Now you're ready to start exploring, experimenting, organizing, expanding and making an impact. It's time for projects.
This page will give you guidance on several possible programs to run. Keep in mind that you might find better ways to do these, or adapt them to your particular community and context. Or – and we hope you will – you might develop a completely innovative model that has never been tried before. Be bold, work together, and your growth will follow.
Click on each project to get more details about it, or go to the expanded guide to read through everything at once.
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Many reliable sources are not free for the public to access; you have to pay to read them. This means that Wikipedia editors are often developing articles without the highest-quality sources available. By partnering with journals, databases, and publishers you can give editors access to the best sources that they need to write high-quality articles.
First you identify which resources are needed and wanted by your community, and then it's time to approach potential partners. Here's a toolkit for doing that:
Before you begin you need to make sure that you are able to protect the private information (real names, email addresses, shipping addresses if needed) of your editing community. Coordinators who are managing these partnerships must have signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Wikimedia Foundation.
All Library branches should link to their available signup pages on Meta, so visit the Meta Database Index to update the listing of signup pages.
People: One volunteer per donation is a good rule for initial donations. Scaling beyond a few donations requires creating various coordinator roles such as Partner Outreach, Account Distribution, and Metrics Tracking.
Skills: Donations require the ability to pitch the value of Wikipedia to a partner and develop that relationship, the ability to develop and track on-wiki pages, and the management of account distribution processes
Time: Establishing a donation can take as short as a couple of weeks with very few hours, or long as several months at up to 5 hours a week when making initial connections with publishers. Management requires up to a month or two for setup and distribution, at 2–5 hours a week. Tracking usage of the accounts requires a few hours per month.
Visiting Scholars are top editors who are given access to a university or research library's online resources and support services. In exchange for this access, they write articles about that institution's areas of interest or collections. These positions are generally unpaid and not 'in-residence' (editors are acting as volunteers, can be remote, and aren't responsible for outreach). Historically, the project started with "Wikipedia Visiting Scholars", but other Wikimedia projects, such as Wikidata or Wikisource, could also benefit from this kind of collaboration with libraries.
Unlike Access Donations, which give many editors access to a single source, the Visiting Scholars program gives a single editor access to many sources. That is the big benefit or partnering with a university: they already have the sources editors need. Creating these partnerships strengthens the conversation with these partners, while rewarding editors for their contributions to the community.
Many different universities and research libraries have a history of giving select researchers "affiliate" or "visiting" status. The same happens in this program. Instead of doing research for original publications, however, Visiting Scholars use the access to improve Wikimedia projects!
Visiting Scholars are a great way to partner and build connections with universities. While the main purpose is gaining access to write content, there are also opportunities for online talks, webinars, training, consultation with professors and librarians, or even visits for events. These are not expected, but they're a neat bonus.
We have two guides to help you that you can copy and adapt:
People: Small team of 1–3 volunteers to coordinate outreach and follow up with individual organizations.
Skills: Understanding of research library needs and resources; communication skills; outreach and coordination skills.
Time: Initial setup: 10–20 hours of prep and identification of potential partners. 30–90 minutes per recruited and onboarded partner, depending on level of readiness of partner. Subsequent maintenance time is minimal.
One of the best ways to increase access to resources throughout a Wikimedia community is to capitalize on the access people already have. To this end, a Resource Exchange or Resource Share project allows users to request access to critical research materials, and for users with access to those materials to send them to the interested editors. This model follows the practices of collaborative research communities the world over.
People: Initially the development of such a page can involve one volunteer who has access to sources in demand and can encourage editors to use the space; however, to ensure that a resource exchange is both prompt and active, a community of editors with access to resources will need to be established.
Skills: on-wiki communication and community development skills; ability to monitor on-wiki exchanges using watchlist; and experience facilitating discussions on wiki.
Time: Though the time investment on this is as little or as much as you make it, there are some expected time commitments: initially set up and localization will probably require 2–4 hours, and a further 2–4 hours of communication and encouragement of editors to use and participate in the exchange. Subsequent maintenance is low, based on the number of resource requests and subsequent number of resource providers supporting the page.
