Grants:Project/OCLC/A Wikipedian-in-Residence to Engage 500 Librarians and their Communities

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A Wikipedian-in-Residence to Engage 500 Librarians and their Communities
summaryOnline Computer Library Center ("OCLC") will embed a Wikipedian-in-Residence into our forthcoming project to train hundreds of U.S. public librarians how to contribute to Wikipedia, connect with local Wikipedians, engage their community with Wikipedia and better leverage local library collections.
targetThis project will primarily serve and impact English-language Wikipedia; materials and methodologies can be used in other language Wikipedias.
type of grantuncertain
amount70,000 USD
contact• Merrilee
volunteerThe Interior72.199.48.78
this project needs...
created on17:26, 2 August 2016 (UTC)

Project idea[edit]

What is the problem you're trying to solve?[edit]

Explain the problem that you are trying to solve with this project. What is the issue you want to address? You can update and add to this later.

Public libraries are natural partners to extend free and open access to information and engage diverse communities in collecting and creating educational content through Wikipedia. Public librarians are stewards of quality information, standard bearers for information literacy and curators of authoritative collections. They are also committed to serving all members of their local community equally, and serve as trusted, reliable hubs for active learning, knowledge creation and sharing. Despite their commitment to intellectual freedom and access to information for all, only 324 Wikipedians in English language Wikipedia identify as librarians (0.001% of all Wikipedians and 0.2% of U.S. librarians reflected in Wikipedian Librarians (category) and ALA Library FactSheet).

While anyone can contribute to Wikipedia and its growing base of knowledge, knowing how to edit Wikipedia remains a mystery to most people, even to information professionals such as librarians. Barriers to librarians actively working with Wikipedia include persistent questions about its quality, a lack of understanding of how Wikipedia works, or perception that the Wikipedia editing process or community is impenetrable. If information professionals feel disconnected from Wikipedia, it’s safe to assume that other community members do as well, and will remain disconnected without guidance from a trusted source. Librarians can help bridge this gap. The benefits that would come from connecting librarians to Wikipedians are clear. However, public librarians have acutely limited resources, which means that traveling for training is unlikely. This hampers their ability to learn new things and create new programs without support. The clear alignment between the democratic purpose of libraries and the egalitarian principles of Wikimedia provides an excellent occasion for library staff to learn why libraries and Wikipedia should work together, and how that work can strengthen both the communities that libraries serve and the Wikipedia community.

What is your solution?[edit]

OCLC (Online Computer Library Center, Inc.) was recently selected as a winner of the 2016 John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge (KNC) for our project Improve Access to Knowledge and Empower Citizens: Amplify Libraries and Communities through Wikipedia. This project will deliver a national training program for approximately 500 public librarians to build their skills to create and edit Wikipedia articles and implement Wikipedia programming for their community members. The training will adapt and augment existing materials and resources to teach the basics of Wikipedia editing and community norms, and give librarians the guidance to engage local Wikipedians in related library events and activities. OCLC will use its established online learning expertise, tools and deep connections to the public library community to deliver the training online, and conduct a national awareness-building campaign to promote Wikipedia to the public library community. This project builds on the work of OCLC Research program officer Merrilee Proffitt, who has explored the intersection of Wikipedia and libraries over the past five years.

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 83% of librarians are female (2015 statistics). It is anticipated that the librarian participants in the KNC project would be predominantly female as well, which would help reduce the gender imbalance in Wikipedia editorship (please see "Closing Wikipedia's Gender Gap" for more on how this project may help address this important goal).

A key component of the project plan is to employ a fulltime Wikipedian-in-Residence for 16 months to help develop learning objectives and a curriculum that are allied with Wikipedia community norms, forge connections with Wikipedians and provide guidance to public libraries who organize Wikipedia programs in their community. The Wikipedian-in-Residence’s subject matter expertise regarding Wikipedia standards, processes, community norms and local access points will be critical to help hundreds of library learners turn their online learning and contributions into local community impact, and will help prepare the librarian learning cohort for success. However, the amount awarded by the Knight Foundation does not fully cover this position; therefore, we would apply the Wikimedia Foundation grant to support 12 months of the Wikipedian-in-Residence term. It is important to note: the Wikipedian-in-Residence for this project will be training hundreds of librarians from a nexus point provided by OCLC. The Wikipedian-in-Residence will be guiding and interacting with a cohort of librarians learning together as they participate in live online sessions and complete practice activities. This format provides learners with more structure, support and ongoing motivation than would a series of online tutorials or instructional videos watched independently and without expert facilitation. And unlike a Wikipedian-in-Residence that is fixed to a particular geographic area, this position will work with libraries from a variety of geographies and community sizes.

