Stepping Beyond Libraries: The Changing Orientation in Global GLAM-Wiki


Wikipedia and its community has seen an increasingly close relationship between library communities, with both communities sharing overlapping values and practices related to public access to knowledge, a desire for openness, defence of freedom of speech, representing marginalized communities, and broad shared interest in reliable factual information and citations. This is best in evidence from the IFLA’ Wikipedia and Libraries Opportunity Papers and the substantial growth and ubiquity of the #1lib1ref campaign. However, the relationships between cultural heritage organizations (known as GLAMs -- Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) and the Wikimedia communities working on Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and other Wikimedia projects, began in its relationships to Museums and Archives: partnerships like that with the British Museum in 2010 led to a collective effort to encourage GLAM organizations to contribute to and participate in Wikimedia Communities.

Though early partnerships in the GLAM-Wiki space focused on batch uploads of digital content to Wikimedia Commons, embedding Wikimedia-designated experts called Wikipedians in Residence, and editing activities, like editathons, which write expert advised content into Wikipedia, in the last 6 years, the landscape in which partnership with cultural heritage institutions has shifted radically. Two major trends have developed in the Wikimedia community: a shift towards facilitating linked open data with Wikidata and the expansion of GLAM-Wiki projects to support institutions that not only have large digital capacity and funding, but also institutions with limited resources, collections focused on marginalized knowledge, and collections in parts of the world with limited digital expertise. In this transition, Wikimedia communities have become change agents in bringing both linked open data and open digital practices to institutions around the world.

In this paper, we will explore how GLAM-Wiki tactics, opportunities and collaboration are changing the GLAM use of Wikimedia projects from being viewed as just a platform for exposing collection to a broader public audience, into a growing part of the heritage professional toolkit.


GLAM-Wiki; Wikimedia; Wikipedia; Wikidata.

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Copyright (c) 2018 Alexander D. Stinson, Sandra Fauconnier, Liam Wyatt

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