Grants:Project/OCLC/A Wikipedian-in-Residence to Engage 500 Librarians and their Communities/Midpoint
Welcome to this project's midpoint report! This report shares progress and learning from the grantee's first 3 months.
In a few short sentences or bullet points, give the main highlights of what happened with your project so far.
- A Wikipedian-in-Residence was hired for our Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together project
- In preparation for recruiting US public library staff for our Fall 2017 online training program, we are building awareness of the project and making the case for the relevance and value of Wikipedia to public libraries
- We are building connections with and between the public library and Wikipedia communities
- We are developing an online training program to increase skills and competencies in Wikipedia editing and programming in a collaborative learning environment; the program will run September 13 – November 15 and feature six live sessions
- We have outlined the skills and knowledge public librarians will need in order to engage with Wikipedia confidently; we have surveyed existing Wikipedia curriculum materials that can be adapted and identified new materials and resources that need to be developed for the project’s participants; and we are crafting instructional modules that effectively teach the material, with the support of appropriate activities and resources, within a dynamic and collaborative online learning experience
- Through interviews with public library staff, we are gaining insight about motivations for engagement with Wikipedia, barriers to engagement, models for successful Wikipedia programs, including community and/or Wikipedia partnerships; these learnings are being incorporated into our awareness campaign and program curriculum
- We anticipate new challenges, opportunities, and learning as we progress through the training /program, evaluation, and wrap-up activities of the remaining 12 months of the overall Wikipedia + Libraries project
Methods and activities
How have you setup your project, and what work has been completed so far?
Describe how you've setup your experiment or pilot, sharing your key focuses so far and including links to any background research or past learning that has guided your decisions. List and describe the activities you've undertaken as part of your project to this point.
Wikipedian-in-Residence recruitment and appointment
With input from the project’s advisors, we selected Monika Sengul-Jones as Wikipedian-in-Residence (WIR) for the project. Sengul-Jones is a communication and media studies scholar, educator, organizer, web developer and Wikipedian. Her passion for media literacy and community engagement guides her work with Wikipedia.
The project’s aim is to build bridges between public librarians and Wikipedians so that the two communities have more opportunities to understand each other and work together to expand free access to knowledge. In the past three months, Sengul-Jones (WIR) has been laying the groundwork for this by getting to know the Wikipedia and public library staff communities so that the project is well-positioned to bring them together.
Public library staff
Sengul-Jones has targeted her public library outreach to librarians who are already engaged, or have engaged, in Wikipedia. She has used Ask a Librarian chat sessions, email, phone calls and the personal references of public library staff to connect with 15 librarians for one-on-one, 30-60-minute interviews. Several representative excerpts from the interviews:
“Librarians, especially public librarians, are uniquely positioned to engage with this interface. Wikipedia is powerful; librarians can make it more reliable.”--Mary Phillips, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
“I just looked around and thought, Here I am in a room full of offline information—how can people assume all information is online? So I decided I had to do what I could to move more offline information online.”—Janos McGhie, St. Paul Public Library
“We [as library staff] are committed to providing quality services, empowering members of our community and enhancing the information available on the internet. Doing outreach with Wikipedia brought all of that together for us.”—Tiffany Bailey, Dallas Public Library
“Editing Wikipedia and organizing outreach events—both are beneficial to information professionals. It’s critical to do programs that connect the public to reliable sources of information that are free.”—Christina Morretta, San Francisco Public Library
“There are huge gaps [in Wikipedia]. That’s where our opportunity is. Our library is positioned to offset gaps in representation.”—Andrea Davis, San Francisco Public Library
The interviews serve the following purposes:
- Provide qualitative data about public library staff engagement with Wikipedia
- Confirm several of the project’s initial assumptions:
- Public library staff interest in Wikipedia is highest in areas that address expanding free access to quality information, their community’s information literacy needs, community engagement, and connecting people to their collections.
