Grants:Project/OCLC/A Wikipedian-in-Residence to Engage 500 Librarians and their Communities/Final

Welcome to this project's final report! This report shares the outcomes, impact and learnings from the grantee's project.

Part 1: The ProjectEdit


Public libraries and Wikipedia share a common goal of expanding access to knowledge, yet relatively few public library staff are active participants in Wikipedia. To address this, the Wikipedia + Libraries project seeks to communicate the value and relevance of Wikipedia to public libraries and their communities, and to provide library staff with the skills to confidently engage with Wikipedia.

Rather than focusing solely on training new editors, the project aims to increase meaningful and sustained engagement with Wikipedia by public library staff. Taking an expansive view, the project defines a range of activities as engagement with Wikipedia—this includes information literacy instruction, staff training, organizing programs, and editing. The training program, a primary component of the project, was designed to meet the needs of public library staff learners, providing the knowledge and skills most relevant to helping them do their jobs and meet the needs of their community members.

A note about this grant

This WMF grant was a supplement to a larger 18-month Wikipedia + Libraries project that received $250,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as a winner of their 2016 Knight News Challenge. The WMF grant funded 12 months of the project’s Wikipedian-in-Residence’s (WIR) 16-month term. Because of the deeply collaborative and thoroughly embedded nature of the WIR’s work for the term funded by WMF, it is not possible to report on the WMF grant without reporting on the work of the entire project team, including those portions not funded by WMF. This report discusses the project through the end of the WIR’s 12-month WMF-funded term (January 31, 2018) and documents outcomes resulting from activities through this period. Project activities continued through May 2018, when the overall, Knight-funded project concluded. In June 2018, links to the Wikipedia + Libraries course training materials (which were curated and consolidated February - May 2018) were added to this final report.

Methods and activities

  • A Wikipedian-in-Residence (WIR) was selected and appointed to a 16-month term (12 months of which were funded by this WMF grant); the WIR, Monika-Sengul Jones, was embedded within the project team, which worked collaboratively on all aspects of the project.
  • The project team engaged in a variety of outreach and communications activities to raise awareness of the project, recruit participants for the training program, and to educate public library staff about the value and relevance of Wikipedia to their work and their communities.
  • The project team designed and delivered a free, nine-week online training program (September 13 - November 15, 2017) for US public library staff to learn how to confidently engage with Wikipedia.
  • Project staff engaged in outreach to the Wikipedia and library communities, building bridges between the communities as part of the project and within the course experience by intentionally fostering human-to-human connections.
  • The training program enrolled 299 individuals, 70% of whom had never made an edit to Wikipedia.
  • Working with an external evaluation consultant, TrueBearing, Inc., the project team developed a project evaluation plan and administered project and training program surveys.

Outcomes and impact

  • Evaluation data show that the training program increased the numbers of participants with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to engage with Wikipedia, and help their colleagues and community members do the same. Course participants reported increases in the frequency and range of their engagement with Wikipedia-related activities. They also reported a transformation of perceptions--their newly gained understanding of Wikipedia helped them see the value and importance of engaging with Wikipedia and created passionate and enthusiastic advocates among public library staff.
  • The impact of participant learnings is being amplified by their enthusiasm to share their knowledge of Wikipedia with their colleagues and community members.


  • The outcomes validate the project’s approach to engaging and training US public library staff to engage with Wikipedia. Researching and understanding the needs of US public library staff and tailoring the learning experience to meet these needs resulted in an effective training program. The course started by introducing Wikipedia as a community and building trust by demonstrating Wikipedia’s alignment with libraries and fostering human-to-human connections with experienced Wikipedians. After participants were equipped with this understanding, they were positioned to learn how to engage with and contribute to Wikipedia successfully.
  • The successes of this project point to exciting possibilities for what the Wikipedia and library communities might be able to achieve if the bridges between them continue to be built and strengthened.

Methods and activitiesEdit

As outlined in the note about the grant in the Summary section, the following reports on the activities of the full project team and the overall project, not just the WMF-supported portion of the WIR’s term.

The midpoint report documents the activities of the first half of the grant term, December 2016 through May 2017.

This report captures project activities through January 2018.

Awareness campaign

The project team continued to engage in a variety of outreach and communications activities to raise awareness of the project, recruit participants for the training program, and to educate public library staff about the value and relevance of Wikipedia to their work and their communities.

Project information and updates have been disseminated via WebJunction and OCLC channels, including, Facebook (Wikipedia +Public Libraries group) and Twitter (project hashtag: #oclcwikilib), Crossroads monthly e-newsletter (23,000+ subscribers), OCLC press releases, digital marketing, and library Listservs. Outputs include:

  • Librarians Who Wikipedia articles series on, featuring interviews with public library staff who engage with Wikipedia (4,837 page views of these articles); and other articles highlighting a range of practical tools and strategies for Wikipedia engagement (a total of 22,000+ page views for all Wikipedia project pages on
  • OCLC Next blog post, Wikipedia the WebJunction Way, and OCLC member story, Empower communities to learn from and share reliable information
  • Q&A with WIR Monika Sengul-Jones featured in the WMF blog
  • A monthly project email update sent to a list of subscribers (currently 344), with open rates between 40–50 percent
  • Hosted Wikipedia for Libraries: Preview the Possibilities, Discover the Opportunities webinar on July 19, 2017. The event introduced Wikipedia engagement to a public library audience and previewed the online training program. Over 700 registered for the webinar, with 412 viewers of the live or recorded webinar session, and another 236 YouTube views. Attendees of the live session came from 40 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and 9 countries. Several individuals live-tweeted the webinar
  • Project team members Merrilee Proffitt and Monika Sengul-Jones participated in a plenary session, Leveraging Wikipedia, at the OCLC Americas Regional Council meeting in Baltimore, MD, which generated numerous social media mentions
  • Project team members and OCLC staff made presentations about the project at Internet Librarian, OCLC Asia Pacific Regional Council meeting, New England Library Association, ACURIL (Association of Caribbean University, Research, and Institutional Libraries) annual meeting, and Panhandle Library Access Network of the Florida Library Association mini-conference
  • Hosted Citations Needed webinar on January 10, 2018, for library staff to gain an understanding of how Wikipedia works and to learn how to meaningfully participate in the #1lib1ref campaign. The 60-minute webinar synthesized and improved upon the lessons learned from the online training program about how to effectively reach library staff. There were nearly 500 registrants, with 270 attending live or viewing the recording. The accompanying Learner Guide, a step-by-step handout providing instruction about adding citations, was distributed widely through WebJunction and social media channels.  