By being hosted by OCLC and embedding in this project, the Wikipedian-in-Residence will be able to connect with and guide hundreds of libraries and, by extension, the communities those libraries serve. This role requires a skilled professional who, in addition to having Wikipedia subject matter expertise, is familiar with best practices in continuing education and professional development for information professionals, understands the professional values of libraries and cultural heritage institutions, and has experience working in highly collaborative, large-scale project environments. In addition to preparing public librarians to become Wikipedians, this project provides a unique opportunity for Wikipedians to tap into a large network of public librarians all at once. By helping to bridge the library and Wikipedia communities, this project strengthens their shared mission to preserve and expand open and free access to knowledge for all.

Project goals[edit]

Explain what are you trying to accomplish with this project, or what do you expect will change as a result of this grant.

Our KNC project will provide online training to approximately 500 librarians in communities across the United States so that they are able to:

  • Understand and describe to colleagues and patrons the Wikipedia organization, editorial process and quality standards.
  • Edit Wikipedia pages with confidence, ideally to the Wikipedia standards of “good” or “featured” articles.
  • Create and deliver local outreach programs that actively engage their communities in generating new, and/or editing existing, Wikipedia articles. (Although the bulk of instruction to library participants will be conducted online, they will be encouraged and supported to facilitate in-person events in their local communities, and report back on the outcomes of those events to the project team. Participants will be supported in creating and communicating Friendly Space policies for these events.)
  • Contact and engage existing local Wikipedians to participate in these outreach programs.
  • Make library resources more visible to Wikipedians.

After the training, participating librarians may apply their learning in these ways:

  • Educate their patrons and communities on the real values and limitations of Wikipedia as a research resource, and how the library can aid them in making best use of this tool.
  • Educate their patrons and communities on how to evaluate the information found from any source, including Wikipedia.
  • Edit articles of local or personal interest.
  • Cultivate relationships with any existing local Wikipedians.
  • Engage their communities in actively creating and improving Wikipedia content.

Project plan[edit]


The primary activities of our KNC project are to:

  • Hire a Wikipedian-in-Residence for a 16-month appointment. The request to the Wikimedia Foundation is to support 12 months of this term.
  • Conduct a U.S.-focused awareness-building campaign to promote general understanding and awareness of the value of Wikipedia among librarians, and build interest in the forthcoming training opportunity among target public library audiences.
  • Design and deliver an online training program to approximately 500 public librarians in the United States, develop competencies and skills related to project goals; provide facilitated support to libraries through an online community of practice as they implement Wikipedia activities in their libraries and programs in their communities.
  • As libraries put their new knowledge, skills and Wikipedia connections into action, the project team will follow what a subset of the libraries do, provide targeted guidance, and produce case studies or other summaries to highlight impact.
  • Package the training program curriculum and resources for other librarians or aspiring Wikipedians to access at no cost, use and adapt beyond the lifecycle of this project.
  • Conduct project evaluation and reporting.

The primary activities of the Wikipedian-in-Residence will be to:

  • Support the project team to identify, create and promote materials that enhance general understanding and awareness of the value of Wikipedia among librarians nationwide.
  • Provide subject matter expertise to inform training curriculum.
  • Interact with training participants through the online community of practice, support participants as they put newly acquired knowledge and skills into action, and build relationships with local Wikipedians in their communities.
  • Guide a subset of libraries as they initiate local programming to engage community members with Wikipedia, and help produce summary case studies from these experiences.
  • Support packaging and dissemination of training curriculum into sustainable learning collateral that will remain available to all, at no charge, beyond the project lifecycle.

Here is a detailed outline of the activities with timeline, as taken from our KNC proposal:

1. Build Awareness: December 2016 – September 2017

  • Hire Wikipedian-in-Residence (“WiR”)
  • Identify existing Wikipedia-library connections, information resources and existing training materials to incorporate into the training program
  • Create, adapt, publish materials that promote general understanding and awareness of the topic among librarians, build interest in the forthcoming training opportunity
  • Communication, outreach (webinars, blogs, articles, presentations, social media)

2. National Online Training for up to 500 librarians: March 2017 – November 2017

  • Instructional design – build curriculum modules for live online sessions and independent activities,
  • Recruit and enroll participants – promote the opportunity to public libraries, conduct (free) registration
  • Set up online learning space and prepare participants, disseminate pre-training survey for evaluation purposes.
  • Hold multiple live online sessions, which all participants attend together as a learning cohort. In between sessions, participants will practice what they learn, and discuss their experiences with peers, WiR, and other project staff in an actively facilitated online space on Sessions will be recorded and archived for rewatching. Distribute post-training survey.
  • Follow-on activities: Dec. 2017– March 2018. Libraries put their learning and Wikipedia connections into action. WiR and project staff will guide and observe a subset of libraries, including use of program evaluation tools.

