By Wikimedia Foundation (Wikimedia Foundation) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Museums and Galleries Scotland’s Wikimedian in Residence:Sara Thomas led an engaging hands-on workshop in how to contribute to the world’s largest collaborative encyclopedia. Sara’s knowledge of the wikipedia movement was only eclipsed by her passion and drive to get others involved in improving this increasingly authoritative resource.
There can be little argument that Wikipedia has come a long way. I remember my own determination as a school librarian, some years ago now, trying to steer students away from the evil information upstart that would allow anyone to contribute their tuppence worth on a topic without any demonstrable qualification or expert knowledge.
Time passed and I’d found myself surreptitiously dipping in to the wikipedia honey pot of facts from time to time when I had my first opportunity to speak with an actual wikimedian. Liam Wyatt was the inaugural Wikipedian in Residence from the British Museum’s pilot ‘wikipedian in residence’ program in 2010. After listening to what Liam had to say about the GLAM-wiki Initiative which helps bring together resources from galleries, libraries, archives & museums with experienced wikipedia editors I was converted. Wikipedia was at last a valid place to do some initial information gathering.
Moving on, I thought it would be great to attend an event and find out how I could contribute myself. I work in a fantastic library after all – what a great excuse to go digging for information on a subject just because I find it interesting! Sara was the perfect guide to getting started. First, she made sure that the attendees had the tools to go ahead and create or expand an article themselves. Then she gave us free reign to choose our topics, staying on hand to help out and answer questions as we went. Apart from the practical skills to get on with some editing Sara infected us with the bug to get contributing.