Wikimedia Fellowships/Project Ideas/The Wikipedia Library

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List of project ideas Wikimedia Fellowship Project Idea

The Wikipedia Library is a project idea designed to give active, experienced Wikipedia editors free access to the vital reliable sources that they need to do their work. The motivation for the project is simple: Wikipedia editors largely donate their time to create a resource that benefits the entire world. As such, they should not have to beg, borrow, travel, trade, steal or go to large personal expense to find reliable sources. Many reliable sources are hidden behind expensive paywalls, only accessible through select schools, universities, or employers. The Wikipedia Library would be an organized program to change that.

There are isolated precedents for this type of community–corporation relationship. Programs have already been started with Credo Reference, HighBeam, and JSTOR to give approved editors access to proprietary content. These programs are a great start, but they are handicapped by the fact that they are separate and limited. Editors have to apply and sign in to each one individually, and the account approval and management needs to be overseen for every program in a time-consuming process of organization, dissemination, and maintenance.

These programs are like having 10 different keys to 10 different buildings with 10 different property managers. The idea of The Wikipedia Library is to create a central access point, with a single gate, behind which editors would be free to roam in and out of multiple paywalled sites. The technical implementation of this would center around a firewalled internet space, the technical details of which will be specified as the program develops.

Progress on the project will center around two key areas. One, contacting reference sites and building relationships with those providers to ask and persuade them to join The Wikipedia Library. Two, building the technical infrastructure of the project. Once these are completed, the next step is to roll out the application process and get editors the sources they need.

For questions, comments, or other ideas, please add to the talk page at EN:WP:TWL. At the moment project organization is being spearheaded by User:Ocaasi, who can be reached at wikiocaasi(_AT_) or at his English Wikipedia talk page EN:User_talk:Ocaasi.


One of my passions of mine has been getting Wikipedians the assets they need to write densely-researched, informative articles. As part of that quest, I built a relationship with HighBeam research, resulting in the donation of 1000 free 1-year accounts for select Wikipedia editors--a $200,000 value to the community. That is only the tip of the iceberg of where I'd like to go. The dream of the Wikipedia Library is to create a single point of access for our best and most dedicated members to have access to any and all of the highest quality research resources in the world. I think we need to reward our community leaders, and one way to do that is to simply get full entry to the best databases available at absolutely no cost to them.

That is the spirit of my whole approach: to facilitate people's experience as members of this community and make the difficult effortless and the complicated enlightening.

This is not merely a way to 'get free stuff'. Retention of our most active editors is a serious concern, and providing them (rewarding them) with access to propriety research databases is one way to keep them happy, active, and content.

The concrete, deliverable outcomes of this project are as follows:

  • Implement a single sign-on protocol that is compatible with most of the research databases we will be seeking partnerships with
  • Turn the existing three relationships we have with content providers into our first three members of The Wikipedia Library
  • Fully execute the integration of their systems with our single sign-on protocol
  • Form new relationships with other content providers and offer them the assistance they need to participate in the library.

My role in this project is primarily on the relationship-building side. I have generously received the help of Ryan Lane with Wikimedia Labs, and a bevy of great advice from the wikitech-l mailing list. But my coding skills are limited, and I need talented people who can actually construct the building where our partnerships will reside. I will gladly be a pitchman for this concept, emailing, speaking with, or even visiting the heads of major research databases to explain the concept to them, help them understand how it works, become comfortable with the project's approach, and ultimately get buy-in for their participation. One of the assets I have is good mutual relationships with two content providers already, and the necessary contacts to a third. The people I am in touch with know their industry inside and out and can be a huge driver of adoption throughout the research community.

The impact of The Wikipedia Library initially serves only the 1000 or so editors who would have free access to the library. However, 1000 dedicated Wikipedians might make hundreds of thousands of edits. Improving articles with high quality sources is a foundational exercise and could vastly improve articles that are read by millions of people a year. There is also the opportunity to bridge a gap between Wikipedia and the for-profit research community. Simply, those organizations can be a tremendous ally in fulfilling our core mission. They are good people to know and even better people to have as friends and partners.

Provided the technical implementation of single sign-on is successful, The Wikipedia Library can and should grow over time. There is no limit to the number of organizations or institutions who could participate. Indeed, we might one day face the problem of how to curate the available resources so that editors can find the best resource they need out of the multitude of available sources. In other words, The Wikipedia Library may one day need an actual librarian!

Although the current relationships we have are with English-language sources, there is no limit to integrating non-English resources into the library. Also, a good number of editors across the globe can benefit from English language sources, which although not ideal for their community, are often some of the highest quality reference works that exist.

