Grants:IEG/The Wikipedia Library/Renewal/Midpoint

The Wikipedia Library

Midpoint report
Sharing progress and learnings from the Individual Engagement Grantee's first 3 months.



Months 6-9 of The Wikipedia Library grant are going well. We have expanded the number of coordinators to 5, started building our first global satellite on Arabic Wikipedia to pilot a book purchase program, lined up one expansion of an existing relationship and one new relationship of journal access donations, partnered with 5 universities to pilot Wikipedia Visiting Scholar positions and test out the OCLC Full Text Tool, built an extension to call out content from the Digital Public Library of America for readers, and authored a feature article in the leading digital library publication.


Goals, what we want to accomplish
  • Move from existing pilots to robust programs: Donations, Visiting scholars
  • More donation partners and more accounts: Expand the number of partners we approach and pitches we make
  • Full text reference tool alpha implementation and promotion, OAuth spec for account management
  • Regularize metrics - regular database link dumps for partners, consolidate into pamphlets and wikipages designed for promotion
  • Community organizing: develop portal further, investigate ways to surface recent activity, highlight calls to action
  • Internal outreach, broadening contributors
  • Define and fill roles for volunteer coordinators
  • Promote TWL broadly outside of Wikipedia
  • Build strategy to go global: pilot with at least 1 other language of Wikiedia
  • New pilots: open access signaling and oa button integration, wikiloves libraries, research desk

Measures of success, what we're aiming for, where we are
  • Create roles for 5 new volunteer coordinators
    Current: 2 of 5
    Gaps: Need a partner coordinator, and another global pilot
  • Regularize usage metrics reports hosted on Labs
    Current: We have what we need for partners for now with manual reports
    Gaps: Single point of failure, but not critical yet, can wait for automation
  • Send out Books and Bytes 5 times
    Current: Pat’s still on it! Nearly 300 subscribers :)
    Gaps: none
  • Identify and onboard 2 trained librarians to co-coordinate TWL
    Current: Coordinator delegation meets this need more scaleably than having 1-2 people for now.
    Gaps: Ivesting in coordinators as a potential pool of full-time partners (Jake’s successor 2-3 years from now?)
  • Form 10 new visiting scholar positions
    Current: Merrilee at OCLC is acting as uni outreach coordinator. 150 targeted, 4 confirmed so far.
    Gaps: Need to fill the positions and then wait for pilot to start, run, and finish
  • Release a working version of the OCLC full text reference tool
    Current: The code is specc'ed, the API is tested
    Gaps: We're waiting for OCLC to update the API https compatibility
  • Create a spec for OAuth integration with at least 1 research donor
    Current: We have more info about OAuth, and a list of leads for writing the spec
    Gaps: Need to reach out to leads for developing spec, and reach out to EBSCO to partner on spec development for their use case
  • Contact 30 new database partners; enter talks with 10; form or renew 5 partnerships
    Current: 30 pitches, 10 talks, close to closing on 4
    Gaps: Need ability scale pitches, especially globally. Need more high-touch approach for top, key partners
  • Receive $200,000 worth of donations (individual replacement value)
    Current: Have 3 new partnerships on deck
    Gaps: Need to crunch value numbers
  • Receive 2000 new accounts
    Current: 625 new accounts so far
    Gaps: Fill 750 unused accounts from pre-existing partnerships
  • Pilot TWL satellites in at least one of German, Spanish, and Arabic communities
    Current: Arabic is being launched
    Gaps: one more, Spanish or German



Involving Coordinators, what the team has been up to

  • Nikkimaria has been vetting and distributing HighBeam and Credo accounts and ChrisGualtieri is handling Questia account requests. The application backlogs have been consistently clear within a day.
  • User:The Interior has been conducting outreach to new donors in our call blitz, writing the Books & Bytes newsletter, and co-planning the Arabic pilot launch
  • User:Johnuniq downloaded monthly link dumps and did a link analysis for Cochrane
  • User:Nischayn22 tested the OCLC full text API against Wikipedia citations and wrote a spec to build the tool
  • User:Mohamed Ouda and User:عباد ديرانية, the new Arabic Coordinators, are setting up the local satellite pages and getting ready to purchase books for editors.

