Grants:Project/Rapid/KCVelaga/TWLCon India - 2019/Report
The Wikipedia Library (TWL) is an open research hub for editors across different Wikimedia projects, helping experienced editors access quality sources, especially by providing free access to several paywalled databases which would otherwise require a payment or just be difficult to access. Over the years, it has successfully collaborated with librarians and libraries across the globe in various contexts. However, it wasn't until recently that TWL began to pick up steam amongst the Indian communities. Following a session on TWL at Hindi Wikipedia Conference in January 2018, the first-ever Indian-language branch of TWL was set up on Hindi Wikipedia (page on hi WP). But setting up a branch was just the tip of the iceberg because the activity was still below par. Having tried various channels and ways to sell the branch to the community, it was time to knock on different doors. The 1Lib1Ref sessions in May and June 2019, followed by a session about TWL at Wiki Advanced Training 2018 in June 2018, helped promote the idea of TWL among Indian Wikimedia communities. Around the same time, a year-long effort by Abhinav619 began to bear fruits—TWL signed an MoU with Economic & Political Weekly, first of its kind in India. Several communities later expressed their interest to set up local branches, but experience with the Hindi-branch proved there ought to be a different approach for TWL to engage with the Indian Wikimedia communities.
This instigated the idea of having a national-level meetup with participants from various communities, to discuss the way(s) of making TWL a successful endeavour in India. An initial discussion happened amongst AVasanth (WMF), FNartey (WMF), KCVelaga, Manavpreet Kaur, and Shypoetess. Initially the idea was just to promote TWL to Indian Wikimedians and discuss proceeding further with a larger plan. Because it would be too limited a conference, it was later expanded to also have a discussion around libraries and librarians in India, and how TWL along with the larger Wikimedia community can make the best use of them. It was also decided to have this completed before the 1Lib1Ref campaign starts in January 2019. Though the rapid grant proposal for this event was submitted in the second week of September 2018, there was a bit of a delay before it was approved in the third week of November. As mentioned earlier, it happened before January third week, and to avoid a potential clash with another event, the first weekend of January had been chosen. This left organizers with very less time to bring things together. As the budget was very limited, it made the situation even more complicated to handle.
CIS-A2K was helpful in contacting institutions to host the event. After exploring several options across the country, eventually Subodh (CIS-A2K) helped us to secure the venue at Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics (GIPE) in Pune. GIPE readily agreed for us to use their venue gratis and was also kind enough to accommodate the participants in their guest house at subsidised charges, which in turn helped increase the participant count. There was very little time for the call for participation, selection of participants, travel and accommodation arrangements, venue related logistics, inviting experts and work on the event program, among several other tasks. In the meantime, there were suggestions from a few community members about the scope, program, and participants selection on the event's talk page. All the comments and concerns were duly addressed. There were concerns about having limited scope and participation. The event, being the first of its kind, was intended to have a limited-participation, and was the budget. However, the organisers tried their best by restructuring the program and also explaining the situation to the community members that the event has a limited budget, and the logistical constraints involved. Adopting a new method, we used Phabricator to handle various aspects of organising between the team. It was really helpful to coordinate things and it will also be used to track the followup activities. The workboard can be seen at https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/project/board/3751/query/all/.
The program was framed in a way to ensure there was enough time to discuss TWL and in general about Wikimedia + Libraries in India. We also had invited talks by various experts associated with libraries in and around Pune. The list of people invited can be seen here.
As part of the first day's (5 January) schedule, a visit to Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) was arranged to look around their advanced scanning centre and get to know about their rare books project. However, some of the participants who arrived early on 4 January visited the centre on Day 0 itself to make enough room for events the following day. On the evening on Day 0, we had an ice-breaker session for a couple of hours, where the participants introduced themselves, also sharing their relevant experience working with libraries. The librarian of GIPE, Dr. Nanaji Shewale, also joined us for the session. He explained about the digital library of GIPE and shared his insights on working with libraries in India. He also offered help for anyone should they wish to connect with librarians from different parts of India.
