After three and a half months at the Metropolitan New York Library Council, I’m still figuring out what it means to be a consortium based Wikipedian-in-Residence (WiR). METRO is a member-resource organization for a large and diverse body of institutions, each with their own interests in Wikipedia. METRO’s members include 150 libraries and archives in the museum, cultural, public and medical sectors in New York City. Members range from the American Museum of Natural History Library, to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, to the Cornell Weil Medical College Library.
There have been only a few consortium WiRs so far, and most of them have been in the UK – perhaps because of its highly governmentally integrated and funded wiki programs. In the US, there has been Dominic McDevitt Parks at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.. The Smithsonian institutions use a shared administrative system, and share outreach and technology resources on the national mall. At the Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums consortium in Northeast England, Robert Forsythe presided over 12 Museums and Galleries.
Wikimedia UK recently announced that it is hiring a 5-member consortium WiR position at York Museums Trust, a 4-member consortium at York Castle Museum, York St. Mary’s, Yorkshire Museum and York Art Gallery. Consortium WiRs are not unheard of, but are a more recent development than the single-institution model, which itself is only about three years old.
Since the function of consortiums is almost always to provide resources and technologies to help further their member’s institutional missions, Wikipedia makes for an ideal partner.
That said, consortium WiRs have a different set of tasks and responsibilities than the more familiar WiR model. In the traditional WiR role, the WiR generally presides over the editing activities of a particular institution and creates and edits content about the institution’s history, collections and related topics.
With stronger definitions for particular WiR positions, I think the GLAM community will be able to better connect WiRs that are working on similar projects so they can share ideas, training resources, handouts, help pages and so they can improve collaboration.