Grants:Programs/Wikimedia Research Fund/Leveraging Wikidata to Describe and Provide Access to Heritage Collections

statusnot funded
Leveraging Wikidata to Describe and Provide Access to Heritage Collections
start and end datesJuly 2023 - July 2024
budget (USD)30'000 USD
fiscal year2022-23
applicant(s)• Beat Estermann

Overview edit


Beat Estermann

Affiliation or grant type



Beat Estermann

Wikimedia username(s)

Beat Estermann (User:Beat Estermann)

Project title

Leveraging Wikidata to Describe and Provide Access to Heritage Collections

Research proposal edit

Description edit

Description of the proposed project, including aims and approach. Be sure to clearly state the problem, why it is important, why previous approaches (if any) have been insufficient, and your methods to address it.

It has been a while that GLAMs have started to add pointers to their archival holdings on Wikidata (currently there are approx. 100’000 such pointers). In 2019, several Swiss GLAMs carried out pilot projects both for the ingest of such pointers into Wikidata and with regard to the use of this data in a library discovery system [1]. Currently, the approach is beeing further refined in the context of the WikiProject Performing Arts, laying the basis for a “WorldCat” of the performing arts, providing pointers to a variety of artefacts documenting this ephemeral art form [2]. There are currently three major challenges with regard to the further propagation of the approach among GLAM institutions:

(i) harmonization of data modeling practices across the GLAM sector when it comes to describing collections on Wikidata;

(ii) development and promotion of applications making use of the data (e.g. in discovery systems);

(iii) identification and promotion of effective learning / training settings to teach GLAM staff how to add data about their collections.

To tackle these challenges, the project provides:

(a) a status report regarding the ingest of data about heritage collections in Wikidata as well as the development and deployment of applications making use of such data, along with recommendations in view of the harmonization and more effective propagation of such practices and applications.

(b) a comparative evaluation of current learning / training offers targeting GLAM staff and/or other people interested in contributing information about GLAM collections on Wikidata, with recommendations regarding their promotion and future development.



Personnel edit


Budget edit

Approximate amount requested in USD.

30'000 USD

Budget Description

Briefly describe what you expect to spend money on (specific budgets and details are not necessary at this time).

WP1 - Status report regarding the ingest of data about heritage collections in Wikidata and deployment of applications making use of such data (desk research, data analysis, interviews, focus groups, report). /15K

WP2 - Comparative evaluation of learning / training offers (desk research, interviews with providers of such offers, user tests, focus groups, report) / 15K

Impact edit

Address the impact and relevance to the Wikimedia projects, including the degree to which the research will address the 2030 Wikimedia Strategic Direction and/or support the work of Wikimedia user groups, affiliates, and developer communities. If your work relates to knowledge gaps, please directly relate it to the knowledge gaps taxonomy.

Knowledge as a Service: Provision of structured data is a key element of this strategic direction. Data about heritage collections and pointers as to how to access relevant material are core features of a free/open knowledge base providing access to the world’s knowledge and cultural heritage.

Knowledge equity: Linked open data about GLAM holdings worldwide, along with freely accessible discovery systems making use of this data regardless of organizational boundaries, are cornerstones when it comes to promoting knowledge equity. Further sensitization is required to encourage GLAMs to provide online access to digitized content. The principles of [5] will be taken into account when assessing tools.


Dissemination edit

Plans for dissemination.

Main target groups are (a) GLAMs, (b) providers of discovery systems, and (c) providers of learning / training offers targeting GLAM staff.

Project results will be disseminated at national and international conferences in the GLAM sector by institutions and providers of discovery systems that are already making use of the approach. International cooperation and use of synergies among providers of learning & training offers will be promoted, laying the basis for propagation to further countries.

Past Contributions edit

Prior contributions to related academic and/or research projects and/or the Wikimedia and free culture communities. If you do not have prior experience, please explain your planned contributions.

B.E. has moderated the Hackday Series that led to the development of the pilot projects mentioned above. He is in contact with the ETH Library in view of the full deployment of the approach to the production version of their discovery system and from there to Swisscovery [6].

With the Swiss Archive of the Performing Arts, he is currently implementing a pilot project in view of the creation of a “Worldcat” for the performing arts.

For an overview of publications, see [7].He has been involved with the Wikimedia community since 2009, for an overview of his most important engagements see [8].




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