Community libraries are locations for editors to record what hard-to-access resources they have access to and are willing to share with other editors. These resources might include physical research materials, like print books, digital research materials, like paywalled databases, or location-based resources, like access to research libraries.
People: Initially the development of such a page can involve one volunteer who has a set of resources that they would be willing to help others use, and who can encourage editors to use the space; however, to ensure that project develops and expands, several people will need to be involved.
Skills: on-wiki communication and community development skills; ability to monitor on-wiki exchanges using watchlist, and experience facilitating discussions on wiki.
Time: Though the time investment on this is as little or as much as you make it, there are some expected time commitments: initially set up and localization will probably require 2–4 hours, and 3–6 hours of communication and encouragement of editors to use and participate in the exchange. Subsequent maintenance is low.
There are many reliable sources already available for free online, but they can sometimes be difficult to discover. A Free Resources List collects these sources in one place, often organized by subject area.
People: Initially the development of such a page can involve one volunteer with an awareness of available resources; however, to ensure that project develops and expands, several people will need to be involved.
Skills: awareness of available resources; on-wiki communication and community development skills; experience facilitating discussions on wiki.
Time: Though the time investment on this is as little or as much as you make it, initially set up and localization will probably require 1–3 hours, and 2–4 hours of communication and encouragement of editors to use and participate in the exchange. Subsequent maintenance is low.
Many national libraries or research communities have created ways for citizens or researchers to access paywalled databases and other library services. For example, the National Library of Australia has many major research databases available for use by all people living in Australia. However, in many situations, this requires some type of registration process, or paperwork, that might be hard for editors to complete on their own, without the help of a fellow Wikipedian who understands that process. To help Wikipedians find this access, we recommend creating an access guide to simplify the process of obtaining access.
People: The development of such a page can involve one volunteer, who sets up and communicates the availability of the instructions for access. To ensure that the resource is regularly used, it should be linked to from places on-wiki that are frequently used for research, and shared with people who are likely to communicate the resource.
Skills: Knowledge of the processes required for getting institutional access; on-wiki communication skills; ability to monitor on-wiki.
Time: The time investment on this should be minimal: initially setup and localization will probably require 1–2 hours, and 2–3 hours of communication and encouragement of editors to make use of this resource. Subsequent maintenance is low.
Enlist volunteer support and onboard volunteers
Branches run best with a team! Once you've got your basic pages set up, announce your branch to your community and ask others to join in and help out. At first a small team will likely handle many roles at once, but over time it helps to give volunteers an active and clear role to play in the branch.
When you discover new volunteers, make sure to discuss with your new volunteer what their strengths are and how much time they are able to commit to the library – usually 1–2 hours per week is a good target. If they will handle user's private information, they will need to sign a non-disclosure agreement. You can then train volunteers to follow the processes in place for your branch.
We recommend recruiting volunteers to fill specific roles so that they know what their responsibilities are in the project. Some potential volunteer roles include:
project organizer: plan the big picture, guide volunteers, start experiments, and lead programs
account coordinator: help manage a specific donation by screening applicants, distributing accounts, and troubleshoot any issues
outreach coordinator: connect to university libraries, archives, and other GLAM institutions
partner coordinator: contacts potential publisher partners to ask for donations
research coordinator: run reference services on-wiki to help people do research and get answers
People: One person should be able to manage outreach and discovery of new. One person, who doesn't have to be the same person, can manage onboarding initially; if the branch becomes more complex you may choose to divide training responsibilities between coordinators.
Skills: Ability to find and recruit volunteers, the management of volunteer allocation and tasks, and supervisory skills.
Time: Depending on availability and role, onboarding a volunteer can take as little as a few hours or as long as a few weeks. Support and supervision requires a few hours per month.
Open access (OA) is the right and freedom to read research, generally online, and ideally with the ability to reuse it without restraint. Gratis OA is that freedom to read without payment, and Libre OA is the full freedom to read and reuse. Learn more with this guide.
