OCLC Awarded Grant for Wikipedia + Libraries Training in Mexico

OCLC's WebJunction will work to expand their Wikipedia + Libraries project to Mexico with a new grant from the Wikimedia Foundation.

WebJunction created the Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together training program to help library staff leverage Wikipedia to better serve their communities. Now, with a newly awarded 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.

Why Wikipedia, why libraries, why Mexico?

Librarians are stewards of quality information, standard bearers for information literacy, and curators of authoritative collections that serve the diverse information needs of their communities. These qualities make libraries a natural partner for extending free and open access to the world’s knowledge through Wikipedia. But, to guide its effective use, librarians need to understand how Wikipedia can promote the library’s role as a trusted, reliable local hub for learning, knowledge creation, and sharing.

In the US, OCLC successfully raised awareness and understanding of English-language Wikipedia’s uses through its WebJunction program, which designs, delivers, and scales free professional development and continuing education for library staff across the US and beyond. In fall of 2017, the nine-week “Wikipedia + Libraries: Better Together” course trained nearly 300 US public library staff; these information professionals are now better equipped to support community members’ and students’ use of and engagement with Wikipedia. The curriculum is now open and freely available for others to adapt to use.

Meanwhile, the Wikimedia Foundation is working to improve recognition of Wikipedia and understanding of its uses among internet users in Mexico. Its 2016 New Readers research indicated that there is currently “medium” Wikipedia awareness in Mexico (~55% surveyed say they have never heard of Wikipedia) but with “low” brand trust. With that research in mind, Wikimedia Mexico, WMF staff, and other Wikimedians have been working on a strategic marketing project targeting students and general internet users in Mexico.

Partnering for a successful expansion

It may seem a good idea to simply translate the OCLC course and extend the training to library staff in Mexico; however, Mexico’s library ecosystem and infrastructure is quite different from that of the US. These differences affect capacity, priorities, stakeholders, communication channels, resources, and professional development for librarians as well as attitudes toward and use of libraries by the public.

OCLC will set the stage for a successful Wikipedia + Libraries training program in Mexico by engaging with regional stakeholders to develop an action plan that identifies the key organizations, the opportunities and barriers, and recommended approach to designing and delivering training to library staff in Mexico.

Starting in June 2019, OCLC will work with regional advisors to identify a Mexico-based organization that can lead the training, and produce an action plan for delivering a Wikipedia + Libraries training program that will help library staff in Mexico guide community members’ understanding and use of Wikipedia, increase their information literacy skills, and expand their access to free reliable information on the Web.

Learn more about the project, and read about the Wikimedia Project Grants this project is a part of on the Wikimedia Foundation blog.

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