I'm CCing the public GLAM lists as well, since you've already made this announcement publicly.

This is awesome. Providing reference services is one of the areas where libraries can provide unique value to Wikipedia and the people its content serves. We've in the past been more often concerned with the unique collections of institutions, especially museums and archives, so this kind of service is really exciting. I hope is becomes a model.

(I can't help but wonder if your departure from the NLA will affect the longevity of the project; curious if the reference team is carrying the relationship without your continued involvement.)


On 6 May 2014 22:29, Liam Wyatt <liamwyatt@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Australian Wikimedians, cultural partners list,
(also cc'ing Ed, in case the Signpost might like to mention this).

TL;DR - The National Library is actively requesting Wikipedians ask reference questions and links to the service are now on all Wikiproject Australia templates on WP article talkpages. Blogpost: http://www.nla.gov.au/blogs/behind-the-scenes/2014/05/07/ask-a-librarian-now-virtually-everywhere Direct link to the free service: http://www.nla.gov.au/askalibrarian

Over the last year working here at the National Library of Australia, I've been trying and find ways to bring the National Library's reference team closer to the Wikimedia community - for mutual benefit. They provide a free service to help the public (not necessarily only Australians or people with [free] library cards) to find and learn how to access reference materials. It is particularly useful when they can point people to the unique resources of the NLA collection but that's not a limiting factor!

So, having got the team to talk to Jake Ocassi (from 'the wikipedia library') a while ago, and the debating how to do this in a mutually-acceptable way (both WP and NLA have strict privacy policies for example) we came up with this:

To link directly to the Ask a Librarian service from the Wikiproject Australia template on talkpages and, when applicable to the article, to the equivalent service in the relevant State Library. Managing the actual coding and design was spearheaded by user:99of9.

We investigated having even greater integration (e.g. having the librarians be able to receive and respond to questions on-wiki or for the 'email this user' function to be used to create a ticket in the Ask a Librarian system [called ref-tracker, similar to OTRS]), but this would have required too great a change to workflows - at least for never-before-tried concept.

So, having sought and received consensus both among the Library staff, as well as on the Australian Wikipedians Noticeboard, the system was enabled! See, for example the last line of the wikiproject Australia template for [[Darwin, Northern Territory]] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Darwin,_Northern_Territory As you can see this is directed at Wikipedia editors not readers. Ultimately we're just talking about a series of external links, but the significance in my opinion is that Wikipedia has accepted the usefulness (and philosophical compatibility) of this service enough to allow thousands of external links to be auto-created - something that would normally be forbidden. Equally, it is a great precedent for the library community here (and internationally?) to see Wikipedians as a potential usergroup of their services that they really want to engage with. After all - answering a reference enquiry from one person helps that person, but answering a wikipedian helps thousands!

The service has been in place for a few weeks now and has been used several times successfully by Wikipedians. We can't say who, or what article they improved because the Library privacy policy forbids publishing identifiable information about customers. However, today I pressed publish on the Library's blogpost on the topic, written by the biggest champion of the idea within the reference team - Renee Wilson (also cc'd):

It talks about other forms of getting in contact via social media but the real meat from WP's perspective is near the end:

Wikipedia editors know the importance of using reliable sources to improve articles, and that the most authoritative sources aren't always available online. Our Ask a Librarian team can help you uncover verifiable information, so you can have confidence in the references that underpin your article. Trying to track down some particularly elusive source material? We can help you add dimension and detail to your article by shining a light on Australia's cultural record in our unique collection items. 

By making the Ask a Librarian service more accessible to Wikipedia editors, we are helping to make authoritative information about Australia available to the world. You can read more information about the project on the WikiProject Australia/Ask a Librarian documentation page. We've already received some great questions from Wikipedians - the kind that really let us apply our trademark librarian rigor. We look forward to receiving many more, and seeing your articles flourish!

So, I'd really appreciate if, the next time you're looking for a reference or stuck trying to improve an article - go here and submit an enquiry http://www.nla.gov.au/askalibrarian Tell them you're a wikipedian and which article you're trying to improve. (equally, feel free to tell others e.g. retweet this https://twitter.com/nlagovau/status/463845761176711169 )


Peace, love & metadata

Cultural-Partners mailing list
Please treat emails sent to this list as confidential.Ask senders for permission before forwarding emails off-list.