The first day of the event kicked off with invited talks. The first one was by Prof. Madhav Gadgil (Padma Bhushan recipient, Government Of India, renowned ecologist and the founder of the Centre for Ecological Sciences), who spoke about the importance of citations and future of references in the academic world. He also spoke about the importance of work done by the Wikimedia projects in various contexts and how it is useful to the society. Followed by a talk from Pradeep Rawat (Founder & Director, Rawat's Nature Academy), who shared his experience of building a thematic library in Pune and how he has been successful in making the public to make effective use of it. After the two invited talks, Aaron Vasanth (Global Coordinator, TWL) presented about TWL to participants and guests; spoke about its origin, their work, and the various programs it runs. This was followed by a talk from Dr. Sunita Bharve (Senior Technical Officer [Librarian], National Chemical Laboratory), who talked about the current trends of libraries, both in terms of technology and philosophy, along with the hardships being faced, metadata standards, future trends, and finally about how Wikimedia and libraries can be a mutual benefit to each other.
Following her session, we had a group activity on "Wikimedia and Libraries in India". The participants were divided into four groups, with each group given a dedicated topic to brainstorm on. The groups were:
- Group 1: Cross community "Resource exchange" (Etherpad): The group discussed having a common "Resource Exchange" (RX on English Wikipedia) on Meta-Wiki for all Indian language Wikipedias.
- Summary of the discussion: Since many of the Indian Wikipedias are still emerging and are relatively small, having individual resource exchange pages will lead to decreased participation and may even ahve no participation at all in some cases. It will likely restrict the exchange to an intra-language level. So having a common page will yield better activity. Also having a single landing page will be helpful for outreach to libraries to help Wikipedians with the resources they have access to. It should be language friendly so that any editor who can place a request irrespective of their language preferences. After promoting the page i.e. creating awareness in Wikimedia communities. External organisations like libraries has the potential to make this endeavour successful.
- Group 2: Building local libraries withing communities for use (Etherpad)
- Summary of the discussion: This can be a good idea to consider if the community is geographically constrained to a small area. Also, there can be issues related to space, maintaining a record of these books, and also the criteria to include/exclude a book. Instead of building libraries within the communities, it will be more beneficial to start promoting the use of existing local libraries. This progresses towards having a partnership with those institutions, and the number of resources accessible will be more.
- Group 3: Collaborating with research institutes to curate content (Etherpad)
- Summary of the discussion: The culture of reviewing articles (like on English Wikipedia) is prevalent among Indian Wikipedias. Most of the Wikipedians don't have the system of assessing articles. To foster this culture, collaborating with research institutes can be a good option. Subject experts from these institutes will review comprehensively developed articles on Wikipedia, and award a grade to such article (like FA) when those comments are addressed. However, getting Wikipedias to write a comprehensive article is a challenge. It was also observed that many institutions show interest to work at mass for such a project, often supported by a grant. An alternative could be bringing experts to Wikiversity. A survey in collaboration with libraries will be effective to promote TWL among the librarian community. The objective of the survey will identify potential areas for collaboration. The survey needs to be designed in such a way that participants of the survey will study about TWL and its programs, before taking the survey. In this way, we will be promoting TWL effectively and at the same time have more area for collaborations.
- Group 4: How can TWL + Wikisource work together? (Etherpad)
- Summary of the discussion: TWL works on making pay-walled repositories making more accessible to Wikipedians, and Wikisource improves access to copyright-free works. Both the entities can collaborate on building a single platform that will be able to search through paywalled journals, Wikisource database, and also other open access works which are not listed with TWL or Wikisource but are copyright free. This can also be extended to CC-BY-NC, CC-BY-ND, CC-BY-NC-ND, but depend on legal constraints of WMF and Wikimedia projects. The main pages of Wikisource projects should be redesigned in such a way that it has a user-friendly catalogue with organised information about the works present on that project.