Design and delivery of online training program

The project team drew on the subject knowledge of Sengul-Jones and Merrilee Proffitt (Senior Program Officer, OCLC Research), and WebJunction staff expertise in the design of effective online learning for public library staff to build the training curriculum. The project staff also incorporated library practitioner perspectives and Wikipedia community and advisor input. The curriculum design process also included review of existing resources that could inform course content, presentation approach, and assignments. Examples of the resources that helped inform the course design:

In designing the training program, the project team focused on the factors that would result in the most effective experience for the learner. The team brought their understanding of the needs of adult learners who are public library staff; they have limited time and support, juggle work and life responsibilities, and prioritize gaining the knowledge and skills most relevant to their jobs and the needs of their communities.

To better understand the likely starting point of the program’s learners, the project team collected over 700 responses to “pulse check” surveys and intake questionnaires disseminated to 1,400 staff. The responses indicated that US public library staff had reservations about Wikipedia’s reliability, but believed that it was relevant to their work. Yet, 70% of US public library staff surveyed had never edited Wikipedia. Understanding that public library staff were receptive to Wikipedia and editing it but had not done so pointed to barriers to their engagement. The project team incorporated this insight into the design of the learning experience.

With the sheer volume of Wikipedia content that exists, the project team considered the topics, order, pace, and presentation that would teach participants what they needed to know without overwhelming them. Participants learned through a combination of live presentations, existing tutorials, readings, activities, and assignments. The curriculum reflected the recognition that instruction should explain the why first, before moving onto the how. The course first introduced the Wikipedia mission and community in ways that would resonate with librarians; and only after participants saw for themselves the value of engagement with Wikipedia was the instruction about editing presented.

The project team set up the course’s online learning environment in WebJunction’s Moodle platform. This served as the space to access course materials and live sessions, and to learn and discuss the course content with other participants, instructors, and the Wikipedians who served as guides.

Recognizing the importance of fostering human-to-human connections between the public library participants and the Wikipedia community, the project team recruited and oriented 15 experienced Wikipedians to serve as guides during the training program. The guides provided a welcoming and encouraging introduction to the community and to editing; they shared their experiences, offered guidance, and answered technical questions.

When the course began on September 13, there were 299 enrolled participants. Participants represented 45 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Although the training program was targeted to US public librarians, there were 23 enrolled participants from outside the US. The participants came from a wide range of communities, from urban centers to small, rural communities, with varying service populations. The data from a pre-training survey indicate that at the start of the course, 74% of responding participants looked up or read information in Wikipedia at least weekly but 70% had never made an edit to Wikipedia.

The project team delivered six live online sessions (running from September 13 to November 15, 2017); there were independent readings, group discussion forums, and structured Wikipedia activities between sessions. The full course syllabus can be accessed here. The training program was constructed to increase the participants’ ability to do the following:

  • Describe the nature, characteristics and key principles of Wikipedia
  • Recognize the values of the Wikipedia/Wikimedia movement and understand how the online community works
  • Recognize the shared values shared between Wikipedia and public library communities and articulate the role of libraries to improve Wikipedia’s quality
  • Describe the process of content development
  • Define the criteria and elements that indicate quality and validity
  • Perform editing and content creation in Wikipedia
  • Understand and adhere to Wikipedia policies
  • Guide patrons in the use and evaluation of Wikipedia articles as a resource
  • Describe the characteristics and value of Wikipedia to colleagues/community members
  • Train and motivate colleagues/community members to be successful Wikipedia editors
  • Understand what is needed to plan, implement and facilitate a successful Wikipedia event at their library
  • Use Wikipedia as a research and information literacy resource in a wide range of programming for their community.

The 90-minute live sessions included instruction, reflection, discussion, and interactivity led by the course instructors, Sengul-Jones and Betha Gutsche (Program Manager, WebJunction). The sessions included presentations by experienced Wikipedians who were also library practitioners; they discussed their engagement with Wikipedia in ways that were relevant to the course participants. Each session featured a chat channel where participants engaged in active discussion, interacting with the instructors, guest presenters, and one another.

Between the live sessions, participants worked on assignments in Wikipedia, enabling them to apply what they were learning. The assignments included taking Wikimedia tutorials, evaluating Wikipedia articles, observing Teahouse interactions, editing, and developing plans of engagement for their libraries. Participants were encouraged to discuss their assignments, learn from one another, and support each other in discussion groups of fewer than 30 people. Each discussion group was paired with a Wikipedia guide, who helped explain Wikipedia community rules and norms and provided encouragement to the participants as they took the leap into the editing world of Wikipedia. Guides rotated through the discussion groups every two weeks, so that participants had the opportunity to interact with several different Wikipedians during the course.

Following the end of the course through the conclusion of the overall, Knight-funded project, the team consolidated and curated the training materials for sharing. This process was informed by feedback provided by course participants through surveys and follow-up interviews. These materials include the course curriculum, slides, handouts, and guidance to trainers seeking to run a similar course. The materials are available for download from under the terms of CC BY-SA 4.0 licensing; see Project Resources section of this report.


TrueBearing, LLC, was selected as the third-party evaluation consultant for the project. TrueBearing worked with the project team to develop an Action Map (shown below), which visualizes the logic model for the project to guide evaluation strategy, and to develop and administer the survey instruments.

