Wikipedia in African Libraries

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The Wikipedia in African Libraries Project

Training for African Librarians
August 2020 to July 2021
Wikipedia in African Libraries


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The Wikipedia in African Libraries project is a project designed to get more African librarians to understand how Wikipedia’s treasure trove of information can help them serve their communities better, how it works, and to participate in adding content about the continent which will help to acclimatize them to the resource while expanding its reach and usage as well as filling in information gaps about Africa. On the other hand, resources in African libraries will serve various Wikimedia communities well in editing and generating articles for the online encyclopaedia.

OCLC has already developed a curriculum and training materials with American librarians as the audience for Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together course. However, the existing curriculum and study materials need to be made relatable, relevant, and adapted to the African context bearing in mind that differences exist between Africa and America in terms of library ecosystem, digital skills, infrastructure and values which all have direct bearing on terms of engagement, stakeholders, capacity levels and professional development needs of librarians, perceptions about libraries and available resources.

Background[edit]

AfLIA (African Library and Information Associations and Institutions) is the umbrella body for the African Library sector. The mission of the organization is to empower African librarians and information professionals with skills that can transform lives and communities as well as drive the global and continental development Agenda. Professionalism, inclusiveness, innovativeness and creativity, transparency and accountability and access to information as a basic human right are the core values of AfLIA. Founded in 2013, the organization operates from it's headquarters in Accra, Ghana and has members spread all over Central, East, North, Southern and West Africa.[1]

Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project supported by the Wikimedia Foundation and based on a model of openly editable content. It is the world's largest online encyclopedia, written collaboratively by anonymous volunteers. It was created in 2001 and as of 2015, it had recorded over 375 million visitors to the website. Wikipedia exists in over 310 languages.

Objectives[edit]

The overarching aim of this collaborative project is to adapt the OCLC curriculum in line with Africa’s information environment and library ecosystem and that will match with suitable learning objectives that align with Wikipedia community standards and processes.

The objectives therefore are:

  1. Train approximately 10 librarians each in 30 countries in Africa to understand Wikipedia as a veritable resource for dissemination of information and a teaching tool that promotes quality education thereby increasing access to the resource and serving their user communities better.
  2. Train African librarians to be able to evaluate the quality and reliability of individual articles, edit and create content of local and personal interest on Wikipedia with laid down benchmarks for quality and relevance.
  3. Train librarians to teach their user communities to use and contribute to Wikipedia’s by taking them through the editorial processes and quality standards of the resource. As part of the online training, librarians will be encouraged and supported to physically run Wikipedia programmes in their libraries as community projects or assignments integrating what was taught (eg Friendly Space policies) in the course with feedback pathways on the teaching platform to assist the facilitators to know the outcomes of the programmes. - Nurture relationships between Wikipedia communities in Africa with libraries. This is expected to lead to collaborations with librarians during the and after the life-cycle of the project.