The first “One Librarian, One Reference” (#1Lib1Ref) campaign was launched in January 2016 to celebrate the 15th birthday of Wikipedia. The organizers asked librarians to “Imagine a World where Every Librarian Added One More Reference to Wikipedia.” Librarians were invited to become contributors to Wikipedia through a small first edit that was perfectly aligned with their purpose, knowledge, and skills.
Since then, #1Lib1Ref has grown from a primarily English-language initiative to a twice-annual campaign with support for more than 50 languages. Organizers around the world have made it their own, localizing the identity and timing (e.g. #1Bib1Ref in Latin America), experimenting with themes (e.g. human rights and gender), and developing the campaign into a more robust professional development opportunity (e.g. African Librarians Week). Recent campaigns have started to experiment with new tasks.
Organizers have also faced local challenges and resistance. Some report that the campaign is perceived to have regressive gender dynamics, inviting a feminized profession (librarians) to clean up after predominantly male Wikipedia editors. Others talk about the difficulty of overcoming internalized censorship in post-communist society. While the campaign is growing in some regions, the numbers are down elsewhere.
Finally, advocacy itself is a tactic. The African Librarians Week campaign called on librarians to represent their country by posting to social media. Having so many librarians sharing their dual identity as ‘Wikibrarians’ helps to build the reputation of our projects and bring in more readers and contributors.
Most of the challenges related to how we articulate the benefit of the campaign to librarians. How does 1Lib1ref develop librarians’ digital literacy and career opportunities, raise awareness of their collections, improve their service for researchers and local users, or support their institution? And how do you bring contributors back, year after year?
Participants also noted the need for better campaign tools and they want to measure the quality of contribution, not just the quantity of contribution.
There was a lot of discussion about who makes the invitation, with proposals to bolster the campaign through outreach to decision makers for the library sector, for example, government, professional bodies, and leadership at the biggest institutions. Participants also thought it was important to encourage librarians to use their own collection resources and tools, to make the campaign more accessible and impactful for them.