The Welsh Wicipedia becomes gender neutral.
The Welsh Wicipedia has become one of the first Wikipedia’s in the world to offer as many articles about women as it does about men.
Historically Wikipedia has struggled to attract female editors, who make up around 15% of Wikipedia contributors globally, and this is reflected in the imbalance of content being created.
Addressing this gender imbalance has been a strategic priority for Wikimedia for some time and Wikimedia UK has been working with partners in Wales to help put things right.
The National Library of Wales, have been partnering with Wikimedia UK for several years have been doing their bit to encourage more Women to edit Wikipedia.
Last year the Library took part in the global Art and Feminism Edit-a-thon, which takes place in hundreds of locations around the world. This was the first time the event was held in Wales.
This year the Library’s Wikimedian in Residence will be helping a Machynlleth community group to run their own Art & Feminism Wikipedia event.
The library’s award winning volunteer team has also been getting stuck in, with 10 women volunteers now contributing weekly to Wikipedia projects.
The fact that the Welsh language Wicipedia exists at all is testament to the resolve of the people of Wales not just to preserve the Welsh language but to see it flourish, but a Wikipedians work is never done! Why not give editing a try?
Hundreds of new articles created, thousands of images shared and millions of hits on Wikipedia
It’s been a year now since I began my journey into the world of Wikipedia. My brief was simple enough – get people editing, engage the community and embed an open access ethos at the National Library of Wales.
With 18 billion page views a month it seems that Wikipedia is most peoples’ one stop shop for information of any kind, and across the world top cultural institutions have been teaming up with the giant encyclopaedia in order to share their knowledge and their growing digital collections. The Nations Library’s goal is to provide knowledge for all, and Wikipedia is just one avenue being used to share that knowledge.
Making Wikipedia better
Wikipedia has not been without its critics, and its policy of inviting anyone and everyone to contribute means that some articles have certain shortcomings. To help remedy this and to better represent Wales on Wikipedia, a number of community events, or ‘Edit-a-thons’, have been organised to train new Wikipedia editors on a number of subjects from Medieval Law to the Rugby World Cup.
Over 100 people have volunteered to have a go at editing during organised events, and Wikipedia’s introduction of the new ‘Visual Editor’ has made contributing even easier.
A volunteer improving Wikipedia articles relating to WWI at a Public Edit-a-thon event
Staff and members of the Library’s enthusiastic volunteer team have also been busy working on Wikipedia related projects, and with 6.5 million printed books in the Library vaults there is no shortage of information to be added.
Through the course of the year it has also become apparent that Edit-a-thons act as a gateway for community engagement. They help engage the public with the library, its collections and with Welsh heritage in a flexible, inspiring and subtle way.
The Library began digitising its collections nearly 20 years ago and has now amassed hundreds of thousands of digital items representing all aspects of Wales cultural heritage. More recently a major shift in policy meant that they no longer lay claim to copyright of digital images, if copyright in the original works has expired.
This open access policy has led the library to start sharing parts of its digital collections on Flickr, and social media. During the residency the library have taken the next step towards openness by sharing nearly 8000 images with Wikipedia’s sister project Wikimedia Commons, where they are freely available to all without any restrictions.
Already, National Library of Wales images have been added to over a thousand Wikipedia articles in more the 70 languages and since those images were added, these articles have been viewed nearly 33 million times, highlighting the incredible exposure Wikipedia can facilitate.
Statistics highlighting the impact of sharing images via Wikimedia Commons
Improving content and sharing collections are both crucial aspects of the residency but it is equally important that the benefits of activities are clearly recorded and shared with others.
Demonstrating impact certainly made it easier for the Library to extend the residency, and one of the library’s major partners, People’s Collection Wales have taken big steps toward open access and a sustainable relationship with Wikipedia.
One of the first things I did as a Wikipedian was to delve into the world of Twitter as a way of networking and sharing news about the residency, and this has led to great exposure both for the Library and for Wikipedia in Wales. Community events and digital content shared with Wikimedia Commons has caught the eye of news agencies, magazines and bloggers alike.