While The Wikipedia Library has been successful in receiving donations to paywalled (closed-access) resources, we support the broader move towards open access. We recognize that a modern library should help editors find and use open-access resources, because they are increasing in number and quality, and because they provide an optimal experience for readers of the encyclopedia when they try and verify the sources used on Wikipedia.
A library needs people and community to be effective. That involves communicating both within the Wikimedia projects and externally to a broader library audience.
It can be challenging to keep editors aware of available Wikipedia Library resources. The projects have a variety of communication tools, and you will need to use a combination of approaches to reach the largest number of editors. Some communities use off-wiki platforms as well, like Facebook groups, mailing lists, and real-life meetups. Do some research on your community to find out where the talking happens!
Growing a library means building connections with the broader community of professionals and thinkers. To do this, you need to go off-wiki. Think about fora where cultural professionals gather.
Talk page messages: These can be sent out individually, or in large numbers using MassMessage
Noticeboard posts: Use the most-visited and most-relevant noticeboards on your project for new announcements. Also look for projects that are focused on content creation, such as "Featured articles", "Good articles", or "Did You Know" projects. A message to the those projects' talk pages may be useful.
Watchlist notices: These are messages that appear above the "watchlist" for logged-in editors. A watchlist notice is a very effective way to notify experienced editors because they check it often. Some projects, however, do not have watchlist notices enabled.
CentralNotice banners: This is a MediaWiki tool that allows a "banner"-type message to appear above all pages. It can be set to display messages only to certain projects, to editors in a specific geographical area, to those with a specific edit count, or other settings. Be aware of this powerful tool, and only use it with the help of someone experienced.
Newsletters: An on-wiki newsletter like Books & Bytes published every 1, 2, or 3 months is a good way to keep your community informed and engaged with the Library project. Editors can subscribe to get talk page delivery of the newsletter, which can be delivered with MassMessage.
Blogs: A blog post is a great way to communicate a longer or more involved story. It is a good way to promote your project within the broader movement, and outside audiences as well. Take tips from the TWL Blog Guide and help your editors tell their stories.
Meetups: Attend local meetups when possible, and let others know about the Library and its ongoing projects.
Patrick Earley at the WMF can help you with communication strategies and tips for using the tools.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc: Create accounts on the major social media services and follow folks active in the field. Post and repost at least a few links each week in order to stay noticed.
External blogs: Don't forget that what you're doing may be of interest to other blogs related to digital libraries, open access, GLAM, and cultural outreach. Think about 'cross-posting' your updates on these blogs once you've introduced yourself to their curators.
Library, Academic, GLAM and Open Knowledge Conferences: In the library world a lot of important relationships are built and ideas are spread at events. Attending these events and giving a presentation about your project(s) is one of the best ways to bring on new collaborators and allies from the broader field. Keep a schedule of nearby and important events, submit talks by the submission deadlines, apply for travel funding to attend when needed, and follow-up on the connections you build when you get home.
People: One person can handle communications at the start; collaboration may be necessary as the project expands. It is helpful to have administrator rights for this process; tools like MassMessage are usually only available to admins
Skills: Communication skills – strong writing ability, professional tone, and timeliness. Experience with some of the communication tools is good to have, but this can be built over time
Time: Communication is more involved at certain times, such as when you are rolling out a new resource. Otherwise, tasks can be scheduled, and shouldn't average more than five to ten hours a month
Any good program keeps track of what it's doing and how it's working so that it can adapt and grow in response to results from projects and feedback from the community.
Each project you do should have some way to answer the question, "Is it working?" Deeper questions matter too, like "How is it working?" and "How is it not working?" A mix of quantitative numbers and qualitative comments can give you a good sense of this and help you plan and learn.
One example, Journal donations:
Survey editors to find out which sources they desire most. Add up the !votes and pursue those with most demand
Count the total number of partners you have, the total number of accounts they've donated, the total number of people who signed up, and the total number who received access (note that WMF currently does this centrally)
Check in after 4–6 months to survey editors about the source they are using, how much they are using it, how useful it is to them, etc.