Wikipedia + Libraries project action map

The evaluation plan identified the priority areas and activities for formative and summative evaluation:

  • Increase in participants’ skills and knowledge of Wikipedia editing and related programming
  • Participants’ confidence to apply what they’ve learned at their libraries
  • Shift in public library staff perceptions of and engagement with Wikipedia.

Components of the evaluation plan include quantitative data (comprehensive pre-, post-, and follow-up surveys of training program participants, as well as informal polling), qualitative data (public library staff interviews, case studies), and metrics (email communication open rates and click activity, website traffic).

A pre-training survey of all who enrolled in training program established a baseline for participants’ knowledge of Wikipedia and their level of engagement.

A post-training survey assessed changes in participants’ level of knowledge and engagement as a result of the program.

A follow-up survey four months after course completion assessed how course participants continued to apply and sustain their learnings.

Building connections

A significant intention of the project is to build a bridge between the public library and Wikipedia communities, in order to foster greater understanding between them and encourage working together to expand access to free and open knowledge. With that in mind, the project team has been cultivating relationships with public librarians and Wikipedians.

To date, Sengul-Jones has interviewed 29 current and former public library staff to gather and share examples of public library engagement with Wikipedia. The interviews confirmed several of the project’s initial assumptions: (1) Wikipedia engagement is most often driven by library staff interest in expanding free access to quality information, addressing information literacy needs, community engagement, and connecting people to library collections; and (2) barriers to engagement include concerns about Wikipedia’s reliability, misunderstandings about notability and the role of primary versus secondary collections, and the perceived difficulty of editing as an employee of a public library (i.e., conflict of interest).

These interviews also helped shape the training curriculum, by illuminating the need to address the following areas:

  • using Wikipedia to connect more people to libraries’ collections
  • using Wikipedia in information literacy activities
  • scaffolding and tools to organize successful Wikipedia programs
  • concerns about Wikipedia and barriers to engagement.

Sengul-Jones and Proffitt have continuously shared and promoted the project within their Wikipedia networks. Sengul-Jones has made connections with Wikipedia organizations, projects, and editors to ensure that Wikipedia/Wikimedia best practices and materials are incorporated into the Wikipedia + Libraries project; that the learnings from other Wikipedia outreach campaigns are built upon; and that the Wikipedia community is motivated to champion the project, help guide new editors, and connect public libraries to Wikipedians. Specific activities include:

  • Following, collaborating with, and sharing out information about the outreach models and activities of AfroCROWD, Art+Feminism, Black Lunch Table, GLAM-wiki contributors, Wikimedia New York City, Wikimedia D.C., Wikipedia Education Program, Wiki Education Foundation and Whose Knowledge?
  • Conducting one-on-one calls, in-person conversations and/or skillshares with Wikipedians involved in libraries, outreach, GLAM-wiki or curious about alternative forms of participation; these are ongoing
  • Represented the project at WikiConference North America and Wikimania conference (August 2017). Sengul-Jones gave a talk at WikiCon NA that presented outcomes of the project’s research and program design process. Proffitt and Sengul-Jones co-convened a global conversation on Wikipedia and Libraries and presented the project’s methodology and approach during this panel. Both presentations invited Wikipedians to apply to serve as a Wikipedia Guide for the training program.  
  • Contributing monthly to the Galleries Libraries Archives and Museums Wikipedia  (GLAM-wiki) online newsletter
  • Participating regularly in Wikipedia + Libraries (600 members; Sengul-Jones is an admin for this group) and Wikipedia Weekly (980 members) Facebook groups
  • Participating in the bi-monthly WALRUS (Wikimedians Active in Local Regions of the United States) call, the collation of chapters and community organizations devoted to outreach in the Wikimedia movement.

The fifteen experienced Wikipedians that were recruited and oriented as guides were (in alphabetical order): Alexandre Hocquet, Avery Jensen, Gamaliel, JacintaJS, Jackie Koerner, Kerry Raymond, Librarygurl, Megalibrarygirl, Megs, Merrilee, PersnicketyPaul, Rachelwex, slowking4, Sodapopinski7, Vizzylane. The guides and course participants got to know one another as individuals (introduced themselves to one another and used their first names, not Wikipedia user names) and interacted with one another in small discussion groups. Course participants also heard from Wikipedians affiliated with libraries as guest speakers, and an early assignment was to observe and reflect on how Teahouse editors carefully and respectfully answered questions. The project team provided participants with resources about connecting with local Wikipedians and user groups.

The project team will continue to build connections between the Wikipedia and library communities through the remainder of the overall project. In January 2018, the project team piloted a new program, We Wikipedia Better Together, an informal online session for course participants and guides to connect, share tips, ask questions, and celebrate successes in realtime on the topic of citations (the event was held during #1lib1ref). Similar ongoing engagement programs to nurture connections between experienced Wikipedians and library staff new to editing are being planned.

Outcomes and impactEdit


As outlined in the note about the grant in the Summary section, the following report covers the activities of the full project team and the overall project, not just the WMF-supported portion of the WIR’s term. This report discusses the project through the end of the WIR’s 12-month WMF-funded term (January 2018), but project activities will continue through May 2018. Because of where OCLC is in the overall project timeline, this report describes immediate outcomes resulting from the awareness campaign and the training program.

Awareness campaign:

The project’s marketing and outreach activities have raised awareness of the project, increased the number of US public library staff with a better understanding of the value and relevance of Wikipedia, and registered over 1,300 library staff to the course and project webinars.

The Wikipedia for Libraries: Preview the Possibilities, Discover the Opportunities webinar introduced Wikipedia engagement to a public library audience and previewed the online training program. Over 700 registered for the webinar, with 412 viewers of the live or recorded webinar session, and another 236 YouTube views.

