Tag Archives: Wikimedia
Several years ago the National Library of Wales appointed the Worlds first Wikidata Visiting Scholar. The volunteer, Simon Cobb, has worked with the library ever since to share, enrich and explore the library’s data using Wikidata – a massive open access linked data repository which contains tens of millions of pieces of data on just about every subject imaginable. In this guest blog, Simon presents his recent work, using open library data on periodicals, publishers and printers in conjunction with the latest Wikidata visualization tools. Jason Evans, National Wikimedian.
Recent developments in Wikidata have made it possible to display more items from the National Library of Wales’ collections on a map. A cluster feature in the Wikidata Query Service map view has enhanced geolocation data visualisation and the new geoshape datatype provides access points for content discovery.
Previously, the display of geolocated images was hampered by only one item per coordinate location being shown on the map. Since a SPARQL query can return multiple results with an identical location this was never an ideal situation. The problem is, in fact, inherent to linked data because every item with a specific relationship to a place will appear at exactly the same point on the map. This is due to the coordinates being attached to the place rather than each individual item.
If the item is an image of Aberystwyth Castle, it depicts the castle and, conversely, the castle is depicted by the image. This is a semantic relationship between the subject (image) and object (castle). The location of the castle is recorded as latitude and longitude coordinates, and thus a query to show on a map the location that the image depicts will use these coordinates. Other images that depicts Aberystwyth Castle will also have these exact coordinates.
The marker cluster plugin was implemented to address this problem and it is now possible to view two or more items with the same coordinates. Nearby map markers are grouped using an animated clustering functionality to display an increasing number of clusters, with fewer markers in each, as one zooms in closer. The real gamechanger, however, is the spiderfied markers. Rather than having a solitary marker at a shared location, multiple markers now spiral outwards from a central point, with legs being used to retain their attachment to the precise location and thus show all items in situ.
Spiderfied markers of periodicals published in Carmarthen. Unexpanded clusters and single markers are also shown. Each marker contains the periodical’s title, place of publication and cover image (if available). This map is available at: http://tinyurl.com/ycnjsylv.
Carmarthen is an important town in the early history of printing in Wales. Some twenty-eight titles in the Welsh Journals and Welsh Newspapers Online digital collections were printed in the town, with twenty-six being first issued before 1900. These periodicals have the same place of publication (i.e. Carmarthen), and thus appear on the map at their shared coordinates. The markers are spiderfied, colour coded according to decade of publication and arranged in a chronologically ordered spiral, starting in the centre with the earliest publication.
In late 2017, a new geoshape datatype was implemented in Wikidata. As the name suggests, it is for storing geographic information in a manner that will produce shapes on a map. Geoshape data can be a single marker at a specific point, a line between two or more points, or a shape, known as a polygon, which is the area enclosed by a point-to-point line, traversing at least four points, with the first and last point being identical. A line or shape is created by structuring geocoordinates to represent the relationship between a series of points; somewhat like a dot-to-dot puzzle. Additional data about a place, such as the address, postcode, website or Wikipedia article, can be attached to a geoshape.
The National Library of Wales was the UK’s first Wikidata geoshape. The popup information box includes an image, link to the NLW Wikipedia article and SPARQL queries of the Library’s collections. Markers indicate features of interest and provide images from different vantage points.
Since a geoshape can contain multiple points, lines and polygons, it is possible to store data about a group of related locations like, for example, buildings with a similar use. This is a great way to visualise the booktrade locations in Wales that have been added to Wikidata.
Multipolygon geoshape data showing book trade locations in Carmarthen, past and present. These locations and those in other parts of Wales are stored as a single geoshape in Wikimedia Commons (see https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Data:Book_trade_in_Wales.map).
Whilst the book trade locations geoshapes are relatively simple and, therefore, not burdensome to create manually, others, like, for instance, those of castles depicted in the Welsh Landscape Collection, are much more complex. The intricate geoshapes that are formed by sections of perimeter wall between towers or bastions and surrounding the bailey and keep of a castle can be slow and fiddly to make but, luckily, we can draw on linked data instead. A link is forged when an OpenStreetMap feature is tagged with a Wikidata ID and this enables a SPARQL query to retrieve OpenStreetMap data about Wikidata items in the results. Such linking can make a large amount of existing geoshape data accessible.
