Grants:IEG/The Wikipedia Library/Midpoint

Welcome to this project's midpoint report! This report shares progress and learnings from the Individual Engagement Grantee's first 3 months.



The Wikipedia Library grew from a collection of donations to paywalled sources into a broad open research portal for our community. New partnerships have been formed, new pilot programs started, new connections made with our library experts and likeminded institutions. I have tried to bring people together in a new sense of purpose and community about the importance of facilitating research in an open and collaborative way.



Organizing The Wikipedia Library involved 6 main pieces:

  • Gathering the existing partnerships under a common umbrella
  • Exploring new partnerships
  • Expanding and refining the goals of the library
  • Planning activities and pilot programs to advance these goals
  • Building The Wikipedia Library portal to organize and promote these goals and activities
  • Connecting our community of librarians, editors, and research experts together

Existing partnerships


The existing partnerships were primarily donations from 5 publishers: Credo, HighBeam, Questia, and JSTOR. The first step was to cleanup those pages, rename them under a standardized format, link them together with a Wikipedia Library navigation header, and get the existing donations up to date and delivered.

New partnerships


New potential partnerships were explored. Most successfully, leading medical publisher Cochrane Collaboration donated an initial round of 100 accounts with room for more should there be demand. This program was added to the promotion, sign-up, and management process. A new partnership was explored and is being considered with the New York Times. And while not a publisher in the traditional sense, we built a very strong connection with OCLC, the world's largest library catalogue and library services provide. Due to management challenges with the account donations, expanding new partnerships took a backseat to building up the infrastructure to handle them.



We are working together towards 5 big goals that create an open hub for conducting research:

  • Connect editors with their local library and freely accessible resources
  • Partner to provide free access to paywalled publications, databases, universities, and libraries
  • Build relationships among our community of editors, libraries, and librarians
  • Facilitate research for Wikipedians, helping editors to find and use sources
  • Promote broader open access in publishing and research

Activities and pilot programs


The Wikipedia Library supports editors to find existing sources that are accessible already, while arranging partnerships which provide access to paywalled sources. Here's how we do this:

Donation of accounts by individual publishers. We approach research databases and simply ask for donation. We have over 4,500 accounts from HighBeam, Questia, Credo, JSTOR, and Cochrane COllaboration. This provides direct access, which would individually cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Let's find ways to scale these partnerships to be more comprehensive and easier to manage.
Wikipedia Visiting Scholars. Suggested by Peter Suber at the Harvard Open Access project, we will approach university libraries or academic units within institutions and invite them to designate select Wikipedia editors as remote, unpaid visiting scholars, research affiliates or fellows with full library access. This builds our relationships with university libraries in lightweight ways. Why shouldn't ever university library in the world have one Wikipedia visiting scholar on staff?
University partnerships. We'll target whole institutions and connect The Wikipedia Library with their library resources directly; for example, "The Wikipedia Library, partnered with MIT." This is a way to scale source access, although it is more challenging technically and legally.
Library catalogue integration. Connecting to the multitude of existing source indexes and databases streamlines the research process for editors. We're exploring a partnership with OCLC, the world's largest library cooperative, to facilitate easier searching for and access to both open and closed access books, journals, and digital collections.
Leverage our Wikipedia researchers. Through the Reference Desk, Resource Exchange, and Wikiproject Libraries, we have an army of talented information specialists. Let's connect with and support those research experts to use their skills for the benefit of the community by piloting a Research desk, Query service or Enquiry workflow. Why shouldn't every library professional spend one hour per week helping Wikipedia editors expand the encyclopedia through better research?
Build tools which support research. Developing technology to connect directly with available sources, library search interfaces, citation indexes, and authorized websites makes all this easier.
Make open access obvious. Piloting programs that signal when sources are freely accessible, and streamline pathways to collections of open repositories and publications encourages the cycle of open access.
Connect with Libraries: Through programs like Wikipedia Loves Libraries and other GLAM initiatives, let's help instiutions put on events and editathons that connect editors to institutions, their staff, and their collections.