- Barriers to engagement with Wikipedia include concerns about its Wikipedia’s reliability, misunderstandings about notability and the role of primary versus secondary collections, the perceived difficulty of editing as an employee of a public library (Conflict of Interest)
- Inform the messaging of the awareness campaign, focusing on the alignment of Wikipedia engagement with the work of public libraries
- Increase the understanding of the range of motivations of the public library staff who do engage
- Inform the instructional design of the online training program by indicating the need to provide instruction that:
- Demonstrates how to contribute to Wikipedia and connect more people to participants’ libraries’ collections
- Equips public library staff with the skills and knowledge to use Wikipedia in information literacy activities for their communities
- Provides the necessary scaffolding and tools to organize successful Wikipedia programs for their communities
- Addresses public library staff concerns about Wikipedia and barriers to engagement
- Provide content for the Librarians Who Wikipedia spotlight series has been published on WebJunction.org and pushed out in project update emails and in social media. These articles:
- Increase the visibility of public library staff engaged with Wikipedia
- Feature these Wikipedia-librarians’ activities and programs as successful models—including information literacy instruction for their community members, community editing events, partnerships with community organizations, and increased visibility of their collections online
- Normalize the idea of public library staff as Wikipedians
- Make the case for the value and relevance of Wikipedia to public libraries from a practitioner’s point of view
- Generate interest among public library staff about the upcoming webinar and online training program; some of the interviewees will be invited to participate in the online training program to provide guidance and feedback to new library staff participants; one of the interviewees, Tiffany Bailey, is our confirmed guest speaker for the July 19 Wikipedia for Libraries preview webinar
These interviews have surfaced some useful learnings for Wikimedia and the Wikipedia community about public library staff engagement:
- Public librarians new to Wikipedia have been able to organize editing events using the Art+Feminism easy-to-use, self-directed toolkit
- Wikipedia programs have fostered productive institutional partnerships between public libraries and local community organizations and/or Wikipedians that library staff have expressed an interest in further developing
- When public library staff host successful Wikipedia events, their colleagues become more interested in Wikipedia
- Many public library staff who are doing Wikipedia programs don’t know about the outreach dashboard or find it useful—this is an opportunity to discover what might improve its use among public library staff
Sengul-Jones is also developing an awareness of public library community issues and perspectives through engagement in relevant online communities, including:
- Publibs listserv
- Facebook groups (feminist librarians, Wikipedia + Libraries, King County Public Library, which is relevant to Seattle)
- Twitter: “Banned Library,” “Hennepin County Public Library,” “Lousy Librarian,” “Jessamyn West” and other public library-related accounts
As the subject matter experts on the project team, Sengul-Jones (WIR) and Merrilee Proffitt (Senior Program Officer, OCLC Research) have continued to share and promote the project within their Wikipedia networks. Sengul-Jones has actively sought connections with organizations, projects, and Wikipedians in order to:
- Ensure that the Wikipedia/Wikimedia community’s vetted best practices and materials will be incorporated into the Wikipedia + Libraries project
- Incorporate learning from other Wikipedia outreach campaigns
- Connect with Wikipedians who will be project champions and supporters
To develop these relationships, Sengul-Jones is engaging (or has engaged) in the following activities:
- Tracking the outreach models and activities of AfroCROWD, Art+Feminism, Black Lunch Table, Wiki Education Foundation and Whose Knowledge
- Conducting 30-90 minute informational one-on-one calls, in-person conversations and/or skillshares with Wikipedians involved in libraries, outreach, GLAM or curious about alternative forms of participation; these are ongoing (in alphabetical order): Anasuyas, BlueRasberry, BrillLyle, Dnllnd, Dreamy Shade, HeatherFord, Hexatekin, MsSemantics, Megs, Ocassi, Phoebe, Ragesoss, Seeeko, Toykogirl79
- Co-wrote with Proffitt a Wikimania conference presentation proposal, which was accepted; proposal was written in collaboration with Wikimedians globally committed to working with libraries to open access and deepen allyship
- Contributes monthly to the Galleries Libraries Archives and Museums (GLAM) Wikipedia online newsletter (March, April, May)
- Participates regularly (as does Proffitt) in Wikipedia + Libraries (600 members) and Wikipedia Weekly (980 members) Facebook groups
- Participates in the bi-monthly WALRUS (Wikimedians Active in Local Regions of the United States) call, the collation of chapters and community organizations devoted to outreach in the Wikimedia movement; during these calls Sengul-Jones has recruited Wikipedians for one-on-one conversations and shared project updates with the movers and shakers in the Wikimedia community
- Attended a presentation on skills and Wikipedia’s gender gap by Aaron Shaw, assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University, who will serve as moderator on the ALA panel
These activities with the Wikimedia/Wikipedia community serve the following purpose:
- Lay important groundwork for the community support necessary to usher in new editors and connect public libraries to the Wikimedia community
- Give the project team insight into the challenges and successes that other outreach campaigns have encountered; these insights inform development of the curriculum
- Recruit Wikimedians/Wikipedians to participate in the training program
- Determine the level of awareness within the Wikimedia/Wikipedia community of the characteristics that make public libraries distinct and unique from other GLAM institutions; these insights help the project team understand how to better champion the work of public libraries to the Wikimedia/Wikipedia community; takeaways from these conversations are discussed in this report’s “Opportunities and Next Steps” section
Through a variety of communication channels and vehicles, the project team is raising awareness of the project and of the value and relevance of Wikipedia to public library staff and their communities.
