Wikimedia blog

News from the Wikimedia Foundation and about the Wikimedia movement


US Cultural Partnerships Coordinator: Lori Byrd Phillips

Lori Phillips (CC-by-sa by Lori Phillips)

The Wikimedia Foundation is pleased to announce Lori Byrd Phillips as the United States Cultural Partnerships Coordinator in 2012. Through this new position within the Global Development department, the US Cultural Partnerships Coordinator will lead in building the infrastructure needed to support the growing interest in Wikimedia partnerships among cultural institutions in the United States, ultimately working to make cultural partnerships in the US self-sustaining starting 2013.

Thanks to the efforts of the global GLAM-Wiki initiative over the past two years, much inspired and aided by Liam Wyatt’s Wikimedia GLAM Fellowship, just now coming to its scheduled end, professionals from galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAMs) have begun to seriously discuss partnership with Wikimedia as a means to increase accessibility to cultural resources, and to draw new audiences to their collections. Significant press about partnerships at respected institutions such as the British Museum [NY Times], the National Archives and Records Administration [Yahoo!], and the Smithsonian Institution [Chronicle of Philanthropy] has led cultural professionals to consider Wikimedia partnerships a cutting-edge trend. This resulted in demand from museums and other institutions to establish relationships with Wikimedia through Wikipedians in Residence and other projects. In the US, however, this growing interest from cultural institutions is quickly outpacing the current capacity of the present volunteer community to support these needs.

Interest is continuing to explode in the US, with plans for grant projects and for Wikimedia-museum partnerships to be featured in a number of upcoming conferences, most significantly a dedicated panel discussion at the American Association of Museums annual conference and Museum Expo.

While there is much interest among US Wikimedians to assist with cultural partnerships, a systematic structure is needed to connect these volunteers with cultural institutions and to provide the resources needed to establish successful partnerships. In order to accomplish this, the priorities of the Coordinator’s one-year project include: (more…)

165,000 Photos Submitted During Second Annual Wiki Loves Monuments Photography Contest

Torre de Belém, Portugal. Photo: Joaomartinho63



Wiki Loves Monuments was a crazy idea: ask people to get out of their houses and take a picture of the cultural heritage around them, of monuments and buildings!
In September 2010, however, the idea proved far from crazy – 250 people participated in the Netherlands and submitted 12,500 photos. Last month, during the pan-European 2011 contest, we crushed that number.

In the past few months, volunteers throughout Europe have worked hard to organize this public photo contest in 18 countries throughout Europe – from Portugal to Estonia – and with great success. More than 5,000 people participated, submitting an amazing 165,000 photos– all available under a free license, and usable on Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia and other places on the internet. As a comparison, the current record for the largest photography competition according to the Guinness Book of World Records stands at 126,501 images.

This project has been a success in so many different ways already. Not only 5,000 people participated, but an estimated 4,000 of these are ‘new users’ to the Wikimedia projects and through this contest they made their very first contribution to Wikimedia as a registered user. Now it is up to the community to cherish and welcome these people and help them find their way on the projects, supporting them and encouraging them to further contributions.

In 14 cities, related ‘Wiki takes the City’ events have been organized, and two of those are most interesting. Thanks to Wiki takes Andorra (a very small country between Spain and France) and the work of Amical Viquipèdia, we have now over 1,000 images of Andorra’s cultural heritage – covering 100% of the listed buildings! And in Wiki takes Cologne the organizational skills of the German chapter and volunteers were once again proven; the event was highly successful with more than 70 participants.

A young participant of Wiki takes Cologne. Photo: Elke Wetzig


Wiki Loves Monuments is not finished yet – it’s a continuous project, but the contest that ran through the month of September is now over. The national juries will deliberate in the coming month over the best photos from their countries, and submit 10 winners to an international jury by the end of October. By the beginning of December, the winners of the European contest will be announced, and the 2011 edition will come to an end. But the volunteers who have been working so hard on this will keep working to check, categorize and use the images in Wikipedia, write the articles, improve the monument lists and do all the other work that still lies ahead.

