Happy birthday – 15 January 2016 marked fifteen years of Wikipedia.
Wikipedia has had, over the years, a slightly prickly reception from some academics and librarians, a common complaint being that because ‘anyone can edit it’ it isn’t reliable. Some have discouraged use of it, some have barred students from citing it in papers, whilst others love it and the skills and expertise that using and contributing to it can bring, as well as seeing the unique role that librarians can bring to it. It certainly seems that pretty much everyone is using Wikipedia, and so it makes sense that libraries can help teach the most effective way of using it. Wikipedia itself agrees, saying that “librarians are fundamental allies to the mission of Wikipedia”. In fact, it seems that Wikipedia has agreed with the advice not to use Wikipedia as a primary source, saying that it should be used as a “place to start your research” but is “not an authoritative search”, and describing it as “a first stop for researchers”. I certainly use it in my studies in this kind of way – as a starting point, a summary, an introductory place to find links to authoritative sources on a subject I’m unfamiliar with. Despite initial concerns about Wikipedia, it does seem that it has more recently become viewed – by library professionals as well others – as more reliable and usable, and Wikipedia is only too keen to return this love to librarians.
- Look at the Wikipedia loves libraries campaign which you can get involved with each year.
Find a Wikipedia Library Intership.
- The GLAM-Wiki initiative is also something libraries can get involved with.
Could you be a Wikipedian in residence?
Contribute to Wikipedia.
What do you think? Do you use Wikipedia in your studies or professional life? Do you purposely avoid it? Do you think libraries have a role in teaching about how to use it?