- Project information and updates have been disseminated via WebJunction and OCLC channels: project pages on WebJunction.org, social media, #oclcwikilib, Crossroads monthly e-newsletter and OCLC press releases
- A range of project-related articles have been published on WebJunction.org, project pages and Crossroads, including:
- Librarians Who Wikipedia spotlight series of articles featuring public library staff who engage with Wikipedia , published on WebJunction.org homepage and project pages (1,123 page views of these articles) and featured in the project email updates mentioned above and Crossroads (23.5-24K subscribers, 18-20% open rates, average of 4600 unique opens per issue featuring spotlight articles)
- Articles highlighting practical tools and strategies for Wikipedia engagement: #1lib1ref, extending the reach of public libraries
- Promotion of the ISBN cite tool’s benefit to public libraries; as a result of collaboration between OCLC Research’s senior program officer (and Wikipedian) Merrilee Proffitt and the Wikipedia Library's Jake Orlowitz, this tool will increase the visibility of library collections online. More visibility of library collections leads to more Wikipedia readers and editors accessing free authoritative, verifiable reference materials—which can be offline.
- A monthly project email update, a digest of project articles (such as the Librarians Who Wikipedia series) and updates, and Wikipedia-related news items, has been sent to a growing list of subscribers (currently 212); open rates range between 40 and 50%
- Activities have been planned for the American Library Association annual conference in June 2017 in Chicago to showcase the project to library audiences:
- Leveraging Wikipedia for Libraries Conversation Starter panel: a facilitated conversation among panelists Theresa Embry, Chief Librarian at the Pritzker Military Museum and Library; Scott Walter, University Librarian at DePaul University, and Monika Sengul-Jones, WIR; Aaron Shaw, assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University, will moderate
- OCLC Research Update: a presentation on the project will be featured; Sharon Streams, director of WebJunction and Wikipedia + Libraries project director, and Sengul-Jones will present
- Training Showcase Learn Round Table: WebJunction will host a training talk table featuring the project
- Project collateral (postcards and stickers) will be distributed at the conference
- Sengul-Jones is contributing a chapter about Wikipedia and public libraries to Leveraging Wikipedia for Libraries, a book edited by Merrilee Proffitt, to be published by ALA
- Registration opened for Wikipedia for Libraries preview webinar, scheduled for July 19, 2017; the one-hour session will highlight ways public libraries can use Wikipedia to connect more people to their collections and engage their community members, and preview and encourage enrollment in the online training program; the WIR and Tiffany Bailey of the Dallas Public Library (featured in a Librarians Who Wikipedia article) will present and Betha Gutsche (WebJunction) will moderate.
- Sengul-Jones, the project’s WIR, was featured in Geekwire as its “Geek of the Week”
The project team has been developing and refining the curriculum for the online training program.