The Wikipedia Library portal


Key to having so many areas of potential activity was having a central organizing hub. The Wikipedia Library page was redesigned as an 'open research hub' with the goals, activities, resources, related projects, available partnerships, communication and news features, and profiles nicely laid out and accessible for people to learn about and get involved. The design was borrowed and adapted from Meta's Individual Engagement Grants portal, thanks to Heather Walls and Siko Bouterse's excellent work there. The portal is the virtual 'superstructure' which presents, promotes, and coordinates all of the activities of the library. A key feature borrowed from IEG and inspired by the Teahouse are the personal profiles where community members can sign up, list their strengths, take on a role, and get involved.

Connecting our community


This is the most challenging and most exciting aspect of the project. Our community is so rich with library and reference experts, digital humanities and open access leaders, information science professionals, academics, researchers, and editors. Giving these editors a way to connect with each other in relation to the library's goals is an ongoing process that is just beginning. Also key to building this community was reaching out to thought and action leaders in each of these areas, to introduce them to the Wikipedia Library's role and purpose, get their guidance on best practices and useful approaches, and explore opportunities to pilot programs with them or their institutions.


Gathering the existing partnerships under a common umbrella
Exploring new potential partnerships
Wikipedia Library partner Cochrane Collaboration donated 100 full accounts to their high quality medical library reviews
  • HighBeam
    Renewed donation for an additional 1000 accounts (individual replacement value = $199 per account)
    Second round of HighBeam metrics numbers run Link
    Coordinated transfer of new HighBeam passwords for signup: Highbeam
  • Cochrane
    Newest member added to TWL: The Cochrane Library, initial offering of 100 accounts but no maximum set ($300-$800 per license)
    Sign-up page created: Link
    Signups advertised throughout English Wikipedia (EdwardsBot) and Globally (Global Message Delivery)
    60+ applicants for Cochrane partnership collected: Cochrane
    Collected email information for Cochrane participants
  • Questia
    Completed next round of signups for Questia partnership: Questia
    Delivered Questia accounts for round 3
  • OCLC/WorldCat
    Initiated partnership with OCLC/WorldCat
    Met with OCLC team in Cincinnati and San Mateo
    Created project plan: OCLC and introductory slideset for presentation
  • New York Times
    Built relationship with 2 New York Times business development executives to discuss getting access for editors to NYT archives. Set up meetings for continued talks in August.
    3 Meetings with NY Times staff so far
Expanding and refining the goals of the library
Wikipedia Library Profiles, a way to advance the goal of connecting community in library projects
  • Areas of initial focus reset
    Access to existing local/open library resources (e.g. OCLC)
    Donations of Paywalled sources
    Wikipedia Visiting Scholars/Research Affiliates
    Outreach to Libraries and librarians (e.g. Wikipedia Loves Libraries, ALA)
    Building and integration with library and research tools
Planning pilot programs to advance these goals
Wikipedia Library activities, ways to join and get involved
  • OCLC/WorldCat
    Received full access to Search and E-Switch APIs
    Met with WMF Legal and Tech folks about privacy protections
    Built and tested working demo for OCLC's Search and E-Switch (fulfillment) APIs ([1]):
    Collected OCLC privacy policy statement from staff lawyers and shared with Wikimedia Foundation's legal department (Michelle Paulson, in person at Wikimania with follow-up through email).
  • Phone call with OCLC about progressing on the API and Visiting Scholars program
    Planned pilot to place two Wikipedians as Visiting Scholars at University Libraries
  • Created pilot of library Research Desk
  • Created an emailuser template for contacting research librarians directly through Wikipedia
Building a portal to organize and promote these goals and activities
The redesigned Wikipedia Library portal
  • Redesigned The Wikipedia Library portal
    Added profiles, goals and activities, news section, social media links, open access file of the day
    Messaged old TWL participants to create profiles
    20 members with profiles in TWL so far
Connect a community of librarians, editors, and research experts together
  • Collated helper list from related wikiprojects and pages
  • Facebook page created and updated)
  • Created contact list of potential members to the TWL advisory council
  • Interviewed several open access leaders, and library professionals
    Peter Suber, John Willinsky, John Dove, Digital Public Library of America
  • Expanded contact list of potential advisory members to the TWL advisory council to include signed-on participants of The Wikipedia Library (offline list due to email addresses)
  • Meetings with leading library Wikipedians:
    Digital librarian and Wikipedian The Interior discussing position as lead librarian for TWL.
    Medical research and open science expert Lane Rasberry
    GLAM leader Liam Wyatt about integrating Wikipedia editors research queries into libraries' workflows
    Aubrey McFato, open access digital librarian
    Quiddity, TWL page curation and account management/library help
    David Goodman about organizing subject guides and New York partnerships
    Daniel Mietchen to discuss library open science and open access
  • Participation in new open access -l mailing list
  • Participation in Code4Lib mailing list
  • Began cultivating TWL participants in pilot leadership positions

