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WikiCite/2020 Virtual conference/Update on Activities from the National Library of Israel

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Open citations & linked bibliographic data | 26-28 October 2020 | #WikiCite

Part of Celebrating Wikidata's 8th Birthday | #WikidataBirthday

Good citizenship and bad metadata: Wikidata at the National Library of Israel[edit]

13:54 UTC



What happens when good intentions meet bad metadata?

In preparation for the switch to a new library system, the National Library of Israel committed itself to publishing an administrative database -- our information about Israeli publishers -- on the web. Following in the wake of other GLAM institutions, Wikidata seemed the logical choice. Slightly over a year later, the first new Wikidata items are being created. Over the course of the project we have struggled with poorly-formed metadata, a global pandemic, political unrest and subsequent budget crises, but we have also learned a considerable amount about what it takes for a mid-size GLAM to scale production of Wikidata projects. In this presentation we will detail three NLI Wikidata projects currently underway -- The Israeli Publishers' Database, Jewish Anonymous Classics and Early Judaica Printers -- and how COVID-19 changed them for the worse, but also for the better. Our Wikidata team has expanded the range of our projects, collaborated with other divisions of our library, and taken extensive advantage of opportunities which the global shutdown provided. At the same time, we've had to confront legacies of short-sightedness, patchwork solutions, and overburdened systems. In this half hour we will present our journey -- how Wikidata strengthened us when we were at our most vulnerable but also led us to question our most basic assumptions about global GLAM citizenship and our institutional past and future.


Ahava Cohen serves as head of the Hebrew cataloguing department at the National Library of Israel and heads the library's Wikidata project. She holds a doctorate in Library and Information Sciences from Bar Ilan University, Israel. Cohen teaches cataloguing and classification in the David Yellin College MLIS program in Jerusalem, Israel, and heads the national continuing professional development program in cataloguing. On the international front, Cohen is the chair of the European RDA Interest Group (EURIG) and is the backup European representative to the RDA Steering Committee.


Allison-Cassin, S., Armstrong, A., Ayers, P., Cramer, T., Custer, M., Lemus-Rojas, M., ... & Stinson, A. (2019). ARL White Paper on Wikidata: Opportunities and Recommendations. Association of Research Libraries.
Bianchini, C. & Spinelli, P. (2020). Wikidata at Fondazione Levi (Venice, Italy). A Case Study for the Publication of Data about Fondo Gambara, a Collection of 202 Musicians' Portraits, JLIS.it,11(3). http://dx.doi.org/10.4403/jlis.it-12648
Cohen, A. (2020). Luck is what Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity: Building Israel’s Multilingual, Multiscript Authority Database. Cataloging & Classification Quarterly. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639374.2020.1815920
Cooey, N. (2019). Leveraging Wikidata to Enhance Authority Records in the EHRI Portal, Journal of Library Metadata, 19(1-2), 83-98. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19386389.2019.1589700