Demonstrating impact of this project is partly a matter of counting the number of resource providers who sign on. It is also a matter of analyzing the number of references that are added to Wikipedia over time. By comparing periods of time prior to the existence of the library with periods afterwards, and by normalizing the addition of references with respect to the growth of edits and editors, we could potentially conduct a sophisticated multivariate analysis to demonstrate that there is a quantifiable increase in the number of references added to Wikipedia beyond what one would expect from natural growth. A far simpler approach would just be to survey Wikipedia Library users and ask them how often they use it and how many references they have added because of it.

Idea submitted by[edit]

Ocaasi (talk) 19:33, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Prospective fellows[edit]

Would you like to be considered for a fellowship to work on this project?

If you'd like to take an active role in this project, either alone or in a team of fellows with complementary skills, please add your name below. Note that in order to be considered for a fellowship, you must also submit an application to the program.

  1. I'm Ocaasi, and I would love to be considered for a Fellowship to advance this project. I have been editing Wikipedia for 3 years and contributed over 20,000 edits. I have worked extensively with new users in the irc-help channel, improved draft at Articles for Creation on English Wikipedia, written help guides for new users (The Plain and Simple guide) and for COI editors (The Plain and Simple COI guide). I am an OTRS member, often advising people on the basic mechanics of Wikipedia use, policy, and procedure. I am also an active article writer in the areas of alternative medicine and Egyptian politics. I have written for the Signpost (see the series, Does Wikipedia pay?). And, I participated in my *first* ever, and fantastic Wikimania in 2012 in Washington D.C. You can read all about my Wikipedia experience at EN:User:Ocaasi/About. Ocaasi (talk) 19:33, 25 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  2. Your name here!


This section is for endorsements by Wikimedia community volunteers. Please note that this is not a debate, vote, or poll, but is rather a space for volunteers to describe in detail why they think a project idea is of value. If you have concerns or questions rather than an endorsement to make, please use the idea Talk page. Endorsements by volunteers willing to work in collaboration with a fellowship recipient on a project are highly encouraged.