Building Donor Relationships, targeting new access donations

  • Made in person pitches to Duke University Press, NY Times, Oxford University Press, Wiley, Newsbank, Ovid, MIT University Press, Cengage, InfoTrac, Science (AAAS), ArtSTOR, Geo Science World, De Gruyter, and Cambridge University Press, and Royal Society UK
  • Made phone and email pitches to the 20 top contacts prioritized by editor interest in the December survey.
  • Had a high level meeting with 8 LexisNexis department heads.
  • Made progress with IEEE (Xplore Digital Library)
  • Paused EBSCO talks around the issue of OAuth access while we figure out the technical needs of such integration.
  • Oxford University Press expressed strong interest in partnering and we have drafted a memorandum of understanding with them.
  • JSTOR access was extended until to May 31. We conducted a JSTOR usage survey, with 40 responses (40% response rate).
  • Discussions underway with JSTOR about expansion of their donation. We are targeting 500 accounts, up from 100.
  • Refined and expanded the Partner Program page where our main donor proposal lives: Partner Program
  • Did a link analysis for The Cochrane Library which we presented to Cochrane: Link analysis. (We can't yet run the full metrics until Wiley sorts their urls by publication).

Wikipedia Visiting Scholars, individual access through university libraries

  • Contacted 150 libraries, with 40 responses, 10 seriously interested in participating and 5 committed.
  • Confirmed 4 Wikipedia Visiting Scholar positions with George Mason University, Rutgers, Montana State, and University of California Riverside (UCR)
  • Ran signups for GMU. GMU selected (User:Wehwalt) [1].
  • UCR ran kickoff announcement: [2].
  • Collected position descriptions for Rutgers, Montana State, and UCR visiting scholar applications.

Building tech, tools that connect readers to research

FindDPLA (WikipeDPLA)
  • Attended LibHack at ALA, and won!
  • Ocaasi and coder/librarian Eric Phetteplace (Phette23) built FindDPLA, a tool to surface Digital Public Library of America content for relevant Wikipedia articles.
  • Built one-click guided tour to install script with just a click.
OCLC Full-text tool
  • Held weekly planning meetings with Cindy Cunningham and Merrilee Proffitt at OCLC .
  • Confirmed 4 schools participating in the OCLC full text pilot: University California Riverside, George Washington, Rutgers, and Montana State University!
  • Extended Nischay's contract from researching code for tool to writing code.
  • Created OCLC Full-Text API testing pages:[3][4].
  • Coordinated OCLC KB API testing coordinated for pilot partners [5].
  • Created legal/privacy disclosure statement for OCLC Full Text Tool.
  • EBSCO stated need for OAuth integration
  • Met with Chris Steipp at WMF in March to research OAuth integration
  • Collected list of prior OAuth implementators for finding potential code spec authors

Arabic Pilot, going global with TWL

  • Partnered with Wikimedia Foundation through Siko Bouterse, head of Individual Engagement Grants
  • Selected Arabic Wikipedia community as first pilot target.
  • WMF approached Arabic Wikipedia about potential microgrants in a community consultation.
  • Consultation zeroed in on a novel source-access approach, book purchases.
  • Developt Arabic Pilot plan: [6].
  • Held weekly meetings with WMF staff and TWL coordinators to plan pilot launch.
  • Ran local Arabic account coordinator signups.
  • Interviewed, and selected two new Arabic Library Coordinators, Abbad and Mohamed.
  • Tested book purchase mechanisms for and
  • Investigated preload payment options for book purchases.

Library redesign, creating a virtual library space

  • Met with designer to redo the logo, header, font, and page frame.
  • New design incorporates those elements: Wikipedia Library redesign with logo (see this report for the new design!)
  • Created redesigned workflows for book and journal signup pages: Books, Journals.
  • Created resource exchange page workflow: Share.
  • Created localization kit for local adoption and translation: Kit.