I would like for all of us to take a minute and thank all the people who have worked so hard to make Wiki Loves Monuments 2011 a success. Our partners on both the national and European level – cultural heritage organizations, chapters, sponsors and others – have worked hard to enable us to pull this off. But even more importantly, all the volunteers who have worked so hard to connect with the partners, create the monument lists, write background materials, write manuals, prepare contest rules, find jury members, find sponsors, prepare press releases, answer press enquiries, help with technical challenges, set up the wizards and banners, help the uploaders where necessary, check the incoming files and make sure that everything keeps on going – they deserve a big cheer and hug.

I really  hope this has not worn you out, and that you consider helping to organize and support this crazy idea again next year.

Lodewijk Gelauff – international coordinator of Wiki Loves Monuments

QR Codes + Wikipedia

As an increasing number of people access the internet from their mobile phones Wikipedia needs to become increasingly mobile. Recently we wrote about the new mobile frontend but how do you get to a Wikipedia article in the first place, especially if you don’t know what you’re looking for or don’t speak the local language?

Introducing QRpedia.
QR codes – barcodes for the internet – have been around for decades and the technology is increasingly being used in everything from street advertising to museum object labels. QRpedia takes the concept one step further to allow a single QR code to send you seamlessly to the mobile-friendly version of any Wikipedia article in your own language. This system is unique to Wikipedia because no other website has manually created links between languages across such an incredible breadth of topics.

A QRpedia code for the Wikipedia article about the artist Joan Miró. 1 code, 40 languages. Try this one for yourself!

When you scan the code the language setting of your phone is also transmitted. QRpedia uses Wikipedia’s API to determine whether there is a version of the chosen Wikipedia article in the language your phone is using, and if so, displays the mobile-friendly version. If there is no article (yet!) in your preferred language it will show you the most relevant article instead.

Launched in April this year, the open source QRpedia was developed out of the partnership between the Derby Museum and Gallery, England and local Wikimedia contributors Roger Bamkin, chair of Wikimedia UK, and Terence Eden, a mobile web consultant. As “Wikipedian in Residence” at the Derby Museum, Roger capitalised on this system by hosting the hugely successful Multilingual Challenge (map of participants) to ensure that content of key importance to the museum was translated into as many languages as possible. Terence built the system and the museum was kind enough to install object labels incorporating the codes.

In an era when cultural funding is very constrained, the combination of QRpedia and the global Wikipedia community enabled the Derby museum to produce a multilingual visitor experience at virtually no cost. Easy mobile access to Wikipedia articles allows visitors to the museum to access unprecedented detail about the objects and their context – information that didn’t make it onto the exhibit label.

Jimmy Wales using an iPad to read the Wikipedia article "Broad Ripple Park Carousel" after scanning it on the nearby QRpedia sign

Jimmy Wales scanning the QRpedia code at the working antique carousel in the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

This system is now in use in other museums around the world. These include exhibitions at the on-site museum of the the National Archives of the UK, in the permanent signage of key objects at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and in a major traveling exhibition of Miró’s work in association with the Fundació Joan Miró of Barcelona.


To generate your own QRpedia codes visit
and simply paste the URL of any Wikipedia article into the box.
The freely licensed sourcecode can be viewed at


Liam Wyatt
Cultural Partnerships Fellow

Bringing Ansel Adams to Wikimedia Commons

In this guest post, Dominic McDevit-Parks, User:Dominic, reports on his work as the first Wikipedian in Residence at the National Archives and Records Administration. A Wikipedia contributor since 2004, Dominic is studying history and archives management at Simmons College.

Ansel Adams, 1941

In the 1940s, Ansel Adams, the famous American landscape photographer, was commissioned by the US Department of the Interior to photograph the country’s national parks. As a result, these photographs by a major 20th-century artist entered the public domain as federal works, and eventually became part of the records held by the National Archives and Records Administration. However, despite the fact that these photographs are part of the world’s shared cultural heritage, they had never truly been freely accessible to the public in all their glory. For decades, they were simply a physical collection of prints housed in the National Archives, until the late 1990s when the National Archives digitized the photos as part of its Electronic Access Project. They made their way into the National Archives’ catalog, were given an online finding aid, and were placed into their own Flickr album. In these three cases the images made public were scaled-down versions made for the web. They were, however, accompanied by advertisements encouraging interested users to purchase high-quality prints of the photos, and presumably this potential source of income served as a deterrent for releasing high-resolution digital scans. This tale should teach us an important lesson: that the public domain is not always public—even (sometimes especially) for works of incredible historical and artistic merit like these.