After the brainstorming session, each group presented their idea and points/ideas. The day ended with a visit to BORI by Wikimedians who were not able to visit the place on the previous day. Post-visit to the scanning centre, Dr. Shreenad Bapat (Registrar and Curator In-charge, BORI) spoke about the rare books digital library project (http://borilib.com/repository) their institution has been doing. He demonstrated how to use the platform and explained their future plans for this project. Wikimedians opined that this can be a very helpful resource to develop history articles.
The second day started off with a session on WikiCite—including its objectives, current status, and applications. During this session, the applications of bibliographic information on Wikidata, such as Scholia and Template:Cite Q were discussed. This was followed by an invited talk from Dr. Nanaji Shewale (Librarian of GIPE), who spoke about their digital library (https://dspace.gipe.ac.in/xmlui/) which has 25,000 works and also various research services they offer. He also discussed the project they do, in general about the various rare resources that GIP library has. It was followed by a discussion about how we can collaborate with the institute to make the best use of these resources; possibilities include a Wikip(m)edian-in-Residence or a Library Intern under TWL. The discussion also covered some points about how the Wikimedia community can reach out and work with libraries in India. Participants opined that there is a lack of awareness and also interest in many cases. Making librarians to join the #1lib1ref campaign as Champions can be a good option.
Following that, the tools Citation Hunt (CH) and Inventaire were demonstrated. Inventaire can probably be used for exchanging resources between Wikimedians. It was decided to send some recommendations to the tool developers and also explore the opportunities to use this platform to boost resource exchange. This was followed by an online talk by Tanveer Hasan on "Knowledge Balance in Indian Wikipedias and role of libraries". The talk touched upon points of how Indian Wikimedia projects have been working, what needs to change, and how will that change positively affect the Wikimedia projects and the communities. He also spoke about why librarians should be a part of our mission, in interests of mutual benefit.
Post Tanveer's talk, we had a brainstorming session about the "Book Purchase Program", previously experimented by TWL with Arabic Wikipedia. We started brainstorming on if we should try this program in India in the first place and if we did, how it should be structured. Before lunch, all the participants were asked to write on the etherpad, at least one project or idea that would they pursue after the conference. Though it is not possible to have 100% retention in any program, this activity was to make it clear about the followup for this conference, and also materialise at least 2-3 ideas that have been generated through this event, over a period of next 4–6 months. Post-lunch, we had an open session through the end of the day, in which participants divided themselves into several groups/pairs to share expertise/knowledge, know more about a project a person has been doing, get advise to the idea they wanted to pursue post-event. We had a demonstration of OpenRefine for working with bibliographic data, a group discussing building a list of online databases in India, and several other pairs/trios went on as well. We had a group photograph and informal socialising and finally, wind-up.
- Did you meet your goals? Are you happy with how the project went?
- Yes, we are happy about the overall project. Though we faced hurdles at several stages due to various issues, the final program went well. However, the actual impact of the project can be clearly seen after at least 6 months (by June 2019), depending on to what extent will the participants materialise their plans.
- Please report on your original project targets.
|Target outcome||Achieved outcome||Explanation|
|15 participants||18 participants||Sixteen Wikimedians from eleven different language communities (hi, gu, gom, en, kn, ta, pa, bn, te, mr, or) and two staff members from the Community Programs team, participated in the conference. Four of the eighteen participants (22%) were women.|
|4 organisers||4 organisers||Four users (KCVelaga, Manavpreet Kaur, Subodh (CIS-A2K), Shypoetess) were involved in the planning and overall organising of the event. We used a Phabricator work-board to coordinate tasks between the organisers, and it was quite helpful. CIS-A2K team provided the necessary financial, programmatic, and logistics support whenever needed.|
|1 new TWL branch/Reference Desk/Source Sharing||—||While making the grant proposal, the goal was to have at least one new TWL branch or a reference desk or a source sharing page, on any of the language Wikipedias. However, from the conversations during the conference, it was realised that instead of having an individual page on various Wikipedians, it is better one cross-community page for resource exchange.|
|Two 1lib1ref sessions||Three 1lib1ref sessions||1lib1ref sessions are important not only to outreach Wikipedia/TWL to librarians but also for Wikimedia communities to realise the importance of citations. Many of the Indian-language Wikipedias don't have/follow policies of references/citations or reliability of different sources. But several communities are putting efforts to develop the culture quality content which means that the content should be well cited. In this regard, 1lib1ref sessions can be an effective way to emphasize the importance of citations to Wikimedians every now and then. Over a period of time, it will have to be of benefit to the communities.
