Libraries Leverage Wikimedia


OCLC has led several initiatives involving Wikimedia projects, most notably Wikipedia and Wikidata. Some have been in collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation while others with the global Wikimedia volunteer community, who contributes content and actively builds Wikimedia projects.

Library metadata to support Wikidata

Merrilee Proffitt, Senior Program Officer OCLC Research, works closely with the Wikimedia community and serves as a Wikipedian. She helped develop OCLC's first Wikipedian-in-Residence program and worked with the first OCLC Wikipedian-in-Residence, Max Klein, in 2012. Together with the Wikipedia community, Klein modeled how library metadata could be used in Wikipedia, which helped to scale and expand Wikipedia's use of VIAF identifiers. Today, these identifiers are used across multiple Wikimedia projects. Later, in collaboration with the Wikipedia Library, OCLC Research helped to pioneer a Wikipedia Visiting Scholar at five universities—a program that has since grown to include dozens of institutions.

More recently, a linked data Wikibase prototype (“Project Passage”)  was developed to provide a sandbox in which librarians from 16 US institutions could experiment with creating linked data to describe resources—without requiring knowledge of the technical machinery of linked data. The report on the work, Creating Library Linked Data with Wikibase: Lessons Learned from Project Passage, provides an overview of the context in which the prototype was developed, how the Wikibase platform was adapted for use by librarians, and eight use cases where pilot participants (co-authors of this report) describe their experience of creating metadata for resources in various formats and languages using the Wikibase editing interface.  

Improving access to reliable resources

References and reliable sources help Wikipedia editors verify facts included in articles. They also provide additional resources to readers who want to delve deeper into research topics. Adding references has not always been easy, often requiring editors to cut and paste or re-type information. In 2017, OCLC and the Wikimedia Foundation's Wikipedia Library signed an agreement to make it easier for editors to link citations in Wikipedia to relevant library materials held in libraries all over the world using the WorldCat Search API.  

Thanks to this collaboration, the ability to generate citations has improved significantly, and now Wikimedia's cite tool, a companion to its visual editing interface, allows editors to generate a full citation from a single identifier. The integration of the WorldCat Search API into the cite tool helps editors automatically generate citations and add links back to libraries through

Using Wikidata to strengthen the power of WorldCat

Using WorldCat, the world’s largest and most comprehensive aggregation of data describing global library holdings, along with Wikidata, OCLC Researchers have explored the contribution of several countries to the published record as manifested in the collections of libraries around the world.

Find out how the presence and influence of Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, and Poland are seen in the world's published and collected records, as well as a deep dive into what makes each country's presence unique. Learn more.

Wikipedia and information literacy in libraries

In 2016, OCLC won the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s 2016 News Challenge for Libraries award with the project Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together. The project was designed to deliver a national training program via WebJunction to empower US public library staff to build their Wikipedia skills, implement Wikipedia programming, and amplify the role of libraries as information literacy leaders in their communities.

Monika Sengul-Jones joined the team in February 2017 as the OCLC Wikipedian-in-Residence, supported in part by a grant from the Wikimedia Foundation. In November 2017, WebJunction concluded a series of six online training sessions that introduced nearly 300 library staff to the inner workings of Wikipedia. The sessions demonstrated how Wikipedia can be used as an information literacy teaching tool and a way to surface local knowledge on the open web.

The training curriculum is now available for any library to access, along with examples of library programming, partnerships, and community engagement activities that use Wikipedia. Read more about the project's timeline and components.

Now, with a Project Grant from the Wikimedia Foundation, OCLC will work to expand the project to Mexico. OCLC will investigate the viability of and approach to a Wikipedia + Libraries training program for library staff in Mexico, in support of the Wikimedia Foundation’s New Readers initiative.

The WebJunction program is also desinging and delivering Wikipedia + Libraries: Health and Medical Information, a four-week, online, instructor-led course that will demonstrate how and why Wikipedia’s health and medical information is relevant to libraries and their communities. The course is designed for public library staff seeking the skills to assess the reliability of medical information found in Wikipedia and to improve the health information literacy of their patrons. Learn more in this article.