Post-webinar survey responses indicate that the session was effective in encouraging interest in Wikipedia and the course:

  • 74% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that “My understanding of Wikipedia has increased”
  • 90% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that “My interest in engaging with Wikipedia has increased”

Webinar attendees indicated action they planned to take as a result of the webinar:

  • 70% said they would enroll (or encourage colleagues or staff to enroll) for the Wikipedia + Libraries training program
  • 48% said they would use Wikipedia in information and digital literacy instruction at their library
  • 41% said they would start contributing to Wikipedia
  • 28% said they would organize Wikipedia programs and events at their library
  • 23% said they would seek Wikipedians or Wikipedia chapters to connect with

Respondents also said that they would be alert for opportunities to contribute, use Wikipedia more, and have greater respect for those editing Wikipedia articles. Comments from attendees indicated the webinar’s effectiveness in demonstrating the value of Wikipedia for public libraries, and also emphasized the need for, and sustained interest in, the online training program:

"I found this webinar inspiring for ways to meet patrons where they are and use Wikipedia as a tool for info lit."

"So glad this is being offered. I tried to enter the world of Wikipedia on my own and was a little befuddled by the culture. This is a soft introduction that eases me into the process, giving me confidence and expanding my understanding of how this may benefit patrons."

Nearly 500 individuals enrolled for the Citations Needed: Build Your Wikipedia Skills While Building the World's Encyclopedia webinar, with 270 attending live or viewing the recording. The accompanying Learner Guide, a step-by-step handout providing instruction about adding citations, was distributed widely through WebJunction and social media channels.

Responses to the post-webinar survey indicate that attendees gained a better understanding of Wikipedia, which in turn, led to an increased interest in engaging with it and sharing this understanding with others.

  • 93% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that “My understanding of the subject has increased”
  • 94% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that “My interest in the subject has increased”
  • 95% agreed or strongly agreed that this webinar was a good way to learn about the subject

The Citations Needed webinar condensed the approach of the the training program and synthesized lessons learned from it. The first half of the 60-minute presentation discussed how Wikipedia works, how the community functions, and highlighted alignment with and opportunities for libraries, then the second half demonstrated how to add a citation. Comments from attendees confirm that when library staff see for themselves the value and relevance of Wikipedia to their libraries and communities, interest in engagement and sharing this knowledge with others, and editing naturally follows.

"I sometimes use Wikipedia as a starting point for research, relying heavily on the citations to determine the reliability of the article. Now, I think I will start adding citations of my own."

"I'm inspired to get involved in editing Wikipedia and using it more."

"The webinar opened the door for me to start learning Wikipedia's innards (so to speak); my goal is to bring it into the classroom and teach my students these skills."

"In reference work I have a much broader understanding of Wikipedia and how to show users how to judge the trustworthiness of articles."

"I will be participating in #1lib1ref and urging my whole library to do the same."

Online training program:

Chart illustrating Wikipedia + Libraries training program outcomes: Assessing the reliability of Wikipedia
Chart illustrating Wikipedia + Libraries training program outcomes: Editing Wikipedia

The online training program increased the number of public library staff with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to (1) understand how Wikipedia works and help their colleagues and community members understand and use it; (2) edit Wikipedia; and (3) organize Wikipedia programs. Responses to surveys administered at the start of the course and after its completion* illustrate these gains; here are a few highlights:

  • The number of participants who reported that they understood how Wikipedia works and felt confident explaining it to others increased from 18% at the start of the course to 77% afterwards.
  • The number of participants who said that they did not know how to edit Wikipedia decreased from 61% at the beginning of the course to 2% at the end of the training program.
  • The number of participants who said that they did not know how to organize Wikipedia programs decreased from 69% at the start of the course to 4% afterwards.

See detailed pre- and post-course survey results in the accompanying charts and tables.

Chart illustrating Wikipedia + Libraries training program outcomes: Organizing Wikipedia programs

Participants also reported increased frequency of behaviors that would indicate positive changes in the perception of Wikipedia as useful and relevant, an understanding worth sharing with colleagues and community members.

  • The number of participants who used Wikipedia to look up information at least weekly prior to the course increased from 74% at the start of the course to 94% afterwards.
  • The number of participants who used Wikipedia to find additional sources at least weekly before the course increased from 40% at the start of the course to 60% afterwards.

This increase in use of Wikipedia suggests library staff are more comfortable assessing Wikipedia, and they consider the information in the online encyclopedia valuable and relevant to serving the information-seeking needs of library patrons.

Participants also reported increased frequency of behaviors indicating that they gained knowledge about how Wikipedia works and how to evaluate it, and they were more willing--often, driven--to assist others in doing this. This means an increase in information literacy instruction incorporating Wikipedia at libraries.

  • The number of participants who reported that they helped patrons with determining the reliability of information on Wikipedia at least monthly increased from 22% at the start of the course to 61% afterwards. (Note: a number of course participants indicated that their jobs do not involve direct interaction with the public, and therefore they have little to no opportunity to help patrons with Wikipedia.)
  • The number of participants who helped colleagues with Wikipedia increased from 12% at the start of the course to 48% afterwards.
  • The number of participants who had never made an edit to Wikipedia decreased from 70% at the start of the course to 9% afterwards.

*Survey instruments to evaluate the training program were administered at the start of the course and after its completion. Although 255 participants responded to the pre-training survey and 105 responded to the post-training survey, the following data reporting on the outcomes of the online training program are based on the responses of the 85 course participants who completed both surveys. This ensures that the changes measured are for the same group of individuals at both points in time.

Outcomes: Building connections with public library staff
Participants’ comments and increased engagement with Wikipedia demonstrate a respect for and alliance with the Wikipedia community. This underscores the importance of the project’s emphasis on building trust between the communities and fostering human-to-human connections as prerequisites for success. During the training program, participants came to understand WIkipedia as a community of volunteer editors with a similar mission as libraries. They had multiple opportunities for positive, supportive and meaningful online interactions with the Wikipedian guides. These positive experiences helped set up the participants’ success as they began to engage with Wikipedia. Equipped with an understanding of community norms and values, participants were able to proceed and assume good faith of other editors and read behind the scenes to understand community decision-making processes--processes which can otherwise be challenging or confusing to new editors.

“[The course] really helped me to understand the reasons behind Wikipedia's few rules and the amount of work that goes into creating/editing the articles…The community aspect of Wikipedia was very surprising to me and I was really pleased with the emphasis on respectfully editing and conversing with each other.”