Geoshapes of buildings shown in the Welsh Landscape Collection prints shown in the historic counties of Wales. The buildings are OpenStreetMap features, tagged with the qid of a Wikidata item returned by a SPARQL query, imported as geoshape data and combined with historic county geoshapes from Wikimedia Commons.
Geoshapes of buildings shown in the Welsh Landscape Collection prints shown in the historic counties of Wales. The buildings are OpenStreetMap features, tagged with the qid of a Wikidata item returned by a SPARQL query, imported as geoshape data and combined with historic county geoshapes from Wikimedia Commons.
The results of a SPARQL query to retrieve images from the Welsh Landscape Collection can be visualised on a map with geoshapes to represent the building depicted. Shown above, the results for Tintern Abbey are spiderfied to expand a cluster of images with an identical geocoordinates from a single point within the geoshape. Previously, it was only possible to display one of these images on the map view results.
Simon Cobb, Wikidata Visiting Scholar at the National Library of Wales
Just days after the National Library announced they were employing the Uk’s first, and world’s second, permanent Wikimedian I travelled to Montreal in Canada for Wikimania – the largest annual Wikipedia conference.
As the name suggests this is an exciting event, bringing together Wikipedians from all around the world, along with hundreds of ‘Wikimedians’ people involved in other Wikimedia projects such as Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons.
Before the main conference got underway I embraced my inner geek and attended the first day of the Wikimania Hackathon. As the National Library of Wales begins to open up its data to the world, we hope we will soon be hosting our own hackathons, inviting developers and programmers to develop new tools, apps and even games, powered by Welsh cultural heritage data.
So taking part in the Wikimania Hackathon was a hugely valuable experience. There were some great outcomes, from improvements to Wikipedia itself to a colour blindness simulator for digital images. So keep your eyes peeled for Welsh Hackathons soon!
Day two was the Wikipedia Medical Conference. In remote parts of the world Wikipedia is the only source of medical information for millions of people, including doctors! In a sector dominated by English language information, Wikipedia provides a platform for health related content in local dialects.
I spoke at the Medical conference about the National Library’s upcoming Wici-Iechyd (Wiki Health) project, aimed at providing free access to important health information in Welsh on Wicipedia, and I had some great discussions with the Wiki project Medicine team about how we can best achieve our goals, and about how they can support our project.
Day three marked the official start of the Wikimania conference, which was opened, as is traditional, by Jimmy Wales himself. With the recent banning of Wikipedia in Turkey, Jimmy was keen to highlight the importance of free access to impartial and accurate information.
The conference schedule was diverse with many threads running simultaneously. I took part in many workshops and informal discussion groups about Wikipedia’s relationship with the cultural sector, known as GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) in the Wikiverse.
What struck me was the range of projects taking place around the world, from volunteer projects aimed purely at improving Wikipedia content about a GLAMs collections, to long term wiki collaborations. The National Archives and Records Administration of the United States, the only other institution with a permanent Wikimedian on their staff, has agreed to share all their digital content with Wikimedia on an open licence. They have already uploaded 130,000 images and frequently run events and outreach programmes aimed at making use of these images, and improving Wikipedia generally.
As the conference progressed I was surprised by the number of volunteers and Wikimedians who now look to Wales, and to the National Library of Wales as role model and an inspiration when running their own projects. This was particularly true of those working with small or minority languages.
Our success in engaging the Library, volunteer communities, the Welsh government and partner organisations with the Welsh language Wikipedia has been noticed by many, and I had some fantastic conversations with Wikimedians from Russia, Finland, Estonia, Brittany, and more, about how we can learn from each other to ensure our languages are able to thrive on Wikipedia and other online environments.
I presented a poster session on the Wikimedia UK residency at the National Library and there was plenty of interest in the work we carried out, and how we achieved our outcomes.
As with last year’s Wikimania, Wikidata sessions were hugely popular. This massive linked open data resource is growing rapidly and offers huge potential for GLAMS to share and develop open data for their collections. Many GLAMS, including the National Library of Wales are already sharing data with Wikidata, but we heard from Beat Estermann of E-Government Institute of the Bern University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland that Wikidata is now being used to enrich library catalogues, and I think this method of drawing open data into core library metadata offers some exciting opportunities.
