November 18, 2017

Librarypedia: The Future of Libraries and Wikipedia

Wikipedia LogoWikipedia and libraries connect to one another in a circle of research and dissemination. Wikipedia is becoming the starting point for research for many; it can in turn lead readers back to other sources and encourage them to engage in deeper learning within their library.

While in the past, many librarians have encouraged patrons to eschew Wikipedia in favor of library databases and secondary sources, they are now starting to work together, in recognition of the fact that today’s students often rely on the Internet and Wikipedia for their initial overview. Libraries are working to make sure they are part of the pipeline so that students following the crowdsourced Wikipedia bibliography back to full-text references will find libraries as the end point if not always the starting point.

The Wikipedia Library is an open research hub for improving the world’s largest encyclopedia and connecting readers back to libraries and reliable sources.

It started in 2010, when Credo Reference donated 500 free research accounts to Wikipedia’s most active editors. Four partnerships, followed with donations from HighBeam, Questia, JSTOR, and Cochrane Library—over 4500 accounts individually worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars. In 2013 the Wikimedia Foundation funded a grant to expand the library further, which has been underway for the last nine months, shifting the focus from only managing paywalled donations to a much broader campaign of outreach and integration.

The Wikipedia Library is developing into a portal to connect editors with libraries, open access resources, paywalled databases, digital reference tools, and research experts. It is a place for active Wikipedia editors to gain access to the vital reliable sources that they need to do their work and to be supported in using those resources to improve the encyclopedia. We aim to make access and use of sources free, easy, collaborative and efficient.

The Wikipedia Library is working together towards five big goals that create an open hub for conducting research:

Connect editors with their local library and freely accessible resources
Partner to provide free access to paywalled publications, databases, universities, and libraries
Build relationships among its community of editors, libraries, and librarians
Facilitate research for Wikipedians, helping editors to find and use sources
Promote broader open access in publishing and research