“I think that collaborative aspects of Wikipedia are sadly misunderstood and often mis-stated. The friendliness and support were surprising, but appreciated!”

“The guides were very responsive, knowledgeable, supportive and helpful. I was a beginner at some things, so that was really appreciated. Thank you so much!”

Most of the course guides reported in a post-course survey of continuing contact with course participants after the end of the course. Having relationships with trusted Wikipedians will help sustain new editors in continuing their engagement. Fostering connections between course participants and experienced Wikipedians had positive outcomes for all. The guides reported in project feedback that they found participation to be a richly rewarding experience--they learned about the work of public libraries and staff, they gained insights about the user experience of Wikipedia that could be used in future training and design, and they gained some technical knowledge as well.

“Interacting with the participants has been very insightful and I have even learned a few new things.”
“As someone who does Wikipedia outreach in the library sector, it helps keep me grounded in terms of what librarians want and like in relation to Wikipedia.”

One guide learned about Outreach Dashboard as a result of her involvement with the project; another explained that they were not that familiar with VE and appreciated learning about new techniques; others explained that their participation was useful to their own outreach work. This feedback is suggestive of the importance of sustaining such connections for the valuable fellowship, learnings, and sense of community that is strengthened through the experience.

Progress towards stated goalsEdit

Planned measure of success
(include numeric target, if applicable)
Actual result Explanation
Reach of awareness campaign 21,259 views of project web pages, with additional reach through WebJunction (Crossroads newsletter has 23,000+ subscribers) and OCLC channels (website, press releases, social media activity); project-related webinars received 1,100 registrants; 719 responses to awareness campaign surveys collected As the first project of its kind--Wikipedia awareness and instruction geared specifically for public library staff--the awareness campaign increased the existing information and messaging about the alignment between Wikipedia and public libraries.
Increase in number of public library staff with a better understanding of Wikipedia and its value Percentage of participants comfortable explaining Wikipedia: 18% pre-training, 77% post-training
Number of confirmed participants in training program 299 The grant application outlined a capacity for up to 500 participants. See additional comments below.
Increase in number of participants with knowledge and skills to understand and edit Wikipedia Percentage of participants who said they had some knowledge about how to edit Wikipedia: 39% pre-training, 98% post-training
Increase in number of participants who edit Wikipedia Percentage of participants who said they had made an edit to Wikipedia: 30% pre-training; 91% post-training
Increase in number of relationships cultivated between project participants and Wikipedians Percentage of participants who had connected with a Wikipedia editor or the Wikipedia community: 18% pre-training, 72% post-training
Increase in number of participants with knowledge and skills to host community engagement events Percentage of participants who said they had some knowledge about how to organize Wikipedia programs: 31% pre-training, 96% post-training Data collection is ongoing through the end of the overall project
Number, size and geographical distribution of communities represented by project participants Represented 45 states plus District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Although the training program was targeted to US public librarians, 23 enrollees came from outside the US. The participants were from libraries serving a range of population sizes:
  • 20.8% -- 1 - 4,999
  • 22.7% -- 5,000 – 24,999
  • 18% -- 25,000 – 99,999
  • 24.7% -- 100,000+
  • 13.7% -- Not sure or not applicable
Number of librarians identifying as Wikipedians post project (included as a possible measure in the grant application) Rather than focus on labeling and self-identification, the project team focused on behavior and instead measured indicators of increased public library staff engagement with Wikipedia, such as the range and frequency of their Wikipedia-related activities.
Number of participating Wikipedians that recruit/identify libraries as local partners (included as a possible measure in the grant application) The project team sought to foster a wide range of connections between Wikipedians and librarians, as well as increase the knowledge Wikipedians have about public libraries and the work of public library staff (through Wikipedia guide program, WMF blog and other wiki communications). It was not feasible to determine this number, but feedback from the course guides indicated that as a result of their participation, they increased their knowledge about libraries, the work of library staff, and were more motivated to partner with libraries.

Wikipedia + Libraries project action map

The grant application outlined measures that may be used. After more fully developing the training program goals, the project team worked with an evaluation consultant, TrueBearing, to finalize measures for the project. These are reflected in the project action map (at right).

The grant application described a capacity of approximately 500 library staff participants in the online training program. As the project evolved, the team sought to expand opportunities for instruction beyond the nine-week training program. To date, two additional webinars have been developed and delivered, and the project has engaged over 1,300 unique enrollees in its training program and webinars. The course itself enrolled 299 individuals; of these 236 became editors, between 241 and 109 watched each of the live sessions, and 85 completed all course activities (attendance at all sessions, completion of assignments, participation in discussion forums, submission of engagement plan, and completion of evaluation surveys). Free adult learning programs typically experience a significant drop-off rate; and considering the serious time commitment required to complete the training program, the project team was pleased with the relatively strong level of engagement that was sustained. Beyond the 85 participants who completed all course requirements, many more attended the live sessions but did not complete all assignments. Others did not complete all sessions, but continued to contribute to Wikipedia, based on Outreach Dashboard data. This indicates that course completion is not the only measure of engagement and learning.

Participants who were unable to complete the course were asked for their reasons. Most simply lacked the time (54%); others experienced changes to their work or life situation (21%), and some felt that they had achieved their learning objectives without completing the course (21%). There is interest among library staff to learn about Wikipedia and editing, but the time commitment required of long-term training programs will be a barrier for many library staff, especially those in libraries with limited resources. Training programs that are shorter in length might result in higher registration numbers, although that would limit the amount of content that could be covered. The project team has taken an expansive view of training about Wikipedia and considers the awareness campaign, webinars, and the programs and instruction that course participants are developing as activities that magnify the impact of the project well beyond the training program.

"[I’ve become] a vocal advocate of Wikipedia--I've lost count of the number of people to whom I "talked up" Wikipedia!"