For Ansel Adams, there is a happy ending. The current incarnation of the National Archives, especially under the stewardship of David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, has signalled a deep commitment to openness and free digital access to its holdings. It is also incredibly friendly to the cause of Wikimedia. One of the first things we worked on when I joined the National Archives as their Wikipedian in Residence was freeing the Ansel Adams collection, and this is something that they were very eager to accomplish. You can see all 220 photos now, in high resolution, on Wikimedia Commons, and the original TIFF files from the scans are going to be available soon. This is not a special case, though; the National Archives has put no restrictions on what we can obtain from their already-digitized files, and they would even like to work with any scanning volunteers to help digitize more.

I would also like to emphasize to the Wikimedia community that this is a two-way street. The National Archives can cooperate with Wikimedia because we share common goals like open access and public education, but they are reaching out specifically to us because we are in a unique position to add value to their holdings. We need to demonstrate our seriousness by following through as a community. This means incorporating new, high-quality images from the National Archives into Wikipedia articles so they don’t just languish unused and undiscovered, fully categorizing them on Commons, digitally restoring historical images, working to transcribe them on Wikisource, and even creating new content on Wikipedia to accompany and enrich National Archives documents. We can start this effort with Ansel Adams—and I encourage you to get involved with that project—but this is also hopefully only the beginning of a very fruitful collaboration.

You can get involved in the various projects at WP:NARAWS:NARA, and COM:NARA.

Dominic McDevit-Parks
Wikipedian in Residence, National Archives and Records Administration

Wikimedia and libraries – a symbiotic relationship

When people research a topic for school, work or personal interest, they often turn to Wikipedia as their starting point. Many of those visitors then continue their research by following one of the millions of footnotes to the original resources held in libraries around the world that are used to verify Wikipedia’s content. This is a symbiotic relationship – Wikipedia becomes more reliable and libraries’ treasures are made more accessible.

Many librarians are also eager to hear how they can work with Wikipedia more – which is why the Wikimedia Foundation is speaking at two events this weekend. Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director Sue Gardner will be delivering the president’s program address at the American Library Association conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. On the same day, Cultural Partnerships Fellow Liam Wyatt will be a keynote speaker at the EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) General Assembly in Minsk, Belarus. EIFL is a group dedicated to supporting libraries in developing countries.


"The Librarian", 1566, by Arcimboldo, Skokloster Castle, Sweden

“Libraries are, ultimately, about helping people find the information they need,” says Rachel Slough, the teaching and learning librarian at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. “Wikipedia often has that information. Both libraries and Wikipedia support learning and the efficient dissemination of accurate information. In academic libraries, there is an emphasis on the teaching roles of libraries; Wikipedia supports and enhances that mission.”

Rachel is one of a handful of university library staff serving as Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors. Campus Ambassadors are trained on teaching newcomers how to contribute content to Wikipedia, either as students whose professor assigns them to edit an article for class or as people on campus who want to share what they know with the world.

Librarians are a natural fit for this role. They have been urging students for years to start with a reference like Wikipedia that can provide a general overview of a research topic and a list of sources at the bottom – and then use that source list to dig deeper into the topic.

“You need to start where the students are at and bring them along to appropriate scholarly resources,” says Tony Garrett, a Campus Ambassador who is the head of reference and access services at Troy University.

Rachel agrees. She works in a freshman residence hall teaching students about the library, and she says she’ll often use Wikipedia as a hook to grab students’ attention. Wikipedia, she says, is a part of students’ reality, so it’s something familiar.

