For years, many faculty members wanted nothing to with Wikipedia and actively discouraged its use by students. With support from academic librarians, higher ed is taking a whole new look at Wikipedia as an educational resource.
In a June 25 session at the ALA Annual conference in Orlando, John Bracken, VP of media innovation for the Knight Foundation, said that the foundation has been focused on three key questions when working with libraries: What can be done to foster cross-discipline collaboration, possibly learning from projects in other civic sectors such as Code for America, 18F, or the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews collaboration; how can community be put “even more robustly” at the center of the foundation’s work; and how can the foundation help libraries tell their stories to wider audiences? “To succeed, particularly in a time of reduced public investment, it is vital to tell our stories in ways that people can understand the breadth of our work, and on platforms” where the public is present and listening, Bracken said.
Whether librarians and faculty like it or not, Wikipedia remains at the heart of the research process for many undergraduate students. Rather than trying to stem the tide, the University of California Berkeley is trying to make students there into more responsible and effective users of the online encyclopedia. To that end, the university’s American Cultures program has hired alumni Kevin Gorman as the first Wikipedian-In-Residence at a US university.
EBSCO has rolled out Research Starters, a new feature for EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) that presents student researchers with short, citable summaries on frequently searched topics. Drawn from sources such as Salem Press, Encyclopedia Britannica, and American National Biography, more than 62,000 of these 500- to 1,500-word summaries are accessible, offering students an authoritative overview of their chosen subject, as well as links to other research starter summaries, or peer reviewed research where they can delve deeper into a topic.
The Wikipedia Library is an open research hub started in 2010 when Credo Reference donated 500 free research accounts to Wikipedia’s most active editors. Partnerships with HighBeam, Questia, JSTOR, and the Cochrane Library followed. Now, the Wikipedia Library is developing into a portal to connect editors with libraries, open access resources, paywalled databases, digital reference tools, and research experts. Two of the project’s leaders discuss the potential for collaboration between libraries and Wikipedia, as well as the new Visiting Scholars pilot program.
Wikipedia users can now create ebooks using articles from the English edition of the crowd-sourced reference. Library consultant Linda Braun shows how it’s done.
On January 21, 2012, at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, LJ met with reference publishers, database aggregators, and public and academic reference librarians to discuss recent events and issues in the library world. It had been an exciting week. In protest against the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect […]
On January 21, 2012, at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Dallas, LJ met with reference publishers, database aggregators, and public and academic reference librarians to discuss recent events and issues in the library world. It had been an exciting week. In protest against the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA), which would have effectively forced online sites to police user-generated content, online reference giant Wikipedia had “gone dark” for a day.
The blackout was fresh in everyone’s mind and inspired some soul-searching about overreliance on this resource by patrons and librarians alike. But the group covered lots of other topics, too, from debates over patron-driven acquisition (PDA) and how to get reluctant students and faculty into academic libraries, to innovative ways to measure usage and get marketing help from vendors. The following comments are highlights of the conversation.