Wikipedia and Advocacy

The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, is hosting an Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. The event is designed to train interested people to edit Wikipedia pages with this stated goal: to edit, update, and create Wikipedia articles related to art, gender, and intersectional feminism, with a focus on women artists in the museum’s collection (High Museum of Art). The museum’s edit-a-thon is part of a global push to improve the content on Wikipedia. This prompted me to think deeply about Wikipedia.

Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, is based on the model of openly editable and viewable content, Surveys indicate that females make up less than 17% of Wikipedia’s editors (Gender Bias on Wikipedia). It was started in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger (History of Wikipedia). Systemic racial and gender basis are an issue on Wikipedia due to a lack of diversity among its editors. Only about 17% of the biographies on Wikipedia are about women (Doyle 2018). One study found that biographies about women on Wikipedia focused more on family, gender, and relationship-related topics (Gender Bias on Wikipedia).

When you Google something your search results page shows you general information on the right from Wikipedia. There the Wikipedia entry sits, fed to the reader as a seemingly authoritative source of information.

The English Wikipedia includes over 5.8 million articles and averages 20,000 new articles per month (Wikipedia: Size of Wikipedia). In January 2019, there were more than 7 billion page views for English Wikipedia (Wikimedia Statistics).

English Wikipedia represents one of the 303 Wikipedias; 292 are active, 11 are not (List of Wikipedias). While Wikipedia is not an authoritative source, its existence can’t be dismissed or diminished. Millions of people read information found on Wikipedia each day.

School Librarian Wikipedia Entry

For fun, I looked up school librarian in Wikipedia, which is cross-referenced to teacher librarian. Here is the first sentence of the entry: “A teacher-librarian (TL), school librarian, or school library media specialist (SLMS), is a certified librarian who also has training in teaching” (Teacher Librarian Wikipedia). No mention of anything Future Ready, no reflection on the American Association of School Librarian Standards. I wandered over to the school library page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_library. It features images from Russia 1959, Minnesota 1974, and an undated photo of shelves of books.

I venture to say we need a School Library Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. Updated images would help communicate what our school libraries represent today, not to mention information about digital curation, collaboration, and instructional partnerships. A few sample images appear at the end of this blog post. They feature:

  • Updated, curved shelving
  • Nooks for reading
  • Glass-enclosed collaboration spaces
  • A genius bar
  • Tables that can be easily reconfigured and lots of natural light.

The entry could include information about how school libraries can include makerspaces, 3D printers, virtual reality, and many other innovative technologies. School libraries can be places where students learn to code, experience novel engineering, and Skype with their favorite authors on the other side of the globe. School libraries have been transformed and the Wikipedia School Library page should reflect this.

Wikipedia could be an advocacy tool. Let’s do it! Are you with me?

New Images for the Edited Wikpedia School Library Page

Natural light in the school library 

Flexible furnishing and unique shelving

 

Reading Nook

 

Curved shelving

 

Students work at genius bar in the school library

*All pictures feature the C.H. Gullatt Elementary School Library in Union City, Georgia , Fulton County Schools.

Resources

How to Run an Edit-a-Thon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:How_to_run_an_edit-a-thon

How to Host a Wikipedia Meet-Up: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup

Sources

History of Wikipedia. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Wikipedia.

Doyle, K. 2018. “What It’s Like to Be a Wikipedian in Residence.” Information Today 35(9): 1–20. Retrieved from http://www.infotoday.com/it/nov18/Doyle–What-Its-Like-to-Be-a-Wikipedian-in-Residence.shtml.

Gender Bias on Wikipedia. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_bias_on_Wikipedia.

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Author: Michelle Easley

Michelle Easley is the author of How to Increase Diversity in School Library Collections and Programs. Michelle is a national presenter, diversity and library advocate, consultant and speaker. Michelle spends her free time volunteering with homeless youth.



Categories: Advocacy/Leadership, Blog Topics

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