikipedia

image CC-BY-SA by Wikimedia Foundation

It all started with a hunch. At the Fall 2015 Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Meeting, ARL’s Innovation Lab hosted an “I’ve Got A Hunch” session. Rather than presenting fully formed ideas, the concept of the session was to share hunches or ideas at an early stage that might develop and take root. From this exercise emerged the idea of exploring how ARL libraries and Wikipedia might collaborate at scale.

This idea continued to develop and culminated in an ARL/Wikipedia Summit that took place in Columbus, Ohio, on August 17–19, 2016. The Association of Research Libraries and Wikipedia gathered together a group of 25 librarians and Wikipedians to explore synergies and seek out common trajectories. The summit emerged from a shared conviction that libraries and Wikipedia have become interdependent. Research libraries have traditionally provided content, supported Wikipedians’ research, and organized edit-a-thons. Wikipedia on the other hand, has become an essential part of libraries’ research ecosystem.

The summit pushed beyond the current relationship between libraries and Wikipedia and its incremental approach to explore how we might collaborate at scale. How might the deep expertise and critical mass of ARL libraries be brought to bear on the Wikipedia project? Where do research libraries and Wikipedia share a common future, and how might we co-evolve? And how might the cultures of both libraries and Wikipedia adapt and change to unlock new possibilities?

Linked open data emerged as one potential area of focus where data silos can be broken down and “round-tripping” of data could mutually enrich libraries and Wikipedia content. Participants also explored how we might create learning communities for Wikipedians-in-residence and Wikipedia visiting scholars to strengthen and even seek to change Wikipedia culture. Diversity and inclusion in Wikipedia was an overarching theme of the summit—how can libraries help address the gaps in content and the cultural barriers inherent in Wikipedia? And how can we keep up the communication between and among the two entities?

Stay tuned for more on the next steps in this collaboration between research libraries and Wikipedia this fall.

About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in the US and Canada. ARL’s mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organizations. ARL is on the web at http://www.arl.org/.