The Wikipedia Library/Partners

Wikipedia Library owl.svg The Wikipedia Library


Donor outreach:
Contacting high-quality publishers for donations of free access

The Wikipedia Library aspires to have access to the best available academic and scholarly reference sources in the world. Here is an overview of our existing relationships and our first targets for future partnerships.

TWL has a strong track record of working with database providers. We have worked with over 40 organizations that have donated accounts free of charge to selected, vetted, top Wikipedians. The program is very popular among our volunteer editor base, many of whom do not have access to large, professional databases.

The English Wikipedia sees millions of page views every month, and many of our entries are the top search engine result on that topic. Our content greatly benefits from the research of publishers and databases, and outgoing citation links from articles would benefit databases and publishers by exposing it to our very large readership.

Direct benefits include:

  • Links through Wikipedia's citations to databases, journals, and articles
  • Greater name recognition for partners through being associated with our articles and our donation signups
  • Good publicity from partnering with a very popular free online resource that serves an inspiring global nonprofit mission

The Wikipedia Library takes care of all account management, including vetting suitable recipients for accounts (our criteria include tenure, track record of content work, and account stability), dispensing logins and passwords, and maintaining metrics for how the accounts are used. Publishers and databases simply provide the login information, and TWL takes it from there.

We are available to further discuss these collaborations by phone, email, or video chat for all interested in pursuing a partnership. It has the potential to benefit both our organization and theirs, as well as helping spread properly researched, high-quality encyclopedic knowledge to the world.

Mutual benefitEdit

Collaborating with Wikipedia provides great benefit to our editors and readers as well as to the publishers and databases. We like to work in a way that helps everyone achieve their goals, win-win.

Background: The scope and scale of WikipediaEdit

  • Wikipedia is huge: Wikipedia has over 30 million articles, 4 million of them in English. There are over 16 million images. The site receives 8000 views per second and 500 million unique visitors per month. It's the 6th most popular website in the world. Wikipedia was composed of 2.1 billion edits. It's over 2000 times as large as Encyclopedia Britannica's 2002 deluxe edition.
  • Wikipedia is voluntary: Wikipedia is created almost entirely by volunteers. There are 20 million registered users, but usage follows an internet 'power law'. 130,000 are active each month, and English Wikipedia has only 1,400 administrators... all working for free, with no central control
  • Wikimedia is Global: Wikipedia exists in 286 languages. It is part of the Wikimedia movement, which includes 15 projects covering images, data, dictionary, travel guide, species, quotes, books, source material, wiki software. The sum of all human knowledge in all its parts. All of this content is free for anyone to use, reuse, or even sell. This means that all of the content incorporated into these projects must also be free (with few exceptions for Fair Use).
  • Wikipedia is nonprofit: Wikipedia is facilitated by the Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco, a donor-funded nonprofit with under 200 employees. This is a minuscule staff and budget compared to other for top 10 web companies. We will never accept advertisements.
  • Wikipedia is principled: Wikipedia is built on a foundation of summarizing rather than engaging in debate, with the infamous Neutral point of view as its guiding star. High quality sources are weighed and incorporated in proportion to the reliability and prominence of their content and views. The site relies on information being Verifiable, meaning an editor or reader must be able to ‘look it up’ in one of those reliable sources. Wikipedia's community is driven by a Consensus model of discourse. Rather than voting in a democratic fashion, or deferring to an oligarchy of judges, Wikipedia almost always relies on extensive discussion and compromise to reach agreement. The community places a high value on civility, the ability to treat collaborators with decency and respect.
  • Wikipedia is reliable: In a 2005 study in the journal Nature, researchers found that Wikipedia was at least as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica. Follow-up studies have had similar results. Both encyclopedias were found to have minor flaws. Britannica was a bit better organized. Wikipedia's errors were fixed more quickly, however. Wikipedia maintains reliability with a virtual filter on automated, semi-automated, and human review. Edits are informally peer reviewed post-publication, in a rolling process of vandalism hunting, source-checking, and content verification. The encyclopedia embodies the coders' motto: "Many eyeballs make all bugs shallow". With enough good people involved, anything becomes possible.
  • Wikipedia's use is ubiquitous: If there was any remaining debate about Wikipedia's ubiquitous usage, consider surveys about Wikipedia’s medical content. Surveys found that 50% to 90% of physicians, 35 to 70% of pharmacists use Wikipedia, and 94% of medical students use Wikipedia. Rates of usage are even higher for the lay public, and especially for high school and college students.


