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:

  • Organizing US community volunteers and establishing a system for connecting local Wikipedians with interested cultural institutions.
  • Completing documentation and building capacity to scale volunteer efforts with a self-service model for institutions.
  • Establishing resources that facilitate cultural professionals and academics contributing their expertise to Wikimedia projects.
  • Identifying missing tools and liaising with technical volunteers to promote their creation and improvement.
  • Developing a model for partnerships with cultural institutions that
    becomes self-sustaining by 2013.

Lori Byrd Phillips has served as Wikipedian in Residence at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis since August 2010. She was the second to take on the title following Liam Wyatt’s residency at the British Museum and is serving the longest-running residency to date. She has been involved in the GLAM initiative for nearly two years, carrying out a number of pilot projects that have served as best practice for museum-Wikimedia partnerships. Lori is also a graduate student in the museum studies program at Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis and has presented, written articles, and blogged for a number of professional museum organizations about her work with museums and Wikipedia. For more information, visit Lori’s personal site.

I will be Lori’s contact person at the Foundation.  Monthly reports about her work will be included in the Foundation’s general monthly report, and much would no doubt be relevant to the This Month in GLAM newsletter as well.  I look forward to a GLAMorous year for GLAM in the US (and elsewhere).

If you would like to join in any aspect of the cultural partnerships initiative please visit the project pages at http://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/GLAM. If you represent a cultural institution and would like to engage in a project please write to glam@wikimedia.org.

Asaf Bartov, Head of Global South Relationships, asaf@wikimedia.org, User:Ijon

GLAM logo (CC-by-sa by Husky, h3m3ls, Mischa de Muynck, Niels, and PKM)


  • Why is this position being funded through the Global Development department?
    • The Foundation is the only entity operating throughout the US at the moment.  As more and more Wikimedia chapters support GLAM partnerships in their respective countries, the Global Development department undertook to fund the US Cultural Partnerships Coordinator as a new position within the department. The Coordinator will be working closely with the New York and DC chapters to streamline volunteer efforts and resources related to GLAM.
  • How is this position related to the global GLAM-Wiki initiative?
    • This position is highly connected with the global GLAM-Wiki initiative, but also has goals specific to the US.  While the Coordinator will be working alongside the wider GLAM-Wiki community to improve general resources and documentation, the primary goal of this position is to coordinate volunteers to assist US GLAMs locally and virtually. In other countries, this coordination is often carried out by the local chapter. In the US there is overwhelming interest from GLAMs, but no streamlined way for GLAMs to connect with a Wikimedian.
  • What are some measures of success for this position?
    • An established