Midpoint outcomes

  • 1000 new accounts were approved through HighBeam $(200,000 individual replacement value)
  • Questia accounts were managed and distributed
  • New partership with Cochrane Collaboration for 100 full accounts with first round were distributed $(30,000-80,000 individual replacement value)
  • Exploring partnership with NY Times
  • The Wikipedia Library portal was created
  • 40+ signed up for The Bookmark, the TWL newsletter
  • 20 added profiles to TWL with personal background, strengths and interests
  • Various library projects gathered and connected through TWL navigation tempates
  • Pilot project plans begun in the areas of visiting scholars, API integration, research desk, reference enquiry service, university partnerships, and subject guides. Started outreach to reach out to pilot partners.
  • Relationships built with leading tech and metadata librarians at institutions around the U.S.



The project management fees were used to fund organizing and outreach. So far neither the tech spec nor the promotion has been used. I think promotion and travel funds may be far better deployed by bringing on a library specialist to consult with new projects rather than doing conventional promotion and travel. Most of the online work has not required a budget and is better conducted through skype, emails, and phone calls, none of which require money. It's also quite convenient that the American Library Association's winter conference is in Philadelphia, so I can attend for little to no cost.

I have added a request for $200 for literature related to open access, library and information science, and digital humanities. These books will help me speak capably about relevant areas in the library field, particularly emerging trends and technologies.

So, yes, I am on budget (under budget in fact), but would like to use the promotion funds to bring on a Wikipedian with library expertise to co-facilitate some of the ongoing projects and partnerships.



What is working well

  • Creating a portal for all of our library partnerships has been very useful. We have so many initiatives and experts in our community but I did not feel they previously were coordinated and empowered to work together.
  • There are 8 very inventive pilot program ideas that could each become meaningful projects. We have real leads for each of these projects, interested institutions, library professionals willing to participate, and enormous room for growth.
  • Community interest has been excellent with lots of people creating TWL profiles and signing up for the newsletter.
  • Management of existing partnerships has kept pace with demand for new accounts (where available). One major partnership was renewed, one was formed and deployed, and one is being pursued with NY Times.
  • I have found an ideal candidate to co-facilitate the library partnerships. He is a library professional with an excellent reputation on Wikipedia, an administrator, and a willing partner. I believe he can help me bring these many exciting threads to life.
  • I have reached out to fantastic folks in the library movement: university librarians, technology gurus, open access leaders, and professors.
  • I have developed an increasing understanding of the field of library and information science through phone call, in person meetings, and current literature on the subject.
  • I have built a fantastic relationship with OCLC, the leading library cooperative
  • I managed to use and adapt existing designs to create the portal and profiles (thank you Heather and Siko and Individual Engagement Grants/IdeaLab!), avoiding the need to contract with a graphic designer.
  • I have taken on enormous tasks, dreamt big, and began to scope these projects into small and achieveable pieces.
  • I have admitted my ignorance in areas where I do not yet have expertise, and sought counsel from experts in this field and within our community.

