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Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons at Countway, Schlesinger

To mark Open Access Week, two Harvard libraries taught participants how to create and edit Wikipedia pages.


Wikipedia LogoOctober 29, 2013—Schlesinger Library and the Center for the History of Medicine (CHoM) at Countway Library both held “Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons” in conjunction with Open Access Week, October 13-20, 2013.

At CHoM, participants from Harvard, Simmons College, Boston University and Dyer Memorial Library, among others, helped to edit the Warren Anatomical Museum’s Wikipedia entry, and learned tips and tricks along the way.

Software developer and Wiki-enthusiast Adam Hyland—who has made around 20,000 edits to Wikipedia pages—led the workshop. Hyland stressed the importance of providing ample and reputable sources in entries because “nobody knows you’re an expert in the subject matter.” Hyland also emphasized the “Five Pillars of Wikipedia”—the guiding rules for site editors and users—and explained Wikipedia’s dual DFDL/CC-BY-SA copyright license, meaning that copies or meaning that adaptations of the work may be be distributed as long as they're cited and put under the same license as the Wikipedia articles.

Emily Gustainis, head of collection services at CHoM, organized the event with support from Carolyn Hayes, processing assistant at Countway. “Creating Wikipedia entries for Center collections is an important step in making our collections discoverable and broadening our user community. Embedding the history of medicine in a wide range of contemporary medical subjects to inform practice is at the heart of our mission; that we are doing so with an open resource is even better.”

Amanda Strauss and Jenny Gotwals of the Schlesinger Library organized a parallel event at Schlesinger Library, which focused on Massachusetts women’s history. Maia Weinstock, a Wiki-enthusiast, editor, writer and producer of science and children’s media, guided the workshop. She shared the basics of citing in Wikipedia and uploading images to Wikimedia Commons, and noted that only 10 to 15% of Wikipedia editors are women. “Schlesinger Library aims to help change that statistic, and at the same time raise awareness of our holdings on amazing women and organizations, who are often absent from Wikipedia,” Strauss said.