OCLC Research's Merrilee Proffitt Shows How Libraries Can Leverage Wikipedia

Leveraging Wikipedia book cover

In Leveraging Wikipedia: Connecting Communities of Knowledge, published by ALA Editions, Merrilee Proffitt of OCLC Research shows how libraries can contribute to Wikipedia to improve content quality and make library services more visible.

The vision statement of the Wikimedia Foundation states, "Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge." Libraries do not need to see Wikipedia as competition; rather, failing to leverage its omnipresence in the online world constitutes a missed opportunity. As a senior program officer at OCLC, Proffitt has encouraged collaboration between Wikipedia and cultural heritage institutions, leading to increased visibility and user engagement at participating organizations.

For her book Proffitt brings onboard a raft of contributors from the worlds of academia, archives, libraries, and members of the volunteer Wikipedia community who together point toward connecting these various communities of knowledge. Authors of the 15 chapters include: Andrew Lih author of the "Wikipedia Revolution," who writes about the value of galleries, libraries, archives and museums to the Wikimedia Community; Kelly Doyle, Wikipedian-in-Residence at West Virginia University, who covers systemic bias and gaps in Wikipedia; Lydia Pincher, Wikimedia Deutschland, and Mairelys Lemus-Rojas, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, who introduce us to Wikidata; and Monika Sengul-Jones, OCLC Wikipedian-in-Residence, who writes about US public librarianship with Wikipedia.

This book will inspire libraries to get involved in the Wikipedia community through programs and activities such as:

  • hosting editathons;
  • contributing content and helping to bridge important gaps in Wikipedia;
  • ensuring that library content is connected through the world’s biggest encyclopedia;
  • working with the Wikipedia education community; and
  • engaging with Wikipedians as allies in a quest to expand access to knowledge. 

For more insight, read the interview with Proffitt, "Merrilee Proffitt on collaboration between Wikipedia and cultural heritage institutions."

Proffitt is a senior program officer at OCLC Research. She provides project management skills and expert support to institutions represented within the OCLC Research Library Partnership. Among her many projects is looking at developing better relationships between Wikipedia and cultural heritage institutions, particularly libraries. In 2012 she created OCLC’s Wikipedian in Residence program. She has contributed to Wikipedia, Wikidata, and Wikimedia Commons, and helped to run several edit-a-thons. She is a founding member of the Wikimedia and Libraries User Group and severed as a team member and Wikipedia Guide for OCLC’s WebJunction Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together project.

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OCLC is a nonprofit global library cooperative providing shared technology services, original research and community programs so that libraries can better fuel learning, research and innovation. Through OCLC, member libraries cooperatively produce and maintain WorldCat, the most comprehensive global network of data about library collections and services. Libraries gain efficiencies through OCLC's WorldShare, a complete set of library management applications and services built on an open, cloud-based platform. It is through collaboration and sharing of the world’s collected knowledge that libraries can help people find answers they need to solve problems. Together as OCLC, member libraries, staff and partners make breakthroughs possible.

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Interview with the Author

Read more in this ALA Editions interview: Merrilee Proffitt on collaboration between Wikipedia and cultural heritage institutions.