After the conference in the first week of January 2019, three users organised three sessions in various locations. The details of these are as follows:
|–||Two satellite events||
During the very initial planning, we did not have the idea of having satellite events before the main conference. This idea was proposed by User:Pavan santhosh.s as we were close to the event dates. We helped to conduct two satellite events during the week before the conference, in Hyderabad (22 Dec 2018) and Pune (26 Dec 2018).
Please share a brief update about the status projects, important discussions and/or capacity building that took place at the event.
- Were any significant issues your community discussed at the conference?
|Activities during the conference
(5–6 January 2019)
|2 months after the conference|
(as of 10 March 2019)
- Please list capacity building sessions or workshops.
|Activities during the conference
(5–6 January 2019)
|2 months after the conference|
(as of 10 March 2019)
|Since the overall objective of this conference was more discussion-oriented, the program itself didn't have much focus on training the participants. However, we did have a few sessions during which various tools were demonstrated. These include Citation Hunt, Inventaire, and also a walkthrough of The Wikipedia Library Card Platform. OpenRefine was appreciated by some participants, they were interested to work on bibliographic data, but since we only got a couple of hours to demonstrate it during the open session, it was not well-received by the participants.||KCVelaga and Satdeep Gill conducted a short online training session on OpenRefine for four people on 21 January 2019. Due to time constraint, only a few GREL expressions were discussed, but not the basics. People who attended the session mentioned that they need to learn the basics as well. We are considering the requirement and feasibility to conduct a session, right from the basics in May/June 2019.|
Projects or Working Groups
- What are the most important projects that were started or improved during the conference?
|Activities during the conference
(5–6 January 2019)
|2 months after the conference|
(as of 10 March 2019)
Projects do not always go according to plan. Sharing what you learned can help you and others plan similar projects in the future. Help the movement learn from your experience by answering the following questions:
What worked well at the event?
- The program had a good composition of invited talks by experts from various fields, discussions, and demonstrations. Invited talks by various experts from the librarian community significantly contributed to the program's success. In addition to that, some of the experts participated in the subsequent brainstorming activities and also held individual conversations with Wikimedians. These helped several Wikimedians to clarify their doubts regarding libraries and library outreach in India. Having them in this program will help to pursue collaborations in the future.
- Dividing into the group during the brainstorming session "Wikimedia and Libraries in India" and assigning a specific topic to each of them to discuss helped to achieve better outcomes, and have clear action points for followup. This approach was also helpful in better networking among the participants.
- The application screening process was vital to the success of the event in that it brought like-minded Wikimedians together, which translated to no shortage of ideas and knowledge in the realm of Wikimedia and libraries.
- The conference was successful in creating notable awareness about TWL among Indian Wikimedians, and in turn to the communities. Some participants didn't know about various other programs by TWL apart from access to paywalled journals, such as 1lib1ref and resource exchange. Some weren't aware of how libraries work/think about Wikimedia, and how we can utilise their resources. The program had a good mix of sessions and talks to deal with both the ends.
- Venue and logistics
- Having Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics associated for this event can be observed as a major advantage and contributed in numerous ways to the success of the program. The institute offered venue as an in-kind donation, and also offered accommodation at very reasonable prices.
- Due to the in-kind donations as mentioned in the above point, helped us spend the funds in other areas such as increased participation and organising satellite events before the main conference.
- Using a Phabricator workboard was helpful to manage tasks between the organisers and also use to track the status of follow-up activities.
- Participants' expertise could potentially be exploited in organising the event, and must never be under-estimated. This significantly reduces the workload of organisers and gives them the room necessary for other equally important assignments.