Another big theme of the conference was the planned development of Wikimedia Commons, the website which hosts millions of freely licenced images used on Wikipedia and beyond. The metadata behind these images will be converted to structured (linked) data making it far easier to search, analyse and visualize this massive media archive.
The National Library of Wales has innovated in this area, with the help of it’s Wikidata visiting scholar, by converting detailed image metadata to Wikidata, a very similar data structure to the proposed Commons data, and I have been invited to advise the development team as the new website takes shape.
Despite the dominance of the English Wikipedia, the Wiki movement is truly global, and that was reflected clearly at Wikimania. What is exciting is that the National Library of Wales is at the forefront of this movement, employing new tactics, technologies and techniques to make sure Wales is properly represented online and to ensure that the Welsh language Wicipedia continues to grow and to build upon its status as the most viewed Welsh language website on the web.
Generating Article Placeholders on the Welsh Wikipedia
The Welsh Language Wicipedia already punches above its weight with seventy thousand articles. That’s roughly one article for every eight Welsh speakers. But now a student in Germany has developed a new tool which can fill in the gaps on Wikipedia by borrowing data from another of Wikimedia’s projects – Wikidata.
The aim of this new feature is to increase the access to open and free knowledge in Wikipedia. The Article Placeholder will gather data, images and sources from Wikidata and display it Wikipedia style, making it easily readable and accessible.
Currently the Article Placeholder is being trialed on a few smaller Wikipedia’s and after a consultation with the Welsh Wicipedia community it was agreed that we would activate the new extension here in Wales.
The most obvious advantage of this functionality is the easy access to information which has not yet been included on Wicipedia, and with 20 million items in Wikidata, it’s not short on information. This in turn should encourage editors to create new articles using the information presented in the Article Placeholder.
But perhaps the most exciting aspect of using Wikidata to generate Wikipedia content, is that Wikidata speaks hundreds of languages, including Welsh! This means that many pages it generates on the Welsh Wikipedia appear entirely in Welsh.
If the Wikidata entry being used hasn’t yet been translated into Welsh, the Placeholder will display the information in English, however it is now easier than ever to link from the Placeholder to the Wikidata item and add a Welsh translation. And plans are underway to hold Translate-a-thons with Welsh speakers in order to translate more Wikidata items into Welsh.
It is hoped that embedding this feature into the Welsh language Wicipedia will provide Welsh speakers with a richer Wiki experience and will encourage more editors to create content and add Welsh translations to Wikidata, cementing the place of the Welsh language in the digital realm.
Wikimedian in Residence
National Library of Wales
A guest post by the National Library’s Wikidata Visiting Scholar
More than three-quarters of the 4,800 prints in the Welsh Landscape Collection have now been added to Wikidata as part of the Linking Landscapes project, which was launched in April. The goal of this project is to create high quality Wikidata for the entire collection, with every print being represented by an item in the database and linked with other items by statements that capture the characteristics of each work. In order to achieve this goal, metadata for the collection have been converted into statements that are comprised of Wikidata properties and values, thus forming links between the prints and other entities in the database. The properties correspond to metadata elements, such as title, description, artist, publisher, date, medium etc., and the values can record temporal or quantitative data, such as publication date and dimensions, or can link to related Wikidata items. These items can be the people involved in creating and distributing the prints, such as artists, engravers, printers and publishers, production methods like etching, aquatint and mezzotint engraving, subjects depicts, for example geographic locations, and descriptors of image content, which can include objects, concepts and activities.
After the initial process of assigning a Wikidata property to each metadata element and structuring the metadata in a spreadsheet so that it was in a suitable format to upload via the Quick Statements tool, it was possible to replace a large amount of the semantic metadata with the Qxx number of the corresponding Wikidata item. Metadata for approximately 3,000 prints were fully converted into Wikidata statements in this manner, which enabled the project to progress quickly. Lists were generated of the geographic locations/features, artists, and publishers that remained in their semantic form due to either the absence of an equivalent Wikidata item or lack of necessary information to identify and/or disambiguate them.
