Contributing to Wikipedia

Posted: July 21, 2008 in digital libraries, digitization, library, web 2.0
Tags: , ,

Wikipedia. Love it or hate it, admit it or not, lots and lots of people use it. People continue to express concerns about the accuracy and verifiability of Wikipedia‘s information and rightfully so, but library users are going there for information. Google searches (another favorite of library users) are turning up more and more Wikipedia entries. And librarians are using the site as well. One of the best descriptions of Wikipedia use came from a reference librarian. The basic idea was that when neither the librarian nor the patron know enough about a topic to research it, Wikipedia usually gives a number of relevant keywords and subjects that can guide further research in library resources.

Since USERS ARE GOING THERE, then it’s worthwhile to provide accurate information when and where we can. Now I’m not suggesting that librarians begin poring through the website, ferreting out inaccuracies, and posting updates duly attributed to reputable, verifiable sources. That’s fine if people have the time, but most don’t. No, instead I’m talking about contributing to the wider body of knowledge through Wikipedia when and where it is appropriate.

A couple of days ago I wrote about making some updates to the web pages for our Digital Accounting Collection. As we were talking about the collection, it occurred to me that Wikipedia might be a good place to share information about the collection. An entry might describe some of the collections as well as giving some history on the digitization project. When I came across this University of Florida entry, I was even more convinced that this was a good idea.

I created my account, and started experimenting in the sandbox. I worked with a couple of colleagues to develop the entry, and I posted an entry on the Digital Accounting Collection today. It was an interesting process to work through. Interestingly, this is the first Wikipedia entry for our library — interesting in an ironic sort of way I suppose. The Digital Accounting Collection was our first fully searchable digital collection, so I guess it’s only fitting that our first Wikipedia entry is about this collection.

So there it is. It’s out there. Since we wrote about things that we know and have worked with ourselves, the information is as accurate as it can possibly be to the best of our knowledge.

At least until somebody else edits it.  😉

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