Although the course was geared for US public library staff, a few participants from outside the US were among the program’s most enthusiastic fans and adopters. Two instructors from an Israeli library school modeled a course they are teaching on Wikipedia in January 2018 on the Wikipedia + Libraries curriculum, incorporating and translating the the project’s course materials into Hebrew. They provided feedback that the instruction and materials translated into and worked in Hebrew Wikipedia well. A Pakistani librarian working in Saudi Arabia felt encouraged and emboldened by the opportunity to learn to edit and is planning to train her colleagues from Pakistan, India, Sudan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The grant application explicitly outlined the goal of increasing the number of female editors. Over the course of the project, the team reflected and discussed what the number of female course participants would indicate. Is it enough to increase the numbers of editors who are female to offset gendered and systemic biases? Are there other meaningful ways to improve and measure diversity and the offsetting of gendered gaps on Wikipedia and ameliorating gaps among editors? In the course survey, 84% of participants indicated that they were female, while this is significant, the project team did not want to focus only on numbers as the most meaningful measure of addressing gaps in participation. While our webinars and the training program sought to build confidence among these participants we also showcased the diversity of voices on Wikipedia by highlighting the work of Women-in-Red, AfroCrowd, and modeling other ways to address systemic biases in outreach --such as raising the visibility of stories that are typically underrepresented in Wikipedia during training sessions and with assignments.

Through survey feedback and their engagement plans, participants shared the topics they plan to edit. 58% mentioned local history or local topics; 21% mentioned topics related to women’s biographies, history, and gender studies. A range of cultures and histories were mentioned by participants as topics they want to edit, including African-American history and culture, Hmong community in North Carolina, Caribbean cultures, Islam, Judaism in Morocco, Puerto Rico, and LGBTQI history.

Think back to your overall project goals. Do you feel you achieved your goals? Why or why not?

The project team’s analysis of the project’s reach suggests we have achieved our goals for the project to date. A more robust discussion of the goals accomplished by the overall project will be shared after the completion of the full project in May 2018. At this point, assessing the outcomes to date of the awareness campaign, the training program, and the work to build a bridge between the Wikipedia and library communities, the project team sees that significant accomplishments in all these areas have occurred.

As indicated by the reach of the awareness campaign and feedback from webinars, there is an increased presence and visibility of messages about the value and relevance of Wikipedia to libraries. Awareness of these ideas have resulted in library staff adjusting their perceptions of Wikipedia and being increasingly interested in engaging with it. The training program evaluation and feedback validates the project’s approach. In thoughtfully scaffolding participants’ learning experiences, participants who had not been able to engage with Wikipedia on their own began to do so successfully. As participants shared their Wikipedia contributions, it is evident that--as information professionals with access to a universe of online and offline resources proceeding with great care--they are improving the encyclopedia in meaningful ways. Specifically, they also took to making small contributions, and gaining confidence by adding wikilinks, citations, grammar fixes, and organizing entries. Librarians also had interest in participating in assessments and making reading recommendations. These tasks were specific to the interests of library staff. Course surveys demonstrate increases in knowledge about Wikipedia and confidence in these skills, and more importantly, significant increases in the range and frequency of Wikipedia engagement activities.

A sampling of comments from course participants:

“The process was extremely well-paced! As a total newbie, and hugely intimidated, the atmosphere was informative, at the perfect pace to encourage participation and engagement with the Wikipedia community.”

"I really liked the foundational information at the beginning, talking about the structure and layers of work going on with Wikipedia. I really had no idea that there were so many checks and balances on the articles."

“This changed my perception of Wikipedia and the ways that libraries/librarians can & should incorporate it into our services to our patrons.”

“This course gave me the confidence to feel I had the right to edit and correct things. That cannot be overstated.”

“Maybe the most valuable thing I got out of this course wasn't a particular piece of knowledge, but confidence in my ability to engage with Wikipedia on a professional level, along with the tools to further develop my emerging skill set.”

“[I learned the] value of participation within Wikipedia and how communities can come together with a common purpose to share and learn and save their knowledge.”

"Being a librarian is all about making a diverse amount of information easily accessible and available to all. With Wikipedia, we have a project that so many people use and maintain, and it is just so cool that it is available in our time. The two pillars that most remind me of librarianship are: 1) Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit, or distribute and 2) Wikipedia's editors should treat each other with respect and civility."

"I like knowing that Wikipedia content is free and owned by no-one. As a public librarian, I try daily to encourage equity of access to resources. I feel as if Wikipedia is doing the same (provided users have access to the technology which provides Wikipedia!)."

Global MetricsEdit

The metrics provided below are just one measure of the project--one that is focused on number of editors and contributions. The primary goals of this project--to increase public library staff engagement in Wikipedia, to increase the understanding of Wikipedia by public library staff and their communities, and to strengthen the ties between Wikipedia and public libraries, are not captured in the metrics below. Given the scope and reach of this project, as well as multiple opportunities for Wikipedia engagement, additional rows have been added to comprehensively describe the various overall outcomes.

As of 12 January 2018
Metric Achieved outcome Explanation
1a. Number of active editors involved 236 Active editors who participated in the online training program
1b. Number of active editors involved 23 Advisors, guest presenters, guides
2. Number of new editors 236 Active editors who participated in the online training program
3. Number of individuals involved (total in webinars or training program) 1311 unique registrations
  • Preview webinar: 706 registered
  • 351 participated
  • Course enrollment: 299 enrolled
  • 234 active during course
  • 85 certificates issued
  • Citations Needed: 492 registered
  • 270 participated
  • 1311 unique registrations in total
4. Number of new images/media added to Wikimedia articles/pages 369
5. Number of articles added or improved on Wikimedia projects 749
6. Absolute value of bytes added to or deleted from Wikimedia projects 79,400 This only captures absolute value of bytes added by participants in the online training program, not as an outcome of other aspects of the project

Learning question: Did your work increase the motivation of contributors, and how do you know?

Yes; a significant theme that emerged from the participants’ comments (in the post-training survey and in the discussion forums) was a significant shift in perception: a transformation from being doubters and lukewarm users to being thoroughly convinced of the value and importance of engaging with Wikipedia. A sampling of comments from course participants:

"In the space of taking this course, I went from no editing knowledge at all to feeling very comfortable with the process. I'm looking forward to teaching others!"