Outreach, communicating with external library professionals

Meeting DPLA
  • Met with DPLA head Dan Cohen and DPLA tech lead Mark Matienzo, as well as DPLA staff Frankie and Kenny.
  • Discussed forming a Wikipedia DPLA 'hub' or 'community representative', how to expand FindDPLA to include more national collections, and how to showcase the FindDPLA app on the DPLA website.
  • Spoke with DPLA staff about a WIR position, which we postponed for future talks in the fall.
Chatting with LITA
  • Approached the leadership of the Library Information Technology Association, an ALA division
  • Held online meeting about potential collaborations with the LITA Vice-President
  • Discussed an annual LITA membership to create a LITA Wikipedia interest group
  • Exhibited at ALA with OCLC: In the main exhibition hall at the American Library Association conference, gave away Wikipedia merchandise and pamphlets to attendees highlighting the pilot partnerships. (Thanks to Yana and the rest of the WMF legal team for making mission-aligned event promotion with mission-aligned organizations possible under the new Trademark Policy).
  • Presentated to OCLC All Staff meeting (San Mateo, CA and Dublin, Ohio)
  • Kicked off OCLC partnership with presentation to 20 university libraries at ALA's midwinter presentation on the Wikipedia Visiting Scholar positions and the coming OCLC Full-text access script.
  • Followup webinar with 25 more schools interested in hearing about the two pilot opportunities: Watch, Slides.
  • Presented video on the pilots with Cindy Cunningham (OCLC) to the Public Library Association meeting in Indianapolis: [7].
Other outreach
  • Signpost Feature: TWL headlined the March 5th News and Notes [8].
  • Proposed Wikimania and WikiConfernce USA talks: [9], [10].
  • Visited WMF offices in SF twice (January and March) to meet about library grant and global library expansion.
  • Wrote Books and Bytes newsletter: January,February,March.
  • Presented ‘’WikiOpen’’ to Stanford Medial Library Open Everything speaker series, 50 attended: [11].
  • Attended NISO open access webinar: What is Open Access?.
  • Wrote Wikimedia Foundation blog post for open access/copyright week [12].
  • Ran a feature article in leading library and library tech publication, Library Journal's Digital Shift: Librarypedia: The Future of Libraries and Wikipedia.
  • Presented at Turnitin webinar on Wikipedia's role in education (attended by several librarians): The Future of Wikipedia in Education (700 attended) [13],[14].

Midpoint outcomes

  • Expanded the number of coordinators to 5, including two from Arabic Wikipedia.
  • Cleared all available account signup backlogs and built workflow to keep it from lagging again..
  • Brought all coordinators under a legal privacy framework permitting sharing of confidential information.
  • Completed TWL redesign and incorporated it into a global library satellite kit.
  • Built our first global satellite on Arabic Wikipedia to pilot a book purchase program.
  • Approached and pitched 20 journal partners.
  • Ran JSTOR usage survey.
  • Lined up one expansion (JSTOR) of an existing relationship and one new relationship (Oxford University Press).
  • Approached and pitched 150 university partners.
  • Lined up 5 partners for Visiting Scholar and OCLC Full Text tool pilot.
  • Built FindDPLA, Digital Public Library of America reading tool.
  • Attended the American Library Association midwinter meeting.
  • Authored a feature article in the leading digital library publication, The Digital Shift.



We’re on track with the exception of The Interior’s hours, which are coming in significantly under budget. We put in for 10 hours/wk and have been consistently closer to 5hr/wk. Johnuniq also declined payment as metrics coordinator, opening up $500 to use for another metrics coder, or elsewhere. Nischay’s script cost $1200, which was slightly higher than expected but within range of what we allocated for coding. We have not yet hired or payed for an OAuth specification. Travel expenses will be backloaded, since the ALA annual conference is not until late June (we’ve booked hotel but not other expenses).

note: Patrick Earley (User:The Interior) became a Wikimedia Foundation contractor on April 25th, 2014. He will be paid for his contracted grant work through that point but afterwards will continue on only in an unpaid, volunteer capacity.



