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Books & Bytes
Issue 36, September–October 2019

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In this issue we highlight #1Lib1Ref, global developments and, as always, a roundup of news and community items related to libraries and digital knowledge.


Join us again in 2020 for #1Lib1Ref from January 15th to February 5th and don't forget to bring your friends! #1Lib1Ref is a time that we work together around the world to make Wikipedia more reliable. You can participate in #1Lib1Ref by simply adding a citation to Wikipedia's content! All we ask and imagine: a world in which every librarian (or archivist, reference professional, and scholar) adds 1 more reference to Wikipedia. This is the fifth year of the #1Lib1Ref campaign and we couldn’t be more excited to support another year of activities.

If you are planning to host a coffee hour or a edit-a-thon focused on #1Lib1Ref, and you need funding for the event, you will be able to apply for a Rapid Grant. For the best chance of approval, requests should be made in the month of November, since requests related to #1Lib1Ref will be given priority by the Grants team during November.


The 2019 1Lib1Ref campaigns in January and May were founded on a series of learning interviews and community engagement efforts. This strategy was not only to include experienced organizers and supporters in some decision-making structures but to genuinely listen to their concerns, as well as ensure inclusive input towards running the campaign. These approaches to listening and improving the campaign around community input yielded some great stories.

  • During the pre-conference days of Wikimania 2018, Felix Nartey organised a training session for librarians in South Africa dubbed “Wikipedia 101”. This commenced a relationship with a librarian from the University of Cape Town by the name of Ingrid Thompson, who would later lead 1Lib1Ref activities in several libraries and institutions during both the January and May campaigns. Her activities directly churned 10-plus events and at least two webinars. She also led conversations with African librarian networks.
  • User:Darafsh had just returned from inactivity as a coordinator of the Farsi Wikipedia Library Branch and was really passionate about increasing the activity level of the branch. He saw 1Lib1Ref as a key opportunity to engage the community and some librarians. The campaign saw very high participation from the Farsi community and placed their campaign second amongst the languages represented.
  • Krishna has been a long-time Wikipedia Library coordinator and 1Lib1Ref organiser. He led activities in both the January and May campaigns for the Asian continent. He engaged at least three new countries, with more than seven events. His zeal to support the 1Lib1Ref initiative has been enormous and employing a new way to solve some of the generally accepted gaps was an insightful way of addressing movement needs.
  • During the May campaign AfroCrowd provided support towards reaching out to the Carribean, a region that had seen very little or no Wikimedia interventions. With help from the 1Lib1Ref team from Argentina and the alliance with AfroCrowd we started a campaign with the sole goal to just create awareness of the campaign in the region. Our efforts yielded some connections in Belize, an opportunity still in the works to train librarians from the country. We are looking at enhancing the efforts in the region for subsequent campaigns and possibly using 1Lib1Ref to onboard new communities and participants.
  • The Argentina 1Lib1Ref team led by Giselle has been doing an awesome job since the launch of the May campaign in 2018. This year she led more than 10 Latin American countries to participate in the campaign. The most intriguing part of what she does is the high-level support she provides to the Latin American communities, especially around the creation of documentation and communication strategies for the region.
  • The 2019 campaign will not be complete without speaking about the enthusiasm and competition from the librarians in Canada led by Leah. There was a significant expansion of the 2018 Canadian competition: the 2019 edition was a pan-Canadian event. This resulted in significant edits to both English and French Wikipedia. This activity put the Canadians and the French Wikipedia ahead of all other Wikipedias during the January campaign.
  • The campaign for the first time saw the French-language Wikipedia leading the contest and new entrants such as the Farsi Wikipedia taking a second spot during the May campaign. There was also a significant increase in participation from Africa and Asia. The Latin American community maintained a steady growth from last year.

These results underline the need to engage our communities with opportunities that allow them to ride on social activities or campaigns to engage or even serve as a reminder of their interest or commitment to volunteer. This is evident in similar campaigns such as Wiki Loves Monuments (WLM), Art & Feminism, etc. and other campaigns or points of engagement will only increase our activity levels both online and offline. We also need to begin to think of a bridge to ensure new editors are sustained within our movement or even a means to engage them yearly on the projects of their interest as not everyone may necessarily be an everyday Wikimedian.

Read the full report on Medium.

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