The Sydney Wikipedian-in-Residence story (Part I): where, why, what
If you are in Sydney and you walk from Hyde Park down the right side of Macquarie Street, you will pass the Barracks, (a UNESCO World Heritage site and convict museum); the former Mint, now containing the Historic Houses Trust (with its associated specialist library); Parliament House (with its Parliamentary Archives); the Sydney Hospital (with its museum that celebrates the work of nurses sent here by Florence Nightingale); the Royal Botanic Gardens (with its herbarium containing a reference library of 1.2 million preserved plants); and the Conservatorium of Music with its music library. If you keep walking, you will reach the Sydney Opera House, but before you do, you will pass the State Library of NSW (SLNSW). A few steps from my desk is an entrance which leads from the library across the park to the Art Gallery of NSW. This is my favourite street and I have walked along it every week for decades. As you can see, the street is very GLAM. This is where my Residency is.
The SLNSW is in the middle of both a massive cataloguing effort to create more than a million electronic catalogue records and a “Digital Excellence” project to digitise 12 million pages. It also has an obligation to create Wikipedia entries for newspapers published in NSW as they are digitised and become searchable via Trove - an online search service at the National Library of Australia which uses crowd-sourced correction of the scanned newspaper text. SLNSW is exploring innovative ways, via a number of projects, to improve online digital engagement with library customers. Their partnership with Wikimedia Australia is part of that. This is the context and the why of my Residency.
The Innovation Manager at SLNSW is leading a team of professional librarians who have volunteered to learn how to edit Wikipedia and part of my role is to work with them. They are becoming capable editors and by the end of this project, we hope that they will be a cohort of competent, confident and enthusiastic Wikimedians who will continue to incorporate information from the library’s amazing collection into the encyclopaedia. Another goal is that the project itself will provide a model for the engagement of libraries from other Australian states with Wikimedia. As well as new articles (such as Douglas Grant) on Indigeneous topics, we are currently working on list articles such as List of non-English-language newspapers in NSW. Articles about some of the unique and significant objects in the library collection are also under construction. This is the what of my Residency.
The project page is here: GLAM/SLNSW. As with the Library’s cataloguing and digital engagement, this story is unfinished. Hence it is:
... to be continued