“Part of effective service in any profession is being accountable and authentic with those we serve,” Rachel says. “Wikipedia forces me to challenge my assumptions, to meet my users where they are, and to embrace the changing information landscape.”

Many libraries are also reaching out to Wikimedia projects in the form of partnerships with Wikimedia Chapters. The GLAM-WIKI program (GLAM is an acronym for Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) connects institutions like libraries with people in the Wikimedia movement to build on the symbiotic relationship between the two communities. To name just a few library-related programs:

  • Wikimedia France has partnered with the Bibliotheque National de France on a project in which the French national library provides high-quality scans of old documents, which are placed on Wikimedia Commons and transcribed on Wikisource.
  • The British Library has hosted several “edit-a-thon” workshops with Wikimedia UK. Specialist librarians from the British Library, who have access to the original materials in the collection, work alongside Wikimedians in private reading rooms.
  • The National Library of Australia‘s digitized newspaper search engine allows users to easily obtain code to create a footnote in Wikipedia simply by clicking “cite” in any article in any edition of any newspaper.

The Wikimedia Foundation will also have a booth at the exhibit hall at the American Library Association conference. If you’re at either the EIFL or the ALA this weekend, come talk with us about how libraries can have a proactive and mutually-beneficial relationship with Wikimedia projects.

LiAnna Davis, Communications Associate, Public Policy Initiative
Liam Wyatt, Cultural Partnerships Fellow


GLAMCamp NYC leads to work on software, outreach, and more

Glam Camp NYC header dark

While GLAMCamp NYC finished on Sunday (Signpost coverage), the work initiated there will continue throughout the GLAM community.  Representatives from cultural institutions and Wikimedia chapters, as well as individuals, are working on several projects.  The projects concerning web badges for free culture allies, a metadata standard for use in the mass uploader/data ingestion tool, and the web analytics proposal are in particular seeking contributors and project managers; please comment at the coordination page to signal your interest.

Also available: the collaborative notes from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and specifically for discussion of the Ambassadors program, the Point Of Entry project, the data ingestion tool, and the metrics/analytics proposal.

Thanks to the organizers and participants for a productive and illuminating weekend.

-Sumana Harihareswara
Volunteer Development Coordinator, Wikimedia Foundation

GLAMCampNYC: help us make mass uploads easier

Today, several Wikimedians and representatives from galleries, libraries, archives and museums (GLAM institutions) met in New York City to kick off GLAMCampNYC.  New York City’s public Science, Industry, and Business Library is hosting the event.

Liam Wyatt, the Wikimedia Foundation’s Cultural Partnerships Fellow (aka GLAM fellow), introduced two keynoters: Meg Bellinger, discussing open access at Yale, and Maarten Zeinstra, presenting the Europeana public domain calculator.  The conference continues through Sunday.  Participants are discussing and building the GLAM outreach wiki, writing documentation, sharing best practices, and building tools.

Developers at GLAMCamp are developing a data-munging tool, based on pywikipediabot, to aid in mass uploads (more details).  According to Wyatt, the most common requests from GLAM institutions are (1) mass upload of audiovisual media and (2) metrics, “easily exportable statistics based on analytics on a GLAM’s relationship with Wikimedia.”  The data-munging or data ingestion tool will aid in the import of metadata from large sets of files, thus speeding the difficult part of mass uploads.  Attendees will be hacking on it in sprints this weekend, starting 3pm-4:30pm UTC time tomorrow, Saturday the 21st. Join them in person (11am local time), or in #glamwiki on Freenode.

See notes from today’s general talks and discussion and from the discussion of the GLAM Ambassadors program, or follow #glamwiki and #glamcamp on Twitter and

-Sumana Harihareswara
Volunteer Development Coordinator, Wikimedia Foundation

“In Residence” around the world

The “Wikipedian in Residence” project has gone from strength to strength. Beginning last year at the British Museum (prior blogpost) there are now residency projects in cultural institutions in several countries and in very diverse cultural institutions.

Children’s Museum, Indianapolis
The longest-serving Wikipedian in Residence, Lori Phillips (HstryQT) has been working at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis since September and has recently published an extensive update. This museum has a broad collection, with exhibitions focused on family learning, so for them collaborating with the non-commercial, educational online encyclopedia is a logical way to reach their audience.