"At the start I had a mild enthusiasm for Wikipedia. I now feel strongly that our library system should embrace it and make it a part of the programming and reference sources."

"[I’m surprised] that I'm actually excited about Wikipedia. I was really dreading taking this class, but wanted to learn about Wikipedia because I didn't know much about it other than that we shouldn't use it."

"I was one of 99% of users who think of Wikipedia as a less reliable source. I must say that this course was an eye opener… I am a changed librarian now. A librarian who feels the worth of Wikipedia, crowdsourcing, and contributing to the larger community."

This enthusiasm for Wikipedia--originating from knowledge of how it works, seeing mission alignment, and understanding Wikipedia as a community--is motivating public library staff to contribute to Wikipedia and to share this understanding with colleagues and community members. By the end of the course, a number of participants considered Wikipedia to be more than simply relevant to their jobs--they are working to incorporate Wikipedia engagement into their official job responsibilities and adding it to recommended staff competencies. This, in turn, will lead to the project’s ripple effect--more library staff and more community members gaining this understanding of Wikipedia will amplify and sustain the effect of the project participants’ learnings. When public library staff are passionate and enthusiastic advocates for Wikipedia, it creates exciting possibilities for the two communities to work together to advance the availability of reliable, free information for all.

Indicators of impactEdit

How did you increase the reach (readership) of one or more Wikimedia projects?

The course resulted in enthusiastic buy-in from librarians, now equipped with a better understanding of the value and relevance of Wikipedia, who then went on to show their colleagues and community members how to use and engage with it. Because of the position librarians occupy as a source of information for their communities, the impact of their perceptions and use of Wikipedia is magnified. When library staff communicate that Wikipedia is valuable and advocate for its use to patrons and students, this results in more community members using Wikipedia--and using it smartly.

In survey responses, participants indicated that they were motivated to share their learnings about Wikipedia with colleagues to better serve their communities. They see colleagues with inaccurate and negative perceptions of Wikipedia as doing a disservice to the information seekers they serve. As one participant explained:

“As I have been talking with my colleagues about this class, almost EVERY person has said, 'but we tell people not to use Wikipedia!' I actually thought the same thing myself before taking this class, and I'm glad to say my mind has been completely changed. It makes me want to reach out to [my colleagues] to do a training that they can use with their students and teachers that come in for research. I can all but guarantee we are steering people away from a good place to start their research.”

A number of participants wasted no time in using their position to expand the reach and readership of Wikipedia. Colleagues at a public library in Nebraska found the course to be a catalyst for changing their approach to teaching research skills. One of them described her transformation:

"I, too, used to poo-poo Wikipedia… now I consider myself a convert. I am pushing its value to help students be critical consumers of information."

The Nebraska librarians' revamped research instruction to a group of middle-schoolers using Wikipedia impressed the teacher so much that she asked the librarians to speak with school administrators about its value--Wikipedia is currently blocked for students.

A librarian at a university library sensed that colleagues, faculty, and students were unsure about the place of Wikipedia in higher education. She convened panel discussions that sparked great conversations about using Wikipedia in the classroom; as a result, many had their eyes opened to its value, and a number of faculty members have contacted her about incorporating Wikipedia into their courses. Another course participant held an information literacy session about using Wikipedia for her public library patrons in January; many have already shared their knowledge with colleagues; and based on the plans of engagement submitted, many more events and programs that will expand the reach and readership of Wikipedia are underway.

The project’s awareness activities also expanded the reach of Wikipedia by first understanding public library staff concerns and perceptions about it, then tailoring messaging to demonstrate the alignment and value of Wikipedia to libraries.

Project resourcesEdit

Links include resources from the project as a whole, not just the outcome of the efforts of the Wikipedian-in-Residence.

Project website

Outreach Dashboard for Wikipedia + Libraries training program

Evaluation materials:

Wikipedia for Libraries: Preview the Possibilities, Discover the Opportunities webinar

Citations Needed: Build Your Wikipedia Skills While Building the World’s Encyclopedia webinar


Training materials from the Wikipedia + Libraries course, including curriculum, slides, learner guides, handouts, and reading lists are available for download from WebJunction's Wikipedia + Libraries Training Curriculum web page. The materials may be used and adapted for free under the terms of Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 (CC BY-SA 4.0) licensing. CC BY-SA 4.0 terms stipulate attribution ("Created by WebJunction, a program of OCLC" or, if space is limited, "By OCLC WebJunction"), linking to source materials, and sharing new adaptations under the same license agreement.


What worked wellEdit

What didn’t workEdit

Throughout the project, the project team encountered moments for reflection and learning, as well as moments where things didn’t quite work as planned:

  • Wikimedia Commons. Public library staff had more questions about and interest in Commons than was anticipated. This was not an explicit part of the curriculum or project design, but clearly an area of interest.
  • Gnome editing. As mentioned, library staff were very interested in making assessments, small improvements, and reader’s advisory than expected. The team was able to adapt the course in midstream to support and champion their efforts! Perhaps more explicit information on article assessment would be helpful.
  • Moodle course organization. The length of the course made it so that the information ran in one very long HTML page in the WebJunction Moodle space. An improved page layout would help participants navigate the course space more efficiently.
  • Forum organization. Participants remarked that the forums could be difficult to find; and multiple sign-ons could make the experience trying. WebJunction reduced barriers to entry and places where they needed to check in, but further user interface improvements are needed.
  • Managing expectations of course participants and Wikipedians outside the target audience. The program sought to meet the needs of US public library staff, most of whom had never edited Wikipedia and may not have advanced degrees in library science. The project team focused content and delivery on this audience. However, a few vocal participants and Wikipedians wished for content to cover other topics, and needed explanation as to why topics such as WikiData or authority control were not covered. The project team sought to manage their expectations while remaining focused on the learning needs of the target audience.