- The program will equip participants with instruction in Wikipedia essentials with robust scaffolding for a successful learning experience
- Public library participants will learn alongside their peers as part of an online community of practice hosted and facilitated by WebJunction
- The project team is inviting and incorporating practitioner voices, Wikipedia community and advisor input, along with WebJunction staff expertise in the design of effective online learning for public library staff; the curriculum will also build on available models and training materials for Wikipedia instruction
- The training program will demonstrate how participants can use Wikipedia as a tool to help them serve their community’s information literacy needs, engage their community members and connect more people to their library’s collections
- The online training program will run September 13 - November 15, with six live sessions
- The project team is also working on the development of self-directed activities to encourage engagement with Wikipedia for public library staff who choose not to enroll in the training program
Learning objectives drafted for the training program include:
Participants will gain the skills and knowledge needed to
- Describe the nature, characteristics and key principles of Wikipedia
- Recognize the values of the Wikipedia/Wikimedia movement and understand how the online community works
- Recognize the shared values shared between Wikipedia and public library communities and articulate the role of libraries to improve Wikipedia’s quality
- Describe the process of content development
- Define the criteria and elements that indicate quality and validity
- Perform editing and content creation in Wikipedia
- Understand and adhere to Wikipedia policies
- Guide patrons in the use and evaluation of Wikipedia articles as a resource
- Describe the characteristics and value of Wikipedia to colleagues/community members
- Train and motivate colleagues/community members to be successful Wikipedia editors
- Understand what is needed to plan, implement and facilitate a successful Wikipedia event at their library
- Use Wikipedia as a research and information literacy resource in a wide range of programming for their community
Working in conjunction with an evaluation consultant, TrueBearing, the project team has developed an evaluation plan for the project.
- Project activities and goals were organized into a logic model, which then informed the development of an action map for the project
- Using the action map as a guide, the evaluation plan has identified the priority areas and activities for assessment, evaluating the effectiveness of:
- The awareness campaign to recruit 500 US public librarians for the training program
- The training program to increase participants’ skills and knowledge of Wikipedia editing and programming
- The training program to provide the participants with the skills and confidence to apply what they’ve learned in order to successfully contribute to Wikipedia and implement Wikipedia programs at their libraries
- Project evaluation seeks to inform the baseline of current public library staff perceptions of and engagement with Wikipedia (summative), and to assess the effectiveness of the awareness campaign and the online training program (formative)
- Components of the evaluation plan include quantitative data (comprehensive pre-, post-, and follow-up surveys of training program participants, as well as informal polling), qualitative data (public library staff interviews, case studies), and metrics (email communication open rates and click activity, website traffic)
What are the results of your project or any experiments you’ve worked on so far?
Please discuss anything you have created or changed (organized, built, grown, etc) as a result of your project to date.
Due to the structuring of the WMF grant as a 12-month grant within a larger 18-month Wikipedia + Libraries project, we are currently at the midpoint of the WMF grant term but we are one-third of the way through the overall project. The project’s outcomes (outlined in the action map) will result from two primary activities which have not yet commenced; therefore, there are no midpoint outcomes to report in these areas:
Awareness campaign: Awareness activities are being conducted with the aim of increasing awareness among public library staff about the project and recruiting 500 US public library staff participants for the online training program. Registration for the program opens July 19. A related outcome to report is that registration opened on June 2 for the Wikipedia for Libraries preview webinar, which will highlight and recruit for the training program. During the first week of registration (prior to active promotion), 38 individuals enrolled.
Online training program: The training program is the core activity of this project. Through the carefully developed curriculum, live online sessions and a supportive community of practice, participants will gain knowledge and skills in Wikipedia editing and programming and the confidence to apply them. The program is scheduled to run September 13 through November 15, 2017, thus, there are no outcomes to report on this.
Outcomes: Building connections with public library staff
Sengul-Jones (WIR) has conducted interviews with public library staff for the purposes and outputs outlined in the Methods and Activities section above. What has emerged over the course of these interviews is that the opportunity to talk about and reflect on their Wikipedia engagement has had an impact on the interviewees--it has reinvigorated engagement with Wikipedia and/or sparked brainstorming for future Wikipedia programs among several of the public librarians interviewed. Shared in follow-up correspondence with Sengul-Jones subsequent to initial conversations:
- One of the public librarians said that the interview inspired her to brainstorm ideas with colleagues for another Wikipedia event, for which they’re looking to partner with other organizations in their community
- Another interviewee’s Wikipedia event had occurred a number of years ago; during her conversation with Sengul-Jones, the public librarian expressed what a successful event it had been in terms of engaging the library’s community and highlighting its local collections--she expressed interest in organizing another one
- Several other public library staff interviewed generated ideas for future programs while in conversation with Sengul-Jones and indicated an intention to implement these ideas in additional Wikipedia programming
These outcomes of the project’s outreach to public library staff points to the value in post-event reflection and discussion. It is likely that with the day-to-day demands of serving their communities, public library staff may have limited opportunities to reflect on, learn from and build on past programs. This is a useful lesson as the project team develops the training module (and related resources) on planning and sustaining successful and effective programs. We will want to highlight the importance of taking the time to learn from a completed event; whether in discussion with colleagues or in an online community of practice, these opportunities to learn from and inspire one another may prove useful in sustaining Wikipedia programming in public libraries.