A group of students at a laptop at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis wearing "Youth at work" t-shirts

Museum Apprentice Program students researching their Wikipedia articles

Some of Lori’s projects have included:

  • Working with Wikipedians to increase the quality of articles for some of the museum’s objects, including the Broad Ripple Park Carousel, which was recently honoured with “featured article” status;
  • Uploading images of their objects to Wikimedia Commons, their first foray into Creative Commons licensing;
  • Embedding Wikipedia articles into their own website, such as with the historic locomotive Reuben Wells;
  • Running “backstage pass tours” for local Wikipedians;
  • Using Wikipedia to teach research and writing skills to 13-18 year old students in the “Museum Apprentice Program”, resulting in five new articles for the museum’s most iconic artifacts.

One Wikipedian who grew up in the area and visited as a child was so impressed with the museum’s collaboration with Wikipedia that he made a financial contribution to the museum:

It’s great to hear that the Children’s Museum has a Wikipedian in residence. I remember all sorts of class and family field trips to the museum… You’ve just inspired me to make a financial contribution to the museum, and if the museum higher-ups ever doubt the usefulness of a Wikipedian in residence, know this: Without that article and the memories it brought back, helping out wouldn’t have crossed my mind.
- JKBrooks85

Château de Versailles
Meanwhile at the court of French kings, Benoît Evellin (Trizek) is now a couple of months into his residency project (prior blogpost). The Château de Versailles is a completely different kind of museum, focused on a specific place and all the people, politics, history and culture that has swirled around it. The Château is excited to be working with Wikipedia as it is an effective way to contextualise this diverse range of subjects – from Marie Antoinette’s farm to any one of the ten Versailles treaties – and to bring its heritage and its specialists’ publications to a wider audience.

Two Wikimedians, with the aid of a pole, taking a photo of a painting installed several meters off the ground at the Palace of Versailles

Photographing hard to reach paintings in the "cabinet des Dépêches" at Versailles

The two main components of Benoît’s work are providing training to the hundreds of museum staff on the theory and practice of Wikipedia and making connections between these experts and interested Wikipedians all over the world. His other specific projects include:

  • Arranging special tours for photographers, to take free-licensed photographs to illustrate Wikipedia articles. Others – such as Salle du Sacre – were created directly as a result of the photographs becoming available.
  • Sharing digitised copies of the Château’s collection of original books with Wikisource, and original and maps of the castle with Wikimedia Commons.

Future activities will include an international article writing contest, a “featured article in 24 hours” challenge and translation drives.

Derby Museum
Across the Channel in England, the newly elected chair of Wikimedia UK Roger Bamkin (Victuallers) has been working with Derby Museums. Compared to the other institutions the Derby museums are small, with a special focus on the 18th Century painter Joseph Wright of Derby and the first factory. However, this is an experiment to see what effect we can have on a smaller institution.

Recently the Derby museum hosted its own “backstage pass tour” at which two innovative projects were unveiled. The first, the Wright Challenge, is a multilingual project aimed at creating articles related to the museum and its subject in as many Wikipedia language editions as possible. The second is the use of Wikipedia QR Codes for the museum exhibits. QR codes have been used in museums before but these QRpedia codes – a tool created as a direct result of the Derby collaboration – are a cost effective way for the museum to cater to international visitors as they are able to detect the preferred language of the visitor and direct them to the appropriate Wikipedia edition.

Coming soon…
Very soon three new cultural institutions will join the list of those with an in-house Wikipedian. The US National Archives (NARA) have announced Dominic McDevitt-Parks (Dominic) who will be working to link their unique collections of documents with the myriad Wikipedia articles about American history. Meanwhile, Sarah Stierch (Missvain) will be undertaking similar projects at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art. Finally, the Berlin State Museums (Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) has advertised a similar position, jointly funded by Wikimedia Germany, to work across several diverse institutions at once.
GLAM logo
From small to large, old to new, archives to museums, every cultural institution can have a proactive relationship with Wikipedia because, after all, we’re working in the same field for the same reason, and for the same people. If you would like to follow updates on the residents and other culture-sector activities you can subscribe to the “This month in GLAM” newsletter on wiki or by RSS or visit

Liam Wyatt
Cultural Partnerships Fellow

Wikipedia Enters the Sun King’s Court

Wikimédia France recently announced a new partnership with the Palace of Versailles.

