Wikipedians in Residence at the African Studies Centre?


WikipediaThe African Studies Centre in Leiden will be the secretary of a project wherein two so called Wikipedians in Residence will work in 12 specialized libraries in The Netherlands. The project Wikipedians in Special Residence will take place from October 2013 tot November 2014. A grant of EUR 94.000 from the PICA Foundation was awarded to the proposal, written under the auspices of the Group of Special Scientific Libraries in the Netherlands (WSWB). In order to get the focus of the project a bit more clear, Habari asked 7 questions to Jos Damen, head of the library of the ASC and involved in the project as treasurer of this group of Dutch special libraries, WSWB.

1. What is a Wikipedian in Residence?
From 2010 on, about 40 persons have acted as Wikipedians in Residence. Most Wikipedians in Residence were (and are) known and active Wikipedians, writers and editors on Wikipedia, the worlds largest free online encyclopedia. The first Wikipedian in Residence worked at the British Museum in London, the most recent one at the Royal Library in The Hague. They not only write, edit and add articles and pictures on Wikipedia en Wikimedia Commons, but also try to "enable the host organization and its members to continue a productive relationship with the encyclopedia". In normal words: improve Wikipedia and improve the attitude towards Wikipedia within the host organization -and getting paid for it. (A complete list of Wikipedians in Residence can be found here).

2. Why Wikipedia?
Wikipedia is about the sixth best used website on earth (right after FaceBook, Google, YouTube, Yahoo & Baidu). Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia with about 30 million articles (lemmata), edited by volunteers in 286 languages. Wikpedia tries to disseminate knowledge in a funny cooperative way. (Wiki is a type of collaborative website, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning "quick" and encyclopedia.) Wikipedia is an open source medium that is an ideal tool to have the knowledge and collections of scientific institutes made available to a general public.

3. What are the objectives of the project?
Wikipedians in Special Residence means to bring in data (text and images) of the 12 special libraries involved to Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. The project intends to use the expertise of the libraries (ASC Leiden, Atria, Boekman Foundation, Eye Film Institute, IHLIA, Institute for Housing, KITLV, NIOD, NKI-AVL, Rijksdienst Cultureel Erfgoed, Rijksmuseum, Peace Palace). It wants to enhance the knowledge and abilities of the librarians and researchers at these institutes, focused around five general themes of knowledge: art & culture, war & peace, world collections, gender & diversity, health.

4. What will the two Wikipedians in Special Residence do when in residence in Leiden, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Amersfoort?
The two Wikipedians in Residence will facilitate the improvement of content by the Wikipedia community, work with the organizational staff, promote understanding of Wikipedia and lay the foundation for a more lasting partnership.

5. What about Africa in Wikipedia?
As always, Africa is chronically underrepresented in Wikipedia. This is a nice challenge to this project. Two former Wikipedians in Residence (Milano 2011 and Cape Town 2012) paved the way, in a sense. See Lettera27 and WikiAfrica Culture and Knowledge.

6. Why spend so much time and  money on a popular website?
Because Africa needs to be represented better in Wikipedia. Because Wikipedia is innovative and popular. Because Wikipedia is seen as a trusted source. Because knowledge needs to be dispersed broadly.

7. Who will benefit from this project?
The general public. Africa. 12 libraries in the Netherlands. 2 Wikipedians in Residence. The World.

Art collage




Five themes in the project Wikipedians in Special Residence