  • Access to high quality published sources enhances the encyclopedia's mission, improves our reliability, and enhances the efficiency of vital research.
  • A variety of free sources are available in local libraries, university libraries and through Google (search, news, archives, books, scholar).
  • Free and universally accessible sources are preferable to use on Wikipedia
  • Many sources are not free or not accessible, requiring one to be in physical proximity to a building or have a subscription to view content.
  • Paywalled databases provides access to a variety of sources that Wikipedians would find useful in their regular content work.
  • Paywalled databases are not inexpensive and would be unaffordable to a majority of volunteer editors who work on the encyclopedia.
  • A collaboration between research databases and Wikipedia would be mutually beneficial.

What's in it for Wikipedia?Edit

  • Access to publications without paying a subscription fee
  • Enhanced community relations with a provider of education resources
  • Motivation for expanding programs similar collaborations with research databases
  • Another tool in the community's and editors' bag for improving articles

What's in it for publishers?Edit

Mission advancement
  • Opportunity to improve the content on the largest encyclopedia in the history of the world
  • Deep altruistic motivation to improve a public good which benefits everyone
  • Alignment with organizational goals to spread high-quality information to the public
Exposure and promotion
  • Visibility within the community as having helped out with an essential aspect of site operations
  • Broad promotion of account sign-up opportunities
  • Social media, blog, and newsletter mentions
  • Opportunity to announce partnerships through internal press releases
  • Prominent placement in the Wikipedia Library navigation header
  • Direct links within references back to their websites and articles
  • Publisher credit using the |via parameter of our citation templates
  • Customized userboxes for editors to announce their subscription
High impact on viewership and readers
  • Tremendous leverage of highly trafficked Wikipedia articles, often the most read source on that subject in the world
  • Increased usage of their resources on Wikipedia (prior partnerships have seen 500–600% increases)
  • Wikipedia conducts metrics analysis of entire site data dumps to determine resource usage increases
  • Wikipedia editors provide global exposure to resources beyond the value of purchasing an individual license
  • Greater awareness among readers who follow links that the resources exist and are of useful quality
Security and predictability
  • Only highly active, experienced editors receive accounts
  • Because of strict signup requirements, very little risk of cannibalizing primary revenue streams
  • Wikipedia editors respect copyright and do not plagiarize from articles.
  • Wikipedia editors do not share their account logins
  • Account recipients can agree to appropriate and necessary terms of use
  • Pilot programs with some of the top databases in the world have been tried and tested as successes
Easy and flexible implementation
  • Wikipedia handles the entire signup, distribution, and account management process
  • No contract or formal agreement required
  • Wikipedia handles all customer service issues directly with participants
  • Ability to trial programs with a limited number of accounts
  • Freedom to select whatever number of donated accounts works for the organization
  • Opportunity to review metrics before expanding or renewing partnerships

What it's notEdit

  • A formal partnership or contractual relationship
  • A formal endorsement of one resource over other similar and competing research services
  • An agreement to advertise the resource services beyond what is normally done for the use of any source
  • An agreement to use a paywalled source where free versions of the same publications are available elsewhere



Credo usage increased 500%, from 64 outgoing links to 302 outgoing links, over 4 years.

External Link Growth Resulting from Wikipedia Library & CREDO Partnership


References to HighBeam rose over 6,000 links in under 2 years (from 11,308 to 17,773). Incoming traffic doubled.

External Link Growth Resulting from Wikipedia Library & HighBeam Partnership
Traffic from Wikipedia to HighBeam Research after The Wikipedia Library partnership


Links to JSTOR went from 33,000 in 2011 to 138,000 in 2013.

External Link Growth Resulting from Wikipedia Library & JSTOR Partnership


Incoming traffic from Wikipedia to Questia doubled.

Traffic from Wikipedia to Questia Online Library after The Wikipedia Library partnership