Please take some time to update the table in your project finances page. Check that you’ve listed all approved and actual expenditures as instructed. If there are differences between the planned and actual use of funds, please use the column provided there to explain them.
Then, answer the following question here: Have you spent your funds according to plan so far? Please briefly describe any major changes to budget or expenditures that you anticipate for the second half of your project.
WMF grant funds have been spent according to plan:
- A full-time Wikipedian-in-Residence (WIR) was hired in February 2017. Recruitment and hiring for the position took just under three months from the beginning of the grant term and the WIR started at the end of February.
- The funds have been applied to the WIR’s consulting contract from the start date through May 31, 2017.
- There are no major changes to the budget or expenditures anticipated. However, we do anticipate the request of an extension of the project to align with the overall project timeline.
- As outlined in the project proposals, the Wikipedia + Libraries project engaged the WIR for a 16-month contract; the final four months of the contract will be supported as part of a grant to the project from the Knight Foundation.
The best thing about trying something new is that you learn from it. We want to follow in your footsteps and learn along with you, and we want to know that you are taking enough risks to learn something really interesting! Please use the below sections to describe what is working and what you plan to change for the second half of your project.
What are the challenges
What challenges or obstacles have you encountered? What will you do differently going forward? Please list these as short bullet points.
We are currently at the midpoint of the 12-month WMF grant term but we are one-third of the way through the overall 18-month project. Challenges encountered thus far:
- We have encountered a lack of enthusiasm for and skepticism about Wikipedia among some librarians who are holding onto impressions and experiences of seeing inaccurate and unreliable information on Wikipedia; hosting unsuccessful editing events; having negative editing experiences. Some prefer information seekers to connect to library collections via their library’s websites not via Wikipedia; and misunderstand the place of special collections (primary sources) and offline sources on Wikipedia as an online, tertiary reference. On the latter point, one librarian interviewed mistakenly thought that only references with URLs could be on Wikipedia. The communications and messaging throughout the project seeks to focus on shared values between the public library and Wikipedia communities, highlight success stories, incorporate practitioner voices and examples, communicate the nuances of Wikipedia and what’s changed since its earliest iterations.
- There is not currently an established community of Wikipedia-public-librarians; those who engage with it seem to be somewhat disconnected from others that do, so there has not been a network to tap into for support and successful models; the project seeks to raise the visibility of these librarians and create connections among them, and consider how an ongoing community of practice could be established and sustained to support their network.
- Recruitment for the online training program: getting the attention and commitment of public library staff already spread thin trying to meet their communities’ many needs at a time of significant threats to library funding; in order the address this, messaging must demonstrate Wikipedia’s relevance to their work and their local community, and must make the case to library administrators and supervisors as well as to public library staff.
- Crafting a curriculum for the online training program that will provide an effective learning experience for participants who will represent a broad range of interests, abilities, community needs, and library settings. The instructional design must fit the parameters of project schedule, online delivery mode, and participants’ availability.
- Supporting hundreds of participants who are new to editing so that their training is positive and effective, and encourages further engagement with Wikipedia
What is working well
What have you found works best so far? To help spread successful strategies so that they can be of use to others in the movement, rather than writing lots of text here, we'd like you to share your finding in the form of a link to a learning pattern.
Helpful for thinking about outreach with public library staff and how to model engagement using a frame of reference that library staff will consider is speaking to them
Helpful background for curriculum development related to preparing event participants about notability and verifiability guidelines
Although this is not a learning pattern, the project has benefited from the examples and learnings outlined in the successful engagement of public libraries in Catalonia. GLAM/Case_studies/Catalonia%27s_Network_of_Public_Libraries
Next steps and opportunities
What are the next steps and opportunities you’ll be focusing on for the second half of your project? Please list these as short bullet points. If you're considering applying for a 6-month renewal of this grant at the end of your project, please also mention this here.