- AVasanth (WMF) and Samwalton9 (WMF) have written a blog post, titled India’s Wikimedia communities adopt the Wikipedia Library to their own contexts focusing on this conference, and the scenarios that led to it. It helped to feature our work to the global Wikimedia community, and help them understand the work we have been doing.
What did not work so well?
- The overall program seemed so packed from minute to minute. Though in some sessions we completed earlier to the planned time, it didn't work the same way for all sessions, there were some ups and down.
- The "Welcome activity" went over the scheduled time. This mainly happened as we let initial introductions to go on, without a heads-up on time limit. This made to the later introductions to be cut short. As participants had been traveling on the same day, it was exhausting as well.
- The program's objective was to introduce TWL to various Indian communities and also at the same time, build sustainable connections and plan for collaboration with libraries in India. The resources to achieve that goal were not brought in into this project. The program lacked consistent external expertise. Though experts in and around Pune were invited, they were not able to stay through the whole program. Only a couple of the four invited on Day 1 were able to participate in the "Wikimedia and Libraries" discussion, which was one of the most important sessions of the program.
- Visit to BORI did not as per the original plan. The participants were split into two groups to visit the Institute on Day 1 & 2. But only the group who attended Day 2 were able to interact with the officials and get a sneak peek into their work.
- Venue and logistics
- Owing to budgetary constraints, the food only contained vegetarian options. This was not welcoming for a few participants.
- The venue and the accommodation were a kilometer apart. But ideally, the venue and the accommodation could have been in the same place.
- The conference hall was slightly congested, and there was considerable friction in moving around.
- The idea of conducting satellite events before the main conference was very good, and it helped us to have more voices involved. But since this was realized very late, we were only able to a couple of satellite events (in Hyderabad and in Pune). Participants opined that had they had more time, they could have done a few more satellite events.
- The application form was only made available in English. Though translating and providing links to ten language forms would be tedious work to do, and also evaluating the responses in non-English languages may not be within the ability of selection panel. Having said that, having the form only in English caused hindrance in understanding to some applicants, and were not able to substantial responses that would help the selection panel to assess their potential to participate in the program. This was the main reason for there zero representation from some communities.
What would you do differently next time?
- Having a three days program could have been better, but that would require significant increase in the number and diversity of the participants—such as more invited experts from other parts of the country. That would contribute to building connections with librarians across the country and also add more value to the discussions.
- To kickstart the momentum for the first time, this scale and scope seemed right. But if this was to be scaled, an extensive community consultation would be conducted, and the participant group will be more diverse in terms of background, such as Wikimedians, librarians, researchers etc.
- While individual contributions are important, it's equally (sometimes more) important to recognise the contributions of a community or a group as a whole – the application process could have better embraced such efforts.
- Early planning would help in avoiding the hassle and the compromises that have to be made when the event is only a month away. Last-minute changes, how tempting it might be, should be avoided.
Financial documentation 
Grant funds spent
Please describe how much grant money you spent for approved expenses, and tell us what you spent it on.
|1||Travel (from and to Pune)||₹65,158.00||Apart from this, CIS-A2K sponsored flight tickets for seven participants, totalling to ₹66,101|
|2||Travel (within Pune, and airport transfers)||₹9,713.00||Eight rooms for sixteen participants on twin sharing basis for three nights|
|Total expenditure (from the rapid grant)||₹143,076.00|
|Total amount received from WMF||₹141,587.00||₹413 of the approved ₹142,000.00 were deducted as bank charges for internaional transfer|
|Underspent funds||₹0||₹1,489.00 were overspent|
Do you have any remaining grant funds?
- No, we don't have any remaining grant funds.
Feedback from participants
Of the eighteen participants, fifteen gave their responses to the anonyous feedback form. The responses have been summarised in this section.
- How satisfied were you with the event?
- How relevant and helpful do you think it was for you/your community?
- What were your key takeaways from this event?
The main thing I got some idea about the partnership which I was thinking. How to work with those partners and in which way we can explain them about TWL.