What are the challenges

  • The main challenge is going from community organizing and project planning to implementation and expansion. I have so many balls in the air, all of them interesting and worth pursuing. At the same time, I am not a library professional and am learning as I go with the best approach--what's needed and what's possible. I have at times found myself challenged by the complexity of the library field, which has changed dramatically in the past decade. There are competing metadata standards, an entire emerging field of digital humanities, robust debates in the open access movement, and bureacratic issues with university administrators and licensing agreements.
  • It has been hard at times to really narrow my energies into specific areas. I have been enamored with the brainstorming phase of it all, the outreach, and the new conversations, but I have been more effective at laying plans than implementing them--so far. I think that's ok for the first half of the grant, but in order to have real impact to show by the end of the 6 months, I need to convert all of the positive momentum into realized projects. I'm being a little hard on myself here, as there are already some real impacts and partnerships being explored and formed and tested, but my point is that I've dreamt up extremely ambitious plans and need to make sure I keep balance bringing them to life.
  • I still have too much hands-on management of the individual library accounts. In order to expand our partnerships, I need to delegate granular maintenance and delivery of existing accounts to trusted members of the TWL community.
  • I need to move quickly to pilot programs in the areas I have identified. These proposals are great, but in order to have impact, they need to start, moving out of the planning phase and into the pilot execution phase.
  • I have yet to contact many remaining potential partners. This has been partly due to the initial work of community organizing, but also because I have not yet formed a team of helpers who can take on management of those accounts so I can focus on pursuing new partnerships. I have, however, done the legwork of reaching out to our community librarians and gathering them together through the TWL profiles page and newsletter. The next step is to give them active roles to direct their interest and energy into co-organizing and management of the initiatives.
  • I have yet to re-up our donations with Credo and JSTOR. These are supposed to be lasting relationships and I want to move them from one-off pilots into ongoing partnerships.
  • I have built a program that is on track to expand beyond my potential to manage it alone. This is fantastic, but it requires realistically accepting my limitations with time and energy, and looking for a real partner with whom to develop TWL further. I have a fantastic person in mind who has expressed interest. I believe I can transfer existing funds from the budget to bring him on, and I have utmost faith in his ability and expertise, especially in the library sciences field.
  • I have yet to integrate the Reference Desk into TWL properly. It is still a quite active but separate program and I have treaded carefully so as not to presume too much. There's more outreach to do there.
  • I need to beef up my own expertise in open source debates, library management, and digital humanities. With a politcal science background and teaching experience, Wikipedia editing activity, and outreach efforts to universities and librarians... I still have only an advanced beginners knowledge of this field. It has been sufficient so far, but as I dig deeper with these projects my own knowledge of the field has to keep pace with the program's ambitions.
  • I have not yet built significant partnerships globally, neither in terms of bringing on non-English Wikipedia editors, nor arranging non-English language partnerships. TWL has been focused on ENWP, although I did arrange a great opportunity with a Spanish language medical library; I also mirrored the TWL portal on Meta, so at least it is not completely localized to English Wikipedia. Nonetheless, TWL is primarily an English language, English Wikipedia project at this point, and it eventually needs to grow outward in reach and language.

Next steps and opportunities

More partnerships
  • Reach out to 50 more publishers
  • Approach at least 10 major universities about a potential partnership with their library
  • Seek to finalize collaboration with New York Times
  • Expand Cochrane donation to include spanish language library, and deploy that on ESWiki
Implementing pilot programs
  • Begin Wikipedia Visiting Scholars programs with at least 3 schools
  • Pilot a reference enquiry program with a major library
Coding library tech tools
  • Build a team and possibly hire a coder to finish the OCLC API full text script
  • Develop more technical capacity by partnering with coders and programmers and putting them to work implementing some of the tool development that is being sketched out.
More community
  • Lead 20 new members to create profiles on the Wikipedia library page
  • Send out the first edition of The Bookmark
More co-organizing
  • Appoint a wikipedia librarian to be co-facilitator
  • Delegate management of individual partnerships to trusted TWL member volunteers
More outreach
  • Write an article for Code4Lib journal
  • Visit George Mason University to give the first version of a talk: "The Future of Wikipedia and Libraries"
  • Attend the American Library Association's winter conference and roll out the Wikipedia Visiting Scholars program nationwide
  • Build on the conversations I've had with library professionals to make sure they can get involved and have specific projects areas where they can contribute

Grantee reflection


I love this grant. It's really exciting learning about the library area and I like how it complements my other work doing new editor outreach. I feel like I can serve both beginner editors and our superusers with the combination. I appreciate that the IEG staff has been available for guidance but also stepped back enough to let me sort out most of the kinks myself. It's sometimes hard asking for help, and I'm looking to get better at knowing when and how to incorporate guidance into my plans. And... as usual... this reporting process is begrudgingly extemely useful. It gives shape and story to so many hours of toil. I hate to do it, but I love when it's done.