- Building connections: continue to build bridges between the public library and Wikipedia communities through outreach and fostering of opportunities for collaboration and partnerships between the two
- Awareness campaign: continue to build awareness of the project and make the case for Wikipedia engagement to public libraries; recruitment of 500 US public library staff participants for training program; present the project at Wikimania and other conferences; host the Wikipedia for Libraries preview webinar; continue to communicate about the project via social media and public library networks
- Online training program: design the online training modules from the curriculum; prepare presenters for the live sessions. The training program runs September 13-November 15, 2017; foster and nurture participants’ engagement with Wikipedia through a well-supported, welcoming, and dynamic learning environment.
- Evaluation: continue to assess the effectiveness of the awareness campaign; disseminate survey instruments to evaluate the preview webinar and the training program; document several participants/libraries as case studies for how the learnings from the Wikipedia training are applied
- Communicate and share project outputs and learnings: in the final third of the overall project (beyond the end of the WMF grant term), the training program curriculum will be revised based on evaluations, case studies, and other project learnings and repackaged as a self-directed course that will be freely available on WebJunction and via WMF; project outcomes and learnings will also be shared as published articles and case studies
Based on Sengul-Jones’s outreach to Wikipedians, the project team has identified the following opportunities:
- The Wikipedia/Wikimedia community’s focus has been on GLAM communities; while there is a great deal of interest in the GLAM community in general, there does not appear to be an awareness of the qualities that distinguish public libraries from other GLAM institutions
- There is an opportunity to spotlight in conference presentations, upcoming blog posts and other communications those characteristics that make public libraries unique among GLAMs; this would deepen Wikimedians’ understanding of stereotypes about libraries, convey the wide range of services that public libraries provide, demonstrate how deeply committed public libraries are to serving their local communities and highlight all the ways public library staff work to expand access to knowledge; these would contribute to the fostering of connections between the public library and Wikimedia communities
We’d love to hear any thoughts you have on how the experience of being an grantee has been so far. What is one thing that surprised you, or that you particularly enjoyed from the past 3 months?
- One unanticipated development is that since the project was proposed, the interest in information literacy and concerns about the reliability of information online has emerged with a heightened sense of urgency. While information literacy was always going to be a central aspect of the project, now is a particularly opportune time to be promoting strategies and tools for engaging community members around information literacy.
- One surprise has been learning about the not-so-obvious ways that Wikipedia engagement has benefited public libraries—in the form of fostering relationships with new partners in the community and professional development (project management and technology skills) for library staff.
- One enjoyable aspect has been talking to and learning from the public librarians who are early adopters—they are enthusiastic and unintimidated; they are passionately driven to expand free access to information and they want to do their part to improve the quality of information online; and they are imagining new possibilities for using Wikipedia to engage and enrich their communities.
- The Wikipedia + Libraries team is appreciative of WMF’s interest and support of the project. From connecting the WIR to other Wikipedians to offering guidance about effective ways to work within the Wikipedia movement and community to sharing helpful insights learned from other projects, WMF staff have strengthened the project in valuable ways.
Monika Sengul-Jones (WIR) shares this reflection on her participation in the project:
“I was thrilled when I heard about this effort. I identify as a critical Wikipedian: I love the idea of open access to knowledge, and I’m always curious and skeptical about how ideas materialize within contextual constraints. To this end, my Wikipedia story is about editing and citations and about improving content specifically related to the gender gap. It’s also about educating others about the gaps on Wikipedia: why they might be there, and how they can be opportunities to think more deeply about the world we’re in and where we want it to go. As a communication scholar, I’m passionate about media literacy. But given that our mediated encounters are so frequently digital, it’s essential that information literacy is a part of any media literacy campaign. Literacies necessitate know-how: when you learn how a text is produced, you can learn to read it more critically and thoughtfully. I’m grateful to be part of this effort to work with public librarians to learn to read Wikipedia by editing it, so they can help their community members be more adept digital citizens. I can’t think of better partners for the Wikimedia movement than OCLC and WebJunction. WebJunction models excellence in meeting adult learners where they are and developing programs that respect the dignity of adult learners. They take the theories behind dynamic, cohort-driven learning and weave them together with best practices in online education. The way the project has gone so far has surpassed my expectations and I am gearing up for the fruitful connections I know will be making during the training program.”