This partnership will be the third “Wikimedian residency” and the second time that a Wikimedian will work closely with a cultural institution of world-wide renown. French Wikipedian Benoît Evellin follows in the footsteps of Liam Wyatt who was the first Wikipedian in residence at the British Museum.  Benoît will spend six months at the Palace of Versailles to help produce and include cultural and scientific data on the Wikimedia projects.

The partnership originated at the GLAM-Wiki Paris event in early December 2010 where Adrienne Alix, president of Wikimédia France, met Laurent Gaveau, Deputy Director of Information and Communication of Versailles and started talking about possible ways to bring Versailles cultural riches to the Wikimedia Projects.

Benoît’s residency will focus on:

  • Facilitating the exchange of best practice between the Wikimedia contributors and the teams of the Palace of Versailles, including researchers and scientists;
  • Developing effective communication and distribution channels to broaden access to cultural and scientific content of the Palace of Versailles through Wikipédia in French, but also in all other languages, as well as through Wikimedia Commons with images and multimedia content;

Laurent Gaveau explains that, “Wikipedia is the second source of information in France on the Palace of Versailles, after the official website, it might even be the first abroad.”

This partnership follows other partnerships secured by Wikimédia France with similar institutions, including partnerships with the City of Toulouse, and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, which have brought a wealth of high-quality material to Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource, but also a growing number of initiatives around the world with institutions working to make their information available to the general public through the Wikimedia Projects.

As Adrienne Alix puts it:

“This partnership with the Palace of Versailles confirms that something has changed between cultural institutions worldwide and Wikimedia: The World of Culture is starting to understand that criticizing by saying “Wikipedia is not complete” is not as constructive as working with Wikipedia to make it better. This is the result of tireless work from Wikimedians, and I am happy to see that the Wikimedia Projects are now seen by professionals as an essential conduit to the dissemination of culture.”

Delphine Ménard
Member, Wikimédia France

Announcing our GLAM fellow, Liam Wyatt

Wikimedia fellow, Liam Wyatt

Following in quick succession from the recent announcements of fellowships for both Achal Prabhala and Lennart Guldbransson I am pleased to announce our sixth fellow, Liam Wyatt, based in Sydney. During this one year project Liam will be working to build the capacity of the Wikimedia community to undertake partnerships with cultural institutions – known as GLAMs [Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums] a term he popularized.

Liam has been a board member of the Australian Wikimedia chapter and was a longtime panelist on the Wikipedia Weekly podcast. He is a Wikipedia historian, having won the university medal for his 2008 thesis ‘the academic lineage of Wikipedia.’ The focus of his Wikipedia work for the last two years has been the GLAM sector – he was the convener of the GLAM-WIKI conferences in Canberra and London and last July became the world’s first “Wikipedian in Residence” at the British Museum (previous blog entry).

Several different types of collaboration with the cultural sector have been successfully run with institutions across the world over the last few years – including multimedia content donations, “backstage pass” tours, residencies, and editing and photography events. These collaborations increase the quality and reliability of Wikipedia and also meet the goals of the GLAM institutions: to share their expertise with a wide audience – especially for those that do not have a web presences of their own.

The priorities for Liam’s fellowship include building communication channels so the existing community of Wikimedians working with GLAMs can better share their knowledge; applying learnings from the university “campus ambassador” system to create a global network of Wikimedia GLAM ambassadors; creating clear how-to documentation for common GLAM project with real-world case studies to match; and improving the metrics tools available to measure the usage of GLAM content.

If you would like to join in any aspect of the cultural partnerships initiative please visit the project pages at If you represent a cultural institution and want to engage in a project please write to

Daniel Phelps, Human Resources