Most of the publishers have now been identified using a combination of the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) and British Book Trade Index (BBTI) databases and the information, such as addresses, contained within the prints themselves. In many cases, the publishers and artists overlap, particularly where the publisher is a lithographic printer or print seller for example, and the same resources, along with Benezit Dictionary of Artists, have, therefore, also been valuable for identifying and describing artists and engravers in the collection. The information gathered from these sources has been used to create Wikidata items for some 150 publishers and, if possible, a statement containing the VIAF identifier has been used to link these data to existing authority files. In the instances where a publisher does not have an entry in either VIAF or BBTI, it has been necessary to conduct further research to identify them, drawing on a range of digitised newspapers, directories, books and documents. Bring together the information available in range of dispersed sources has the potential produce interesting, and somewhat unexpected, results, as the example below shows.
The Library of Congress’ copy of the fourth edition of John Hicklin’s The hand-book to Llandudno has been digitised and we find, bound in the back of it, sixteen pages of publisher’s advertisements under the title Catherall and Prichard’s hand-book to Llandudno. Although Catherall & Prichard were co-publishers of this book and, as stated in the colophon, they were also responsible for its printing, the mere presence of the colophon before these extra pages and the change in running head confirm that they are not part of Hicklin’s work. This well disguised supplement was included by Catherall & Prichard, who evidently seized the opportunity to increased their earnings on this title by selling advertising space to local traders, thus providing them with a medium through which they could promote their establishments to an audience of Victorian tourists who purchased this travel guide, which had been published in London, Chester and Bangor, before or during their visit to the Queen of Welsh Resorts, Llandudno. These advertisements are a valuable source of information concerning several of the publishers in the Welsh Landscape Collection.
The firm Catherall & Prichard, comprised of the Chester bookmen Thomas Catherall and George Prichard, was itself responsible for publishing around eighteen of the prints during their partnership; Catherall also issued nearly one hundred prints under his name alone. At the foot of the third page of Catherall & Prichard’s hand-book, William Bridge (1808-86), a bookseller and stationer based in Conwy, who published around fifteen of the prints in the collection, advertises the Llandudno branch of his circulating library which, in addition to lending books for a fee, offered visitors to the town a selection of newspapers from London and the provinces every Saturday, presumably received in the weekly delivery of books and periodicals that he received from London. Indeed, Bridge’s Llandudno premises seems to have catered for the tourist market, which flourished after the town was connected to the railway network in 1858, with ‘views’, i.e. prints and photographs, and hats, both straw and fancy, for ladies and children amongst his range of souvenirs. On the very same page is the advertisement of another bookseller, Herbert Ellerby (1817-95). Unlike Bridge, who lived and worked in Conwy all his life, Ellerby was new in town.
Herbert Ellerby was born in York, the fourth born child of William (1771-1839) and Martha (1783-1859). His father was a shoemaker in Leeds until he became a travelling agent for the Religious Tract Society, and it was due to the responsibilities of this role that the birthplaces of his six children were distributed between Leeds, York and Whitby. The family crossed the Pennines when William Ellerby established a Religious Tract Society bookshop at 31 Piccadilly, Manchester and it was here that Herbert cut his teeth in the book trade. After William Ellerby died on 6 July 1839, Herbert supported his mother, who had signalled her intention to carry on trading from the Religious Tract Repository in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser of 20 July 1839. Shortly after the Repository had relocated to Market Street in 1842, the booksellers were trading as M. Ellerby and Son, an acknowledgement of Herbert’s role in the business, and their advertisements were a regular feature in the Manchester Guardian, until the announcement of their closing down sale appeared in the 17 March 1849 issue of the same newspaper.