Other projects should also be documented, for example:
Resource Exchange (Share): How many requests came in, how many were successfully delivered
Visiting Scholars or Interns: How many institutions were involved, how many positions/classes were filled, how many articles were created, how much content (bytes) was added
Reference Desk: How many questions were asked, how many users visited/edited the page, how many pageviews are there for each month
While each situation is different, here is a general approach for working with metrics
Identify key metrics
Identify main tools available for collecting metrics
Develop tracking documentation
Regularly update metric tracking materials
Communicate metrics to key stakeholders
Analyze the metrics to iterate and improve processes
An important point to note is that there are sometimes metrics that you wish you had or need, but that you can't collect because a tool or survey just can't capture that data. If that's the case, get as close as you can with a "substitute metric" and investigate the possibility of building or improving a tool which can do it.
People: One or two volunteers should be enough: the English Wikipedia Library branch tracks all of the metrics for its 35+ publisher partnerships through one volunteer operating at 3–6 hours a week. Other metrics for other programs are limited-time activities which are tracked only occasionally during the course of a programs.
Skills: familiarity with tools on- and off-wiki for tracking pageviews, link usage, and contributions; knowledge of basic spreadsheet functionality; ability to interpret and communicate basic changes in metrics
Time: metrics time scales with number of partnerships and programs. The greatest time intensity is defining and establishing processes for metrics tracking – estimate each new metric to require 4–5 hours of prep both exploring tools and creating documentation. Established metrics processes require regular maintenance and communication of those metrics (5–10 hours a month for several partnerships, scaling up as partnerships and other programs grow).
The Wikimedia and libraries communities have developed a number of tools for researching, citing, and tracking metrics, as well as larger library infrastructure projects. To run a Library branch, you might need to overcome a technical obstacle or develop a tool to reduce the workload.
For example, the English Wikipedia Library branch discovered several key technical needs, and has worked with different communities to fix them:
Library Card Platform: We discovered that our publishing partnerships were taking too much manpower to distribute and manage
Special:ExternalLinkChange ( https://phabricator.wikimedia.org/T102064 ): We discovered that we could not give publishing partners clear metrics on how editors used their access. We also recognized how other programs like GLAM-Wiki would like to know who is referencing their sources.
Citation Hunt (https://tools.wmflabs.org/citationhunt/): We discovered that this tool already existed to support English-language communities in finding [Citation Needed] statements. We reached out to the developer to internationalize the concept, to support campaigns like #1lib1ref .
As you consider developing a tool for your context, we recommend reaching out to the Wikipedia Library team wikipedialibrarywikimediaorg or to a programs coordinator at your local affiliate. Frequently these teams will be aware of how to find resources and support for your idea, or will know about solutions already available in other communities.
Identify a problem that needs to be solved by a tech tool
Explore existing tools and ask around to your local community, to figure out if there is a technical intervention that is already available for your own language Wikipedia or for another language. We recommend trying the following, if at all possible:
If a tool is available in another language, approach the developer or maintainer about internationalizing it
If a tool does something similar to what you need, approach the developer or maintainer for expanding its functionality
Sometimes you will not be able to find existing Wikimedia tools that provide the function you need. If that is the case:
Scope the tool: describe the problem and the simplest solution to solving the problem
Identify other audiences that can benefit from the tool: if you can persuade developers and other parts of your community that they will benefit from the tool, there is a greater likelihood that organizations and people will contribute to its development
People: One person to identify the problem, scope the project, and guide it through various bits of outreach. A developer proficient in the kind of tool building you need.
Skills: Outreach, creative design and project management, alongside a software development skills that are appropriate for the problem.
Time: Tool development is particularly time intensive, especially if you are not a programmer. Expect any tool project to take at least a couple months of exploring existing approaches, finding collaborators, and building.
Resources: Typically resource investment is low: WMF Labs provides a hosting environment for community tools, and volunteer software development can be inexpensive. However, if the tool development requires paid work, this becomes more complicated: consider applying for a grant with an Affiliate or the WMF, through processes like Grants:IEG
Academic libraries, special collections, research centers, and other GLAM organizations often have a mission alignment with Wikipedia: they are interested in disseminating human knowledge and furthering engagement with educational organizations, like Wikimedia.