Infographic highlighting advocacy work during the first year of the residency
Together the Library and Wikimedia UK were able to extend the residency beyond the initial 12 months and the post is now funded until August 30th 2016.
Work on improving Wikipedia content will continue in English and in Welsh and thousand more images will be made available via Wiki Commons.
Images from the National Library of Wales on Wikimedia Commons. (left to right) Powis Castle 1794, ‘Boy destroying Piano by Philip Jones Griffiths, The siege of Jerusalem from the medeival ‘Vaux Passional’ manuscript.
Existing partnerships will be built upon, but I also want to reach out to other Welsh cultural institutions and encourage them to get involved in any way they can.
One of the biggest challenges between now and August will be finding ways to get Wikipedia into the education sector – to encourage young people and their teachers not to ignore the enormous globe shaped elephant in the room, but to engage with it responsibly.
Finally, all credit to the National Library who have embraced Wikipedia. With their open access, knowledge for all, ethos and my residency has been supported at every turn. Steps are now being taken to ensure that the legacy of the Wikipedian will be long and fruitful, helping ensure that Wales, its people and culture are well represented on the world’s biggest ever encyclopaedia.
Jason Evans, Wikipedian in Residence
Digital copies of some of the most important maps held by the National Library are now available online for the first time. They include the oldest map in our collection, a printed copy of Ptolemy’s 2nd century map of Britain. Ptolemy’s ‘Prima Europe tabula’ is one of the earliest printed maps of the British Isles. It was originally published in 1486 in Ptolemy’s Geographia and is notable for the vivid blue sea; still as fresh and vibrant as the day it was painted. Claudius Ptolemy was one of the first cartographers. His work was rediscovered in Europe at the end of the 14th century and printed copies of this work helped to kick-start the cartographic revolution in Europe in the 1500s.
You can also see Humphrey Llwyd’s Cambriae Typus, the first printed map to show Wales as a separate region along with Christopher Saxton’s more accomplished but unpublished proof map of Wales from 1580 and a whole series of of 16th and 17th century county maps of Wales. The collection of nearly 40 maps is being released via Wikimedia Commons and Peoples Collection Wales.
As the Wikipedian in Residence at the Library, I have been releasing digital content into the public domain via Wikimedia Commons – a vast collection of free to use digital media – since January. Until now, this platform has been used to share digital content already available on National Library of Wales websites, but it struck me that it could also be used to share digitised material still waiting to be ingested into the Library’s online catalogue. By hand picking a small selection of such items, the images and relevant data can be uploaded manually to Wikimedia Commons, making them available to the public for the first time. In theory images could also be shared with other platforms, such as Flickr or Peoples Collection Wales in exactly the same way.
The upload of these maps is part of a trial to monitor the impact of releasing content in this way. We will be monitoring the use of these image on Wikipedia and beyond and thinking about how we could engage the public in reusing the images or creating better data or how such material could be used to educate and inspire.
Wikipedian in Residence
Last Friday night, we traveled down from Aberystwyth to Swansea to show the 1950 comedy film, Valley of Song, at the Taliesin Arts Centre, as part of the National Library’s annual Outreach programme.
The film was preceded by a local archive film, Come With Me Swansea. Made in 1952, it gives viewers an insight into 1950s life in Swansea through the eyes of local people, including Leonard Bruton, a Foreman at the Tinplate works.
Swansea City Council leader, Cllr David Phillips officially welcomed the National Library of Wales to Swansea, before the audience sat back to enjoy the films. 225 people attended the screening, and it’s the largest crowd that’s ever attended a public screening arranged by us.
The reaction of the crowd after the screening was very enthusiastic, with a lot of people showing a lot of interest in forthcoming events organised by the Library in Swansea.
If you’d like to own your own copy of the film, in early 2013, Studio Canal will be releasing Valley of Song on DVD. They will also release the 1949 classic, The Last Days of Dolwyn on DVD. These releases are a collaboration between Studio Canal and The National Screen and Sound Archive of Wales.