Search results for: wikipedia

The Wikipedia research conundrum: Is it citable?

There is a disconnect between how students are taught to use Wikipedia and the way that they actually use it. The notion of an encyclopedia that anyone can edit has led teachers to warn that Wikipedia is unreliable and should never be used or cited as a source of serious research. In reality, most of us use Wikipedia all the time in our research. Defenders of Wikipedia’s contribution model even point out that democratization of contribution is beneficial and necessary for the level of breadth, depth, and reliability it has achieved. If Wikipedia’s open contribution model doesn’t stop researchers from using it, why are students taught to avoid it?

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Top posts for 2018: Wikipedia, Linked Data, Container Collapse, and … the Blues?

OCLC

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The Blues? Yes, the Blues. Along with the library/Wikipedia connection, the promise of linked data, and the collapse of information containers, our “Three Cures for the Humdrum ILL Blues” post was one of the topics that got the most traffic in 2018.

Overall, the OCLC Next blog continued to grow in 2018. About 55,000 readers stopped by nearly 70,000 times this year to check out our posts. From those, we’ve chosen five of the most popular to share with you again.

The Top #OCLCnext Blog Posts of 2018 Click To Tweet

From all of our authors and editors, thank you for reading and sharing our work and making the blog successful! We hope you’ll continue reading. Have a happy holiday season and joyful new year!

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From deplorable to delightful: How to establish a Wikipedia initiative on campus

Samantha Dodd

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“I think what you are doing is absolutely deplorable.”

This was the reaction I received during a departmental meeting in which I was trying to pitch the libraries’ new initiative to incorporate Wikipedia editing into the classroom. For the most part, I was met with resistance and the same arguments that academics have been using since the inception of Wikipedia: it’s inaccurate, it lacks proper sources, and it encourages plagiarism, vandalism.

So, I changed my approach. Instead of me trying to convince them of why their students should be taught how to edit Wikipedia, I decided to let their colleagues do it for me.

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Three things librarians wanting to engage with Wikipedia should think about first

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Wikipedia is big. Maybe not googol big, but 5.4+ million articles in English is up there. The platform is the fifth-most accessed website globally, and billions of edits have been saved since the online encyclopedia launched in 2001.

Though most librarians have read Wikipedia articles and work with patrons who use it regularly, few librarians actually edit Wikipedia. There are good reasons libraries need Wikipedia, and vice versa. So how could you get started with Wikipedia at your library?

One way to get a handle on something big is to start small. That’s what I’ve been learning from public library staff in my role as the OCLC Wikipedian-in-Residence for the past 16 months, which included interviewing public library staff and teaching a nine-week online training program.

Here are three surprisingly simple things about Wikipedia that public library staff involved with the Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together project say their peers and colleagues should know.

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Three reasons Wikipedia needs libraries, and vice-versa

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We have a pretty good idea of what it means to be a librarian or library worker. We know what the values, talents, and goals are for many in our profession. On the other hand, what does it mean to call yourself a “Wikipedian?” Is it just an interest? Or do you need to reach certain milestones? If we’re going to examine the intersection of both institutions, it would help to know.

In the broadest sense, someone is a Wikipedian if they contribute. The more you contribute, the better, of course. But even adding a few citations or making one important correction qualifies you. And that openness, that ideal of collaborative creation and curation is what, I think, really makes these two communities natural allies.

Wikipedians and librarians share similar passions and purposes. Working together, we create a better and stronger Wikipedia with more visibility for library resources. And there are three ways that our communities reflect each other in the work we do.

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Wikipedia the WebJunction way

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In the past decade, Wikipedia’s reach has expanded. It’s the fifth most-visited platform globally.[1] And the quality has stabilized. A 2012 Oxford University study comparing Encyclopedia Britannica to Wikipedia found no significant difference in quality or reliability between the articles they compared. However, research suggests that asymmetries in the demographic profile of the existing pool of editors, which are 80–90% white males, has led to biases and underdeveloped content areas.[2]

To improve the encyclopedia and address these gaps, volunteers and Wikimedia Foundation staff have collaborated to host outreach programs and editing events. These have seen successes, but there’s still room for improvement. Only some of these programs have focused on galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM, in Wikimedia terminology), and none of the outreach has been specifically geared to public libraries and their important role as champions of information access and mainstays in serving their local communities.

The time has come for an effective, focused training program that brings Wikipedia to US public libraries.

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Let’s open library doors to Wikipedia

wiki-librariesWhat if Wikipedia, the sixth most popular website on the planet, and libraries joined forces? The result could be transformative. Deeper, more authoritative content embedded in this internet encyclopedia. Librarians actively helping their communities raise their profiles. And libraries connecting their unique resources with a larger web audience.

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Let’s talk race: The power of conversations

For many people, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has had great personal importance since its origins in 2013—especially in the past year. But in South Carolina, where I work as Manager of the Richland Library Edgewood, this important issue took on even greater local consequence with the murder of Walter Scott in North Charleston and the Charleston church shooting in 2015.

Many people were angry, confused, and frightened. There was a need for reliable news and information and for constructive local discussions. As a community-driven organization, we saw this as a humanitarian crisis, and so we asked, “How can the library help our community heal?”

Our answer was, “Let’s talk race”—a simple but powerful set of programs open to anyone in the community. We’ve now facilitated more than 90 conversations with 4,000+ community members from all backgrounds on a variety of topics explicitly convened to discuss race, social justice, and inequality.

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Global library discovery and fulfillment: How we’re the same, and how we differ

When we presented last year’s Global Council report on access to open content, we got a lot of great feedback. Both from Council delegates—who reported that it exceeded their expectations—and from our membership and the library community in general. The report provided insights on an important topic that hadn’t been explored in that way before: to gain a collective global understanding of the activities, investments, and efforts libraries are engaged with around open content. This report is just one of the ways that Global Council works on behalf of libraries by gathering insights each year to help inform the profession and OCLC on topics of importance to the library profession.

This year Global Council sponsored a survey to gather “Global Perspectives on Discovery and Fulfillment,” with a goal of gathering enough information from each of our three geographic regions to be able to make statistically significant comparisons if and when possible. I’m pleased to share that we hit that mark and can report back on a few interesting differences.

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Public libraries generate social capital that can save lives

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When disaster strikes, libraries are there to help. In California, where many have been forced from their homes due to forest fires and power outages, libraries like Folsom Public Library have become a refuge for people who need to charge devices, use WiFi, or just have a place to go. In March of 2011, a powerful earthquake triggered enormous tsunami waves in the Tōhoku region of Japan, killing thousands of people, driving hundreds of thousands from their homes, and leaving millions without electricity and water service. In the months after this horrific disaster, as hundreds of government services, NGOs, and private and international relief agencies struggled to help communities recover, residents also looked to public libraries for help.

Why is that? Libraries don’t provide food, water, electricity, or medical services. In many cases, libraries had suffered the same catastrophic losses as their neighbors; staff had perished or been injured, buildings completely destroyed or unusable, resources gutted. Why, then, did people so quickly turn to libraries after a disaster? Because of social capital.

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