Other recommendationsEdit

This project offers insights for organizations looking to work with a Wikipedian-in-Residence (WIR). Based on the successful outcomes of the project, OCLC considers embedding a WIR as part of the project team an effective and productive approach. OCLC’s WIR position differs from many other WIR roles, which are often subject matter experts who retain a certain separateness from the organization--a position focused on Wikipedia activities.

In recruiting for this project's WIR, the OCLC team considered effective communication, outreach and engagement as requirements of the position, equally as important as Wikipedia expertise. The WIR was embedded into the project team at every level of this deeply collaborative project. There was a prolific and generative flow of information and ideas among all project team members: the WIR shared knowledge about the Wikipedia community, norms, and technical expertise; while WebJunction staff shared knowledge about public libraries and effective instructional design for adult learners working in public libraries. The convergence of these skill sets, perspectives, and knowledges resulted in the success of the training program and the overall project. Success factors included the careful consideration of what the project needed from the subject matter expert beyond Wikipedia expertise, a highly collaborative working relationship where all project team members contribute their strengths and perspectives to meet project goals--a collaboration where the WIR is truly a member of the team. Because OCLC’s WIR position required many other skills and strengths beyond a knowledge of Wikipedia, the team has reflected on whether “Wikipedian-in-Residence” is an appropriate title for this role, since that implies a prioritizing of Wikipedia expertise over other equally necessary requirements.

Next steps and opportunitiesEdit

  • Course participants’ enthusiasm for sharing their learnings with colleagues points to a need for training focused on guiding library staff on how to teach others about Wikipedia that follow the “first why, then how” approach.
  • Library staff are uniquely aligned with Wikipedia in ways that benefit both communities but there is not yet a visible community of “librarians who Wikipedia” (some participants preferred the term “wiki-brarian”). There is need for a space where library staff new to editing and library-affiliated Wikipedians can connect and work together collectively to expand access to knowledge.
  • There is tremendous opportunity to rethink how information literacy is taught, and to engage library staff to leverage Wikipedia to teach these critically needed skills to community members-- ranging from middle schoolers to retirees.
  • The project fostered trust between Wikipedians and course participants, which led to library staff buy-in and engagement with Wikipedia. How could this be scaled beyond the course context?
  • As an increasing number of libraries see the relevance of Wikipedia, will there be enough library staff in the pipeline to enter the field with the needed Wikipedia skills?
  • Course participants from outside the US were enthusiastic adopters of the course and its approach; there is a significant need for similar Wikipedia training programs across the globe.
  • The project was successful in developing a pool of library staff as new editors, but what about potential editors who aren’t going to teach themselves and don’t have resources to devote to this kind of training program? How to best reach and serve them is an ongoing challenge; the next project should address some aspect of this.

April 2019 update: OCLC has been awarded a contract with the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Training Program to adapt our Wikipedia+Libraries: Better Together course to include a focus on health and medical Wikipedia topics. The revised and shortened course will be offered for free to both public and medical/health librarians in the fall of 2019, in preparation for an editathon that NNLM will sponsor in November. There will be an informational webinar about the course this summer. The idea for this project came to us from one of the participants in the original course, Kim Gile.  

Part 2: The GrantEdit


Actual spendingEdit

Expense Approved amount Actual funds spent Difference
Consultant Fees for full-time Wikipedian-in-Residence for 12 months

(an additional 4 months is being supported by a Knight News Challenge Grant)

70,000 USD 70,217.38 USD 217.38 USD in interest earned on grant funds applied toward WIR’s 12-month term
Total 70,000 USD 70,217.38 USD 217.38 USD

Remaining fundsEdit

Do you have any unspent funds from the grant?

Please answer yes or no. If yes, list the amount you did not use and explain why.


If you have unspent funds, they must be returned to WMF. Please see the instructions for returning unspent funds and indicate here if this is still in progress, or if this is already completed:


Did you send documentation of all expenses paid with grant funds to grantsadmin, according to the guidelines here?

Please answer yes or no. If no, include an explanation.


Confirmation of project statusEdit

Did you comply with the requirements specified by WMF in the grant agreement?

Please answer yes or no.


Is your project completed?

Please answer yes or no.

Yes, the 12-month term of the Wikipedian-in-Residence funded by this WMF grant is complete. This grant supplemented a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant for the Wikipedia + Libraries project. Wikipedia + Libraries project activities continue through the remainder of the Knight grant term ending May 31, 2018.

Grantee reflectionEdit

One thing that surprised us was the degree to which participant perceptions of Wikipedia were transformed. It was thrilling to witness that when library staff were thoughtfully introduced to Wikipedia, it was possible to move them from somewhat skeptical and lukewarm about Wikipedia to enthusiastic fans and advocates. It was a unique privilege to be part of a transformative learning experience!

Libraries and Wikipedia share a common goal of expanding access to knowledge. Being a Wikimedia Foundation grantee has provided OCLC and its WebJunction team with valuable opportunities to strengthen the ties and build bridges between our communities.

This project has been an experience filled with tremendous growth, learning, and possibility. Although we knew of the natural alignment between Wikipedia and libraries when we proposed the project, there was much about Wikipedia we did not know. The ability to work closely with the Wikipedia community--by embedding a WIR on our project team and through connections developed because of the project--enabled us to learn so much about the nature of Wikipedia and its community, and to better understand the ways to bring our communities to work together.

Never having collaborated with a distributed organization before, aspects of Wikipedia’s community, its rules, and its norms required some adjustment. But we also gained a better understanding of the things the Wikipedia community does well that libraries should do more to emulate--being bold, dynamic and comfortable with change, and having a visible presence online where information-seekers are. Working with a community that operates differently from libraries brought into focus the things that libraries do well that could enrich the Wikipedia community. Over the course of this project, we appreciated being able to shine a light on the important work that public libraries do, and on public library staff’s civility, mutual support, and public service orientation that could benefit Wikipedia. We feel that many exciting possibilities lay ahead for what these two communities could achieve working together and we look forward to future collaborations that will advance our shared goals.