You can adapt the portal at University Libraries Guide to make a case for collaboration and create a 'menu' of possible collaborations and projects. Creating a lists of programs with evaluation of their outcomes and resources helps interested universities/GLAMs to identify a program that helps fit both their organizational mission and resource availability (in a way similar to this guide).
You can also target guides at specific groups in the community, such as Archivists:
People: GLAM-EDU outreach can be very lightweight if you just create resource pages and do simple communication, or it can be more intensive, developing advising and feedback systems to support programs at the GLAM-EDU organizations. These programs are best executed by a small team of collaborators (2–5) with experience communicating with educational and cultural organizations, though they can be initially supported by a single person.
Skills: Understanding of GLAM-Wiki; understanding of Wikipedia Education Program approach; understanding of university and cultural professionals; translation and written-communication; outreach skills.
Time: Translating the various resource guides into your own language should require a limited amount of time up front (3–5 hours just once); reaching out to academic libraries to create long-lasting programs requires much more time to identify the potential partners, learn their needs, and provide support for developing those programs (more than 5 hours per month).
Libraries frequently provide a "reference desk" for their patrons. In traditional library settings, physical reference desks allow patrons, researchers, and members of the public to approach and ask both informational and research-related questions. As the internet has grown more important, libraries have opened up digital reference as well, typically via email or chat. Wikipedia can become another place to answer such reference questions.
On many of the large Wikipedias, there is a long history of reference desks staffed by volunteers (for example, on English or see the others on Wikidata). On Hebrew Wikipedia, the National Library of Israel provided a similar desk that allowed Wikipedia editors to directly interact with the library (see the documentation on Outreach Wiki). Similarly, as an extension of the outreach to the Catalan Public Library Network (see discussion below), the Catalan community is providing such a desk that relies on the expertise of the whole network.
People: One on-wiki coordinator, to establish pages and communicate their presence; one library coordinator to ensure that librarians respond to questions; cooperation from other library staff in answering the questions
Skills: Effective communication of Wikipedia's process and discussion system to a library audience; effective outreach skills; regular on-wiki presence to monitor reference desk.
Time: The initial establishment of pages is lightweight, taking very limited time; recruiting a library partner and developing an effective strategy for training/engaging the library staff takes significant time, unless that relationship is already established.
One of the best ways to develop relationships with libraries and library professional is to provide training for them to learn both about Wikipedia's practices and its implications for the larger professional community. Because librarians often share similar goals to the Wikipedia community, helping the public learn and sharing open knowledge, they often become strong advocates for the community. You can reach out to university students, Library Interns, library professionals or affiliated volunteers.
The Wikipedia Library has developed an 'interns' program targeted at student employees, using two pieces of documentation:
People: We recommend at least one coordinator responsible for curriculum development and management, and 1–3 additional helpers to support with outreach, on and off-wiki support of each ongoing class
Skills: Effective communication of Wikipedia's value to students; understanding of library audience and context; effective outreach skills; regular on-wiki presence to help new editors
Time: Development of curriculum can be intensive, requiring dozens of hours to develop, but adapting an existing curriculum will significantly reduce the time investment. Outreach to attract new Interns is about 1 hour per library professional.
Librarians, as a community, tend to favor activities and best practices that are accepted among their communities of practice or professional networks. Moreover, libraries and librarians have been really receptive to the impacts of Wikipedia on patron research and the broader needs of public knowledge. Professional network campaigns are a movement strategy, where we take advantage of the established professional communities to identify potential adopters of Wikipedia-related programs.
Organizations like library associations, consortia (such as the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO)), or Library Systems (such as Catalonia's Network of Public Libraries) are valuable allies for expanding the impact of Wikimedia outreach. These organizations can multiply impact of programming because they often have a) a captive audience and b) sufficient authority to create standards for that community. These organizations, once committed to the programming, have a multiplier effect: scaling the impact beyond what volunteers can support. The best documented example of a network adapting GLAM-Wiki strategies for library or library networks is the outreach by Amical Wikimedia with the Catalonia Network of Public Libraries. Using the support and infrastructure of this network, they were able to support over 100 libraries after 3 years of activities, doing a wide variety of outreach activities. Similarly, METRO used a Wikipedian in Residence to expand the New York City area network and community of practice: en:Wikipedia:GLAM/METRO.
