Long term impact of Wikimedians in Residence (2018)/impact of WIRs/reach of collections

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WIR has extended the reach of collections to new audiences

As foreseen in the design of the WIR programme, partnering with Wikimedia and sharing institution’s collections has significantly increased the reach of content, facilitated by a significant increase in the volume of images and data uploaded. This effect grows as time goes on. Seeing the potential reach of collections when working with Wikimedia is a powerful argument for openness:

Wikipedia is ‘where the light is’, so it makes sense to put the collections there. Digitised and derivative works have had far more views than original works. E.g images uploaded from books (not the books themselves) are being viewed now, where anecdotal evidence suggests that many of the books have not been taken out before.
-- Mahendra Mahey (Head of British Library Labs, involved in the WIR project), impact interview July 2017


The stats of images reused on Wikipedia (released during the residency) are being counted via BagLAMa alongside YouTube views and uses on Internet Archive. These increased numbers are mentioned a lot within the organisation in different contexts, even in conversations with the government.
-- Gill Hamilton (Digital Access Manager, National Library of Scotland, WIR’s line manager), impact interview June 2017

Two examples demonstrate the reach being illustrated here. During the residency at the National Library of Scotland (Jul 2013-Mar 2015) around 1,200 images were uploaded to Commons; this opportunity arose partly because the Library was relicensing materials at the time and exploring new ways of sharing its content. In the 44 months since May 2014, images from the Library have been seen a total of 96 million times; the number of views has increased year-on year (2014 - 10.7 million; 2015 - 14.3; 2016 - 33.7; 2017 - 37.3).

The Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums residency (Ap 2013-Jun 2013) involved uploading files to Wikimedia Commons. Since the residency TWAM made greater use of Creative Commons licensing on their Flickr stream, allowing a volunteer to import those images to Wikimedia Commons. This has led to a greater reach for the images, with an accumulated 71 million views since 2012.

Those already impressive figures only capture the reach on Wikimedia projects, while the likelihood is that the content got exposure on external sites as well.

The impact of greater access to information is not just a notional benefit to the host institution’s outreach metrics. It can go much further and influence global awareness of major issues:

There are many man-made pressures on the natural world, species are becoming extinct at 10,000 times the background extinction rate. Education can help to change this situation, to engender understanding and empathy for the natural world. Wikipedia is a powerful tool to educate people about the natural world and man’s effects upon it, there are around 400 million pageviews a month of articles about species on English language Wikipedia.
-- John Cummings (Wikimedian in Residence, Natural History Museum), residency final report May 2014

Recent research by Neil Thompson and Douglas Hanley shows that the content of Wikipedia can influence the production of scientific knowledge. Thompson argues that adding information to Wikipedia is a cost-effective and important way of increasing the impact of research.