Three months later, Herbert Ellerby and his wife Sarah, who he married in 1845, their daughter Maria, and Mrs Ellerby senior were the only cabin passengers on board the Lima when it set sail from Whence, London for the four month journey to Port Jackson, Australia. The crossing does not appear to have been entirely to Ellerby’s satisfaction. In a letter, published in the Sydney Morning Herald, 31 December 1849, he recounted how ‘many of the passengers … [were] victimized to a considerable extent’ and described ‘the conduct of Dr [John Dunmore] Lang’, who chartered the Lima, ‘as cruel and unjust in the extreme’. It seems that his discontent did not end there, for the Moreton Bay Courier reported that Ellerby had sued two of his fellow passengers in a dispute over the conveyance of his luggage. After a bad start to his life down under, Ellerby completed the purchase of fifty-five acres of land at Moggill, Brisbane, for fifty-five pounds, in March 1851. It was reported that he planned to use fourteen acres to grow cotton. It is possible that he was successful in this venture, since on 20 January 1855, the Cheshire Observer and General Advertiser noted that a warehouse in Todd Street, Manchester belonging to Herbert Ellerby had burnt down, destroying cotton with a value of £60. The Ellerbys had sailed back to London in March 1854, with two additional members, daughters Jessie and Francis who were born during their time in Australia.
Herbert and Sarah Ellerby arrived Llandudno their three daughters and his mother, during the summer of 1856 and established a bookshop, known as the Central Library, at Tudno House, Church Walks where they had taken up residence. Ellerby’s time in the town is well documented by the advertising and directory listings in The North Wales Chronicle and Advertiser for the Principality, which reveal that he was lending books for a penny per day in 1858, when his first promotional material appeared. In the 24 July 1858 Chronicle we find Ellerby’s announcing a recently published ‘1s. packet of Llandudno Views’, which he ‘offered at 9d’. It is possible that this packet contained some of the prints in the Welsh Landscape Collection, which were engraved by Rock & Co., and published by H. Ellerby in late August and early September 1857. Amongst these five prints, there is one that is distinguished by an initial W., partially erased but not replaced with an H., leaving a gap before the family name. On another print, we find the name W. Ellerby intact, an indication that Herbert’s elder brother, the printer and publisher William Porter Ellerby (1812-81), who was based in Manchester, had some connection to the business in Llandudno.
By June 1859, Ellerby’s Central Library had relocated to new premises on Mostyn Street, as depicted in prints by Day & Son (above) and W. Banks & Son, and he was now offering ‘a great variety of stereoscopic slides … [and] photographs of Welsh scenery’, in addition to his standard range of views, maps and guide books. Indeed, Ellerby seemed determined to cater to even the niche tourist markets and he announced in the Carnarvon and Denbigh Herald and North and South Wales Independent of 11 June 1959 that he had published J.M. Coley’s Medical guide for visitors at Llandudno, which he would post to anywhere in the United Kingdom for seven penny postage stamps. Facing competition from two other libraries in the town, Ellerby strived to make his new bookshop the premier haunt for the literary holidaymakers, and he bolstered his own list by offering ‘a selection from Mudie’. If any confirmation is required of just how enticing the town’s libraries were to its visitors, it is provided by Mr Morrell, who advertised his boarding house on Church Walks as ‘situated within three minutes’ walk of the public baths, libraries, and promenade’. But relations between the competing librarians must have, on the whole, remained amiable, for Ellerby published a series of photographic views in collaboration with the postmaster Mr Powell and one of his rivals, Mr Stavely, who could offer his subscribers, in addition to his library stocked with Mudie’s books, a reading and news room, billiards, and warm or cold showers and baths. This innovative combination was apparently not a success and the enterprise was wound up in July 1862. The original premises of the Public Baths, occupying the site of the present-day Grand Hotel, can be seen in one of the prints published Ellerby.
On 14 July 1859, Martha Ellerby died, aged 76. In the years that followed, Herbert Ellerby focused his energy on the Central Library, with his advertisements increasing in both size and number as he promoted his latest publications and new products. However, the loss of his youngest daughter, Henrietta, aged 17 months, on 15 November 1862 seems to have sapped the ambition from Ellerby. He ceased advertising entirely during 1863 and even in the following year those advertisement that carried his name were limited to new titles that listed the booksellers in the town who had stock on hand. Then, on 4 February 1865, an advert appeared in The North Wales Chronicle offering ‘For immediate disposal, A bookseller and stationer’s business, the best in the Town, and thoroughly established.’ Although, Ellerby does not elucidate his reasons for selling, he does reveal that ‘the time is limited’ and states sufficient reasons for the relinquishment will be given. Tantalisingly we are not privy to that information, but it seems probable that his hand was forced by events elsewhere. The London Gazette, 10 February 1865 documents the dissolution of a partnership between one William Porter Ellerby and Frederick Augustus Banks, who were advertising agents operating as Ellerby and Company, on the very same day that the Central Library was put up for sale. The extent to which Herbert Ellerby was exposed to the debts incurred by this concern is not known, but he found a buyer for his business within a month and the only further details of his departure from Llandudno are provided by George Felton of the Mostyn Estate Office, who had been instructed to sell Ellerby’s remaining belongings, household goods including his furniture and carpets, by auction at the Central Library on 14 March.