Support development of programs at "early adopting" organizations. Note that most networks will have a small group of people willing to experiment with the first couple programming attempts; once they demonstrate the impact, other adopters will follow.
Create and support space for early adopting organizations to share with network – the Catalan network created an on-wiki space
Support library network interactions with interactions with the community
Scale projects so that the librarians are teaching their peers at other libraries (rather than relying heavily on other volunteers)
Developing these projects have historically required a large investment of energy from the local community, usually in the form of chapter support or a WIR (or similar lead volunteer), as well as from the organization.
People: We recommend at least one coordinator responsible for long-term management of the partnership: this could be in the form of a chapter lead, Wikipedian in Residence or a volunteer lead willing to support the project long-term; similarly, the partner organization should have at least one staff willing and able to manage the relationship; additional community managers, helpers to support with outreach, and other volunteers and partner org sponsors of course are a plus.
Skills: Effective communication of Wikipedia's value to libraries; understanding of organizational dynamics of partner organizations; patience with partner decision makers;
Time: Note that these projects are often long-term, thus require long-period commitments from both partner and volunteer; outreach and workshops time investment is largely based on the scale of workshop or event; in the Catalan case study, it took nearly 2–3 years before librarians were largely self sustaining the projects, and still requires intervention and support from the local user group.
In many contexts, both librarians and their patrons are trying to engage with each other via social media. Engaging with libraries, publishers or research support communities (like Open Access advocates) strengthens the overall impact of Wikipedia outreach in your local context.
Annually, the Wikipedia Library hosts the #1Lib1Ref campaign in January to encourage libraries to engage with Wikipedia, and become more comfortable with Wikipedia as part of the research ecosystem. For more information about what we learned from the campaign, see The Wikipedia Library/1Lib1Ref/Lessons. Other social campaigns are regularly hosted by the Wikimedia community, such as Wiki Loves Monuments, Wiki Loves Earth, and en:WP:ArtAndFeminism. Libraries are excellent hosts for in-person events related to these kinds of campaigns.
Identify a simple contribution strategy for participants in the campaign to engage with the Wikimedia community. For #1lib1ref , we gave instructions for participants to fix the "Citation needed" backlog using the tool Citation Hunt
Create a campaign page, with simple and instructive messaging that both a) helps convince participants that they should engage and b) gives them instructions on how to engage
Begin letting community organizers and partner organizations know that the campaign will be happening.
Start the conversation on social media, drawing attention to the campaign and preparing potential participants.
During the campaign, push the conversation to followers, asking them to share and develop the conversation in their own communities on- and offline.
Endorse and support conversations on social media about the campaign. Be ready to flexibly share supportive messages from followers and improvise on a theme.
Review the impact of the campaign, both tracking the social media and the activities on-wiki. Note: you may have to create a tracking strategy; we recommend using edit summary hashtags (to track hashtags, use the hashtag tracking tool on ToolLabs).
People: At least one person with a significant social media following in the target community. That person can run most of the campaign. However, consulting a small team to develop the communications helps with clarity of the material and diversity of messages. The more collaborators and advocates throughout the Wikimedia community and its partners, the further the campaign will travel.
Skills: Social media management, strong writing skills, understanding of "microcontributions" in your context, effective communications, knowledge of effective tracking tools for social media and Wikimedia projects.
Time: preparations will begin at least 2–3 months before the campaign, with 30+ hours of work designing the communications and campaign page during that initial window of development time. During the campaign proper, you likely need a small team (2–4) of people actively supporting the social conversation on various platforms. If the call to action and instructions to participate are designed well, this kind of support may only require 5–10 hours a work from that small team. Be ready to respond to design problems during the campaign where clarifications or changes to the campaign resources may be required. After the campaign, significant document and follow up with the outreach leads created by the participation of organizers – this time commitment varies based on how complicated collecting outcomes is.