What are the challenges

  • A few donors that seemed quite interested in working with us fizzled out of communication. Despite consistent efforts to keep conversations moving, we have seen promising leads go quiet. There's a limit of how much pinging you can do, so we are left to wait and reapproach these organizations in later rounds.
  • Johnuniq can't commit to coding an automated tool for metrics. This means we'll be running metrics every 6 months rather than 3, to keep the workload lower. Money, interestingly was not the issue at all, it was mainly bandwidth and time. Finding people who can deliver technical solutions on a deadline remains a persistent challenge.
  • Despite having the ideal meeting with all of the top LexisNexis department heads, their legal department balked at the licensing issues involved with, as they claimed, giving away content they did not technically own. In an environment where we are seeking donations from for-profit publishers, the licensing restrictions may be a convenient excuse masking a fear of cannibalizing business practices, or it could be a deeper structural problem with the way some publishers are permitted to share content.
  • We are doing a kind of sales, and we have seen that in order to have 2 partnerships work out, you often have to approach 20 - 40 options. This is not discouraging per se, but it inserts a degree of unpredictability about which publishers, companies, or universities will work out. It makes scaling difficult because our growth is dependent on the generosity of others. It remains to be seen if this problem will improve over time as we develop more cachet in the library community, or if we will burn through the interested partners.
  • Getting funds to developing countries is really challenging and has hampered the launch of our Arabic Pilot. Solutions that permit buying and shipping globally, in the Middle East as an example, are not readily available without putting the majority of the burden on local volunteers.
  • My role has shifted considerably towards project management, which is a different skillset and one that you kind of learn on the job. Sometimes there is little for me to do as I am waiting on others to do their part. There's a different rhythm involved in being responsible for things getting done not always being the person actually doing the tasks. Finessing that process to keep things moving without overburdening coordinators or letting time slip away takes some practice.
  • Managing technical projects is not entirely intuitive and I didn't anticipate a major issue with out OCLC full text tool. We discovered, on the eve of when we were supposed to start coding, that the OCLC API wouldn't handle https requests, and our coder had done all his prior testing using http. Now we are waiting for OCLC to implement a change to the codebase and dependent on a busy expert fitting something into their schedule.
  • The Interior is really busy with two other jobs, and fitting in 10 hrs/wk has just not been feasible. Despite his valuable contractions with approaching partners, doing outreach, and planning pilots, there's a risk that in the future other employment opportunities will crowd out time for library work.

Learning pattern


Next steps and opportunities

Priority next steps
  • Bringing in a new partner coordinator
  • Focus library kit for global pitching
  • Turning existing outreach materials/system into a kit that any editor can use to find new partners and pitch to them (developer share crm spreadsheet for group tracking)
  • Continue mentoring coordinators and growing coordinator team
  • Fill 3 Wikipedia Visiting Scholar positions
  • Draft OAuth spec w/ leads from Chris Steipp, & EBSCO
  • Update English Wikipedia TWL with new journal access workflow from kit
  • Promote of available accounts on Wikipedia (have coordinators take lead, notify wikiprojects, run site notice)
  • Arabic pilot continues
  • Investigate possibilities for Spanish/German pilots (build contacts--Maria Sefidari, Hahc21, Aschmidt; Look at non-english journals:Cochrane in Spanish and De Gruyter in German)
  • Make list of 3 high-touch prospective partners (aim for 1000 accounts with broad database scope and get in front of them in person)
Other opportunities
  • Build out FindDPLA (WikipeDPLA) to work as a browser extension and query more national repositories.
  • Actual coding and release of OCLC full text tool
  • Call blitz targeting the 20-30 'medium-priority' research databases
  • Spanish Library launch/German Library launch?
  • ALA annual meeting in June in Vegas
  • Finalize JSTOR, Oxford University, Cochrane Library Spanish, and Royal Society UK partnerships
  • Develop TWL hub on Meta
  • Integrate open access button (OA Button) with Library Resource Exchange
  • Give Outreach/talks at WikiConference USA and Wikimania

Grantee reflection


It's challenging to have so many programs mid-execution. I'm deeply hoping that 3 months from now there will be a lot to show for all of them. At the moment I feel more like I need to tend to my chickens or something, so the eggs, you know, hatch. One surprising thing? Librarians are really strong allies for our movement; somewhere along the last 5 years it seems like a major turning point occurred and the more they hear about Wikipedia the more interested they are.