September 6th marks the end of my time at the Wikimedia Foundation.
At my center has been the belief that I serve the movement above all else.
This was what motivated the creation of a research service for editors in
the first place. Today, it leaves me to look outside the Foundation to how
I can best influence and impact change for the open knowledge community,
and our broadly fractured society.
When I founded The Wikipedia Library in 2011, the course of my life
changed. I became a grantee with an Individual Engagement Grant, guided by
Siko Bouterse and Anasuya Sengupta, to expand TWL. It was a dream fulfilled
to be asked to join the Wikimedia Foundation full-time in 2014 to establish
the program worldwide.
With much mentorship and help, we grew TWL from a one-man, English-only
publisher signup project into an international, multilingual outreach
effort with a global campaign, national convenings, and a functioning
digital library stocked with 100,000 free-to-read scholarly journals. Those
sources can be used to verify information, write new articles, close
content gaps, and remedy systemic bias.
Now, librarians are as likely to be supporters and contributors as they
used to be critics. The movement is full of 'wikibrarians', from the
200-member Wikimedia and Libraries User Group to the 2000 person Wikimedia
+ Libraries Facebook Group. Conferences around the world have strong
advocates for the intersection and alliance of Wikipedia and Libraries.
Along the way I had the true privilege of building a team that gave me
confidence and extremely good company. It's my conviction that good work is
calm, full of humor, and has care for people at its core. I found that
generous spirit heartily alive in my team at The Wikipedia Library. I
cannot thank them enough.
The work is not yet finished and yet it is in good hands. With Sam Walton
in charge of managing The Wikipedia Library, Felix Nartey and Aaron Vasanth
running global outreach, Jason Sherman developing the Library Card
Platform, and a whole crew of coordinated volunteers handling reference
services…much more is still to come.
You can reach out to TWL any time at wikipedialibrary(a)wikimedia.org.
As I look ahead to new vistas, I leave with questions and hope to hear your
thoughts. What needs to be done next? Who could use the most support? Which
organizations are ripe for change? What capacity still needs to be created?
Where can I best advocate and help grow? How can we collaborate?
Email me at jorlowitz(a)gmail.com and share what's on your mind, or just say
It's been a true pleasure to serve our beautiful, messy movement: I
couldn't be more excited to join its ranks again.
Thanks and cheers,