3. Revise and Package Resource Set: Jan. 2018 – May 2018

  • Update curriculum based on learner feedback, post-program survey results, and project staff observations
  • Produce case studies or equivalent documentation that captures knowledge gained from library activities
  • Curate and publish new resources that emerge during the course of the program

4. Program Evaluation: Dec. 2016 – May 2018

  • Consult with external evaluator to design program evaluation framework to assess awareness campaign, training program, and outcomes
  • Conduct evaluation activities and collect data
  • Analysis and reports


OCLC seeks supplemental support from the Wikimedia Foundation of 70,000 USD to cover 12 months of the 16-month term of the Wikipedian-in-Residence position that is planned for our KNC project. This covers the salary plus benefits for a full-time position with the requisite skills and experience. Funds from our award from the Knight Foundation would cover the remaining four months of the position.

Community engagement[edit]

This project targets public librarians in the United States, as public libraries are established connection points for equitable access to information in communities nationwide, and public librarians are committed to promoting learning for all. The project goals and activities previously described detail how public librarians will be continually engaged in this project to learn about, contribute to and engage their communities with Wikipedia, via awareness-building and training efforts facilitated by OCLC.

Input from the Wikipedia community is also central to this engagement. The Wikipedian-in-Residence will play a central role in helping library participants understand how to cultivate relationships with local Wikipedians in their own communities. In addition to the Wikipedian-in-Residence, OCLC has identified the following contacts to serve as voluntary advisors to this project for its duration.

Both the Wikipedian-in-Residence and these project advisors will strengthen the integration of all project activities with established norms and relationships in the Wikipedia community. Building on the strong base of Wikipedians who have already signed on to help with the project, OCLC will also directly engage active Wikipedians who have committed themselves to the GLAM-Wiki cause such as the Wikipedians who have gone through the US GLAM-Wiki Consortium bootcamp and those who are subscribed to various GLAM and Cultural partnership lists. The project will also leverage existing Wikipedia community resources such as the Teahouse.


Librarians across the United States will have the knowledge, skills and relationships to continue to integrate Wikipedia into their library services and programs over time. They may also be inspired to share their experience and learning with other librarians and Wikipedians. The curriculum and training materials generated through this project will be consolidated, curated and hosted on, for open access and at no cost to users under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 license. This means that staff members from all types of libraries and any location, along with any other aspiring Wikipedians from other backgrounds, will be able to access and use the curriculum and related resources at no cost to them or their institutions. The scope of the curriculum and related resources will be comprehensive to the point that users can undertake a self-directed learning experience to become Wikipedia contributors and ambassadors, leveraging the learning and best practices generated by the training cohort. The Wikipedian-in-Residence will help raise the visibility of these resources to the Wikipedia community.

Measures of success[edit]

Our KNC project goals will be monitored and measured according to a comprehensive evaluation plan, which will be finalized when the project begins. The evaluation plan will include a comprehensive theory of change and specific, measurable evaluation metrics tied to a project logic model. It will align closely with a project implementation plan to ensure continuous monitoring, learning and improvement. Specific metrics may include:

  • Percentage of public library organizations reached through national communications campaign
  • Number of social media impressions generated through national communications campaign
  • Number of confirmed participants in training program (targeting 500)
  • Growth in training participant knowledge and skills related to learning objectives
  • Number of Wikipedia articles edited by project participants
  • Number of relationships cultivated between project participants and existing Wikipedians
  • Number of local community engagement events hosted by project participants
  • Number of librarians identifying as Wikipedians post project
  • Number of participating Wikipedians that recruit/identify libraries as local partners
  • Number, size and geographical distribution of communities represented by project participants

The Wikipedian-in-Residence will be positioned to influence the results across all of these potential measures.

Get involved[edit]


In addition to the Wikipedian-in-Residence, our KNC project will be implemented by the WebJunction team at OCLC, who has skills in project management, instructional design, training and communications. WebJunction Director Sharon Streams and Senior Program Officer Merrilee Proffitt are co-leads of the project. Brief bios of other team members are available at: WebJunction Team Members.