Ellerby left Llandudno with his family in the spring of 1865 and worked as a bookseller in Sandbach, Cheshire, for some years before moving to Manchester where he lived with his daughters. On 26 April 1895, Herbert Ellerby was admitted to Manchester’s Withington Workhouse, and died there a few weeks later on the 9 May. He is buried in Brooklands Cemetery, Sale, Cheshire, alongside his wife Sarah, and daughters Ethel and Marion. Even though Herbert Ellerby spent less than a decade in Llandudno, he is linked to the town by the prints and books that were published at the Central Library and the output his marketing campaign.
Hopefully, as the remaining items from the Welsh Landscape Collection are added to Wikidata more details will emerge about the artists and engravers who created these prints and the printers, publishers, booksellers and other traders who disseminated them. The activities of some of these individuals are not well documented so it will be fascinating to see if queries in Wikidata can reveal links between their work and others in the book and print trades in Britain during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And even if no connections are discovered in the course of this project all is not lost because there is always the potential for a Wikidata item to link with another item in the future when more collections are added to the database.
Volunteer Wikidata Visiting Scholar
National Library of wales
A world first
Since the National Library appointed a Wikipedian in Residence in January 2015 many interesting and exciting collaborations have occurred, and the Library is now pioneering a brand new idea – Give a Wikidata expert access to Library metadata so that they can turn it into linked up Wikidata.
The idea of a ‘Wikipedia’ Visiting Scholars is not new, and the scheme, which gives volunteer Wikipedia editors free access to Library collections, has been run by the Wikipedia Library in the United States for several years, but bringing in a Wikidata specialist to work with data sets, as a visiting scholar, is a world first.
Wikidata is a linked database that can be read and edited by both humans and machines. It contains millions of pieces of data on all sorts of subjects, which all link together to form a hive of knowledge and, like all Wiki projects any one can contribute and reuse the Wikidata for free.
A sample of the Library’s huge Geoff Charles photographic collection. Collections can easily be explored geographical using Wikidata.
Wikidata was used to create this Histropedia timeline of National Library Collections with Wikipedia articles.
The first Wikidata Visiting Scholar is Simon Cobb who recently graduated Aberystwyth University with an MA in Information and Library Studies and now works for Leeds University Library. On becoming our Wikidata Visiting Scholar Simon said;
“I will be working to add some of the National Library of Wales’ collections to Wikidata, accompanied by high quality metadata that will link individual items to associated places, people, temporal periods and much more besides. This has the potential to reveal new and interesting links between materials, both within the National Library and far beyond, and this is what I find particularly exciting about having the opportunity to work with the National Library’s datasets and Wikidata.”
Our Wikidata Visiting Scholar volunteering at a Wikidata Edit-a-thon at the National Library.
Our Visiting Scholar’s first task is to use Metadata for 3000 images from the Welsh Landscape collection, which are available on Wikimedia Commons, to create detailed linked data. Simon will then work with the Library and volunteers in the Wikidata community to explore new ways of exploring and analysing the data and associated images.
An image from the Welsh Landscape Collection demonstrating the level of detailed linked data our volunteer is creating for each image.
Wikidata already contains over 17 million entries and is growing fast. At the same time software developers are creating increasingly innovative tools for exploring and analyzing this data. It is hoped that sharing National Library of Wales metadata openly for projects such as this, will enable and inspire the public use of our digital collections and data in many exciting and innovative ways.
This trial scheme is being supported by the Wikipedia Library, and it’s hoped that it can be used to attract other cultural institutions to run similar projects in the near future.
Wikipedian in Residence