The fact that before we start thinking of access to different sources, the Indic communities should first start writing articles from scratch and start feeling that they need access to more sources.
TWL is a unique and impressive project with a lot of scope in future. If developed proactively, this can be turning point in bringing libraries and Wikimedia to collaborate for fruitful partnerships in the coming time. The paid journals collaborating with TWL is the ongoing success that can be made even more successful by encouraging local Indic language Wikipedia to improve their contest.
Citations are the backbone of Wikipedia and Libraries/Librarians can play a major role in providing the resources and expertise. Therefore, we need to introduce more and more librarians to Wikipedia and steps like, Resource Exchange, Digitization of Libraries and #1Lib1Ref not only help improve Wikipedia but also attract librarians towards editing.
The Indian community is very positive about the growth of the program, TWL has to be redefined to fit the Indian community and the need for resources to accommodate the redefinition.
I largely spent my editing time on English Wikipedia. So I come from its perspective towards quality content and sources, and the the role of TWL in that regards. However, this conference made me understand the ground realities of various Indian Wikipedians. It made things clear for me, to understand what wi;l work, what won't in India, over the coming 2–3 years. This understanding will help to do better and plan relevant activities or projects for the communities.
More information about TWL, case studies of libraries and their involvement with Wikimedia projects and an inspiration to work for TWL in my city, Kolkata.
- How satisfied were you with the application process and logistics?
- Additional feedback on logistics and application process (if any)
Selection of sharing of room with a fellow wikimedian should be decided with mutual consent of both wikimedians and the organising team, should not be pre-selected by the organisers.
Though I understand the budget was very limited for this event. I would prefer the non-veg options to be considered for food.
- Which sessions did you find most relevant?
- Other sessions and their relevance (if any)
Speaking to GIPE librarian
Citation hunt, Importance of citations and future of references were very relavant.
The visit to Digital Library of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) was very interesting.
Dr. Sunita Barve was very useful as we learned many technical things related to libraries. I didn't find Madhav Gadgil's lecture relevant, because we all participants already aware about the importance of references.
Non-formal meet-ups or rendezvous with fellow participants where we discussed and share ideas/issues.
- What do you think worked well?
Group discussions worked well I felt. With expert like Ashwin gave really good feedback on ideas.
Conducting it in a relevant institution, satellite events.
Inviting the people directly involved in libraries and prospective partners was a good call and the presentations given by them were exemplary.
1) Venue: Gokhale Institute of Politics & Economics, with its great digital collection was an ideal venue for the event. 2) Accommodation: Was close to the venue & hygienic. 3) Invited talks: Listening to their side of the story was very important to understand how to bridge the gap between librarians/academicians and Wikipedia. 4) Demos for CitationHunt and Wikicite were very useful. It will be a lot easier to use them now. 5) Open Session: It gave us time to discuss our ideas and formulate action plans for future.
Learning about OpenRefine, Inventaire.
The conclusion for planning commons RX page and planning 1Lib1Ref event.
The venue and the overall program went well. This has been the first time the Indian communities have tried something like this. I think it all went good to kickstart some momentum.
- What not so well?
Duration of the conference: Two days didn’t seem enough to nicely cover all the areas of the conference. Addition of a day to the schedule could have given us more time at the institutional visits and the demo sessions could have been converted to hands on sessions.
Open session didn't go well.
Not sure if community would accept TWL, although event cannot be blamed for the same.
We did't get any useful output from our visit to BORI.
There was no audio/video recording of TWLCon 2019, next time, it should taken care of, as it will be beneficial for Wikimedians who didn't able to participate in the event.
Failing to take into account group contributions.
The program seemed too packed for two days. Also we missed the external expertise. Though we did get some experts, they did not stay for too long.
- Any overall feedback for the event?
With minimum fund it works well. but give less south Indians's contributors is not good.
It was a good start and it might prove helpful to the larger Indic communities in the future.
Great initiative and a learning event, would love to have a follow-up call or a library centric mailing list.
We need to reach to the libraries of India which have rich collections of books. We also need to involve some editors who are associated with universities or libraries.