Online Computer Library Center ("OCLC") is a global nonprofit library cooperative, comprised of librarians, technologists, researchers, writers, managers, administrators, leaders and learners. Together as OCLC, we transform the way people engage with information. We create connections between and throughout our communities with the goal of making information more accessible and more useful ( Since 2003, our WebJunction program has bolstered the knowledge, skills and confidence of library staff with online-based learning content and programs that keep libraries moving forward ( WebJunction is free and open to all.

Sharon Streams, Director, WebJunction, has been with OCLC and its WebJunction program since 2007. She has 20+ years of experience working in nonprofit organizations, with skills in grant programs management, grant seeking, online and print publishing, editing and user experience.

Merrilee Proffitt (User:Merrilee), Senior Program Officer in OCLC Research, provides project management skills and expert support to libraries whose interests overlap with those of OCLC Research. Her current projects and interests include developing better relationships between Wikipedia and cultural heritage institutions and how rights statements adversely impact the discovery and reuse of cultural heritage. Merrilee championed OCLC’s first Wikipedian-in-Residence position.

  • Volunteer Have both public library and Wikipedia experience. Would love to help out in any capacity. The Interior (talk) 19:59, 9 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer Hello, I am Jay Evans, a Library Assistant for the San Diego Public Library. I would love to join this project of the 500 librarians. 13:49, 10 October 2016 (UTC)
  • Volunteer. I'm an admin on the English Wikipedia, a MLIS student about to graduate this year, and a volunteer at the Library of Virginia. I'd love to volunteer for this as well! Tokyogirl79 (talk) 09:37, 9 January 2017 (UTC)

Community notification[edit]

Please paste links below to where relevant communities have been notified of your proposal, and to any other relevant community discussions.Need notification tips?


Do you think this project should be selected for an Individual Engagement Grant? Please add your name and rationale for endorsing this project below! (Other constructive feedback is welcome on the discussion page).

  • Support Support A Wikipedian-in-Residence program partnered and coordinated with OCLC is a smart, valuable initiative that would increase Wikipedia literacy for public librarians across the United States. See Discussion page for additional comments and questions. -- Erika Herzog aka BrillLyle (talk) 02:15, 3 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support I strongly support this initative. It is long overdue! TeriEmbrey (talk) 13:50, 3 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support as an advisor on this project, I think they are definitely off in the right direction. Moreover, the potential benefit of a widely used, clearly available training for GLAM folks in English, guided by people like Merilee and another Wikipedian (that this grant will pay for), is super exciting. I do have a question of why an NC license for the materials: if these teaching materials are to be a broad benefit to the Wikimedia community, such as being able to change the captions for the videos and place them on commons, I would think a freer license is a must. User:Astinson (WMF)
  • Support Support have done some librarian editathons, would like to grow training, make a part of practice. and having a librarian ethos at wikipedia would be a plus. building on #1lib1ref success story. Slowking4 (talk) 15:54, 3 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support A program that will certainly have a multiplier effect.
  • Mega-Support Support Training librarians and bringing them into the community has always been a dream of mine. The Interior (talk) 18:05, 3 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support I and World University & School, donated to Wikidata last autumn, support this and will seek to add this to the "Library Resources" wiki page at CC WUaS (planned in all 7,943 languages with artificial intelligence, machine learning and machine translation) after WUaS moves to Wikidata Scott_WorldUnivAndSch (talk) 15:54, 3 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support Not long ago I co-led a webinar on this topic that received wide interest and participation among highly varied librarians in the Upper Midwest, so I feel there is a significant audience to expand this kind of outreach. -McGhiever (talk) 02:14, 4 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support I think this is a very well-planned grant, and OCLC is an organization that holds a good deal of name recognition in the library world. The community piece of this project, particularly that it is focused on public libraries, is also important. As a librarian/Wikipedian that has some experience with both edit-a-thons and Wikipedia in the classroom, I'm interested in ways to encourage editors who are most interested in project/subject-based contribution, or editors who feel most comfortable participating via recurring social events. Public libraries, with their local community connections, are a great venue to explore how the Wikip(m)edia community as a whole can create structure for a wider range of editors to participate, perhaps those without reliable IT resources at home, or those who are less familiar with computing technology. In addition, public libraries can often be good connectors to the high school or retiree communities, or speakers of languages other than English that can aid in translation projects. There are a wealth of opportunities here, and I think it's very exciting. AmandaRR123 (talk) 16:38, 4 August 2016 (UTC)
  • Support Support Tobias1984 (talk) 16:42, 11 August 2016 (UTC)