Chloe Raub 2015-05-22 12:41:14
Wikipedia has a well-documented gender problem—at last count, the Wikimedia Foundation reported that only 9 percent of editors are women.1 While the reasons for this deficit vary, the overwhelming result is that Wikipedia’s articles are biased by a lack of diversity among its editors. As a repository that collects materials that document women’s lives, the Newcomb Archives and Vorhoff Library Special Collections (NAVLSC) of the Newcomb College Institute of Tulane University was eager to participate in efforts to close the gender gap on Wikipedia and improve coverage of women and women related topics. The GLAM-Wiki Initiative In January, NAVLSC joined the GLAMWiki Initiative, a program intended to help galleries, libraries, archives, and museums share their unique cultural resources with the world. Our GLAM page is a hub for all Wikipedia activity: It lists articles that have been created or expanded upon using our collections, as well as existing articles to improve and new articles to create. It can take as little effort as adding a link to an online finding aid to improve an article’s credibility, as one of Wikipedia’s fundamental principles is that articles must be supported by verifiable sources. Linking Wikipedia articles to online archival resources is also a great way to connect people with primary source materials for further research—after all, Wikipedia is the first stop for information for many internet users. The GLAM page is also a space to clearly state our objectives and institutional affiliation, in compliance with Wikipedia’s guidelines on conflict of interest, and to invite volunteers to edit articles using our collections. It is also useful for promoting Wikipedia-related events like “edit-a-thons,” during which volunteers learn how to edit articles using resources provided by the host institution as references. Service-Learning Project NAVLSC has begun to generate Wikipedia content through a two-part service-learning project with students enrolled in Tulane’s History of Reproductive Health course. Students from this class were matched to collections, including a collection of New Orleans Planned Parenthood’s outreach and informational papers from the early 1990s and the papers of women lobbyists and activists for reproductive freedom in Louisiana. Students were asked to “reprocess” their collections as needed, which included tasks such as refoldering, adding descriptive titles and inclusive date ranges at the folder level, and so on. The second part of their project is to create articles on Wikipedia based on their collections, or to add to existing articles. The service-learning project provides students with an opportunity to engage with primary sources and practice writing in an online environment, while improving our collections and expanding their reach to new audiences. Art+Feminism On March 8, NAVLSC participated in Art+Feminism, a global day of editing during which an estimated 1,500 participants from seventeen countries worked to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of women in the arts.2 We were thrilled to offer the first-ever Art+Feminism edita- thon in Louisiana—some participants found out about our edit-a-thon through Art+Feminism’s main website and were excited to learn of a local host institution. Our edit-a-thon included new editor training; suggestions for articles to edit and create; and access to archival collections, books, and art and biographical reference files. Fifteen participants worked to create four new articles and improve eleven existing articles. Volunteers included Tulane students and staff, community members, and an art history professor who joined us from Nicholls State University. Looking Ahead NAVLSC hopes to embed its Wikipedia project in the class curriculums of faculty members who teach gender studies courses at Tulane. Some professors have expressed an interest in requiring Wikipedia contributions as a complimentary facet of their students’ final research papers, and they are excited to find new ways to engage students with primary source research. We also hope to participate in the Wikipedian-in-Residence program, intended to connect cultural institutions with skilled Wikipedia editors. We look forward to working to improve the coverage of women on Wikipedia through these efforts, while increasing public access to the lives and work of the women whose records comprise our collections. In the meantime, to learn more about: NAVLSC’s work with Wikipedia, visit our GLAM project page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/Newcomb_Archives_and_Vorhoff_Library/. Art+Feminism, see http://en.wikipedia .org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup /ArtAndFeminism. GLAM-Wiki Initiative, see http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM. Notes 1 Khanna, A. (April 27, 2012). Nine out of ten Wikipedians continue to be men: Editor survey. Wikimedia Blog. Retrieved from http://blog.wikimedia.org/2012/04/27/nine-out-of-ten-wikipedians-continue-to-be-men/. 2 Summary of outcomes, 2015. (Updated March 12, 2015). Retrieved March 31, 2015 from the Art+Feminism project page: http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Meetup/ArtAndFeminism/Outcomes.
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