  • Endorse This is a monumentally good idea. I have found my Highbeam access to be extremely useful in finding sources, but I never even knew of Highbeam's existence before I ran across Ocaasi's project. Not only would a central library allow users to apply for multiple permissions to different journal aggregators and archives, it would also probably alert them to sources that they might never have encountered otherwise. It would provide a jumping off point for all sorts of research, and encourage the development of more articles, greatly increasing the amount of free information available to the general public. I can't see any way in which this would not benefit the encyclopedia, and if I can be of any help, I'll gladly get involved. Yunshui (talk) 07:55, 27 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse - I have made a similar proposal myself. Wer900 (talk) 00:15, 28 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse per Yunshui - only today I created a much-needed article (based on inbound wiki-links) Birmingham General Hospital, which would not have been possible without my HighBeam subscription. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 18:21, 28 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse This is a direction the community needs to move in. Volunteers provide their time and expertise, the project needs to provide the tools to help them create the best quality content possible. Let me know if any help is needed. Ocaasi, thanks so much for getting this off the ground. The Interior (talk) 19:56, 28 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse. Whilst there has understandably been a great deal of focus on attracting and retaining new editors, assisting experienced editors with their work is vitally important too. This project would be a great help in that, and has the potential to bring significant content improvements both in new articles and those already existing. The Highbeam project that Ocaasi began has been a great success so far, and I think he is the ideal person to take this work to the next level. the wub "?!" 16:55, 30 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse quoting the wub. -- CristianCantoro (talk) 13:29, 1 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse As a researcher, I say yes yes yes. SarahStierch (talk) 21:57, 2 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse Possibly add to your deliverables an exchange program where users with access can volunteer assistance to those without (Example, I subscribe to Birds of North America (BNA) and am willing to help with research there.). Doctree (talk) 17:52, 4 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse - hands down, the Wikipedia community could use this greatly. --Ceradon (talk) 07:56, 9 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse definately fruitful for regulas.Lihaas (talk) 03:47, 10 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse This would be so nice and incredibly convenient, rather than having to sign up for a bunch of different accounts at a bunch of different places on Wikipedia. Consolidating it all would be much more useful for all editors and, i'm sure, would lead to a lot more editors signing up and using the different services through the Wikipedia Library. Silver seren (talk) 04:23, 10 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse A terrific idea. Will greatly increase the availability and accessibility of reliable sources and make the searching process less cumbersome. Offers many potential benefits to Wikipedia, with (seemingly) no downside whatsoever.--JayJasper (talk) 05:16, 10 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse Wonderful! We need more of this kind of ideas. Salvador alc (talk) 06:00, 10 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Awesome If this happens, I can stop signing up for courses just to use my university's online journal access. --Anthonyhcole (talk) 11:33, 10 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse Excellent idea! I have been using Highbeam. A helpful tool. I have applied for JSTOR (which may be much more helpful, I think, but, still now I have not got access ) I agree with Yunshi, also The interior, it'll be greate if the editors are given tools--Titodutta (talk) 20:58, 10 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse This needs to happen, and has the advantage of dovetailing nicely with existing initiatives (e.g. Wikipedians in Residence) and current dev projects (e.g. OAuth). It'll be a challenge, but a worthwhile one. Jtmorgan (talk) 22:18, 10 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse Ruud Koot (talk) 22:37, 10 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse As an editor with zero access to library resources and too poor for paywalls. A definite yes.--ObsidinSoul 15:21, 11 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse Arguably one of the most important things you could do to improve wikipedia as a resource in the long term. (Dr. Blofeld)
  • Endorse I have a couple of concerns outlined in the talk page, but I generally like this idea. Good luck! Theo10011 (talk) 19:21, 11 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse - excellent idea to improve article quality on Wikimedia sites. Siko, on Wikipedia we would normally close this per the snowball clause. It's pretty clear cut ;) Steven Zhang (talk) 07:27, 12 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse - this goes without saying! If the databases will allow it, of course.  ;) --Philosopher Let us reason together. 05:11, 14 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse This proposal will help the articles grow. ~~EBE123~~ talkContribs 19:29, 14 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endrose Good idea. --Muhammad Shuaib (talk) 02:31, 16 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endrose Many good wiki editors lack useful resources and have to search a lot for them, it can help the project to grow. --Sicaspi (talk) 03:49, 16 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse A good help for wikipedia editors. It will help to open a crack in content held by such organizations and to provide ideas for participants for the future. -- 07:52, 16 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse the idea. This is a very good initiative and I really hope that other on-line paywalled repositories participate in this noble cause of Wikimedia Foundation.--Bill william compton (talk) 10:44, 16 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse As a researcher in Vietnam. I am really appreciate this proposal.--Cheers! (talk) 03:54, 17 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse this novel idea. This is a very good start and I sincerely feel that other online-pay repositories will be part of this initiative of Wikimedia Foundation.-- Hindustanilanguage (talk) 11:29, 17 August 2012 (UTC).Reply[reply]
  • Endorse. It is an excellent idea that should be tried. If it would be possible to create a safe single login for more than one service, please do so. E.g., for citizens living in Germany there is a single login for all w:de: Nationallizenz databases at via proxy servers. --Aschmidt (talk) 19:48, 19 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse. I've long felt that the Foundation should build bridges with those able to provide access to sources. There is potentially something in it for them too, depending on the type of provider – see JN466 12:48, 16 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Wholehearedly endorse This is a brilliant idea that will encourage editors to use better sourcing and improve the encyclopedia. Tvoz (talk) 18:53, 22 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse per the wub et al. — OwenBlacker (Talk) 16:50, 20 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse. This should help retain dedicated editors (it would certainly get me fired up) and will improve the quality of our coverage of topics in under-served disciplines. - PKM (talk) 07:38, 21 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse. This is a fantastic idea, if all the bureaucratic and technical difficulties can be overcome. Simon Burchell (talk) 20:45, 24 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse. I always wished that the WMF moves into this direction. I already appreciate very much the access to JSTOR and Highbeam and used it for multiple new articles created in the past days. To let the WMF act like a regular library that provides simplified and generic access to a set of digital libraries and archives would be not just very convenient but also motivating. --AFBorchert (talk) 18:01, 1 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse. Obvious, since no original research is a key policy. It might attract more editors if researchers seeking material are helped and encouraged to contribute summaries of their research in relevant articles. Would be great to be able to access resources like the Web of Science. Shyamal (talk) 05:01, 14 January 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Support Best idea I have heard in a long time by a user who can pull it off. Has my full support. Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 21:47, 8 February 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse. That's great idea. --بیکار (talk) 18:05, 22 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse. Definitely helpful. Taha (talk) 03:39, 24 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse I've experienced problems that (s)he said, I really support this project Amir (talk) 04:07, 24 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse. Good idea Florence (talk) 14:02, 24 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse Ταπυροι (گپ) 09:53, 27 March 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]
  • Endorse lease let me know of you need some translation in italian at least--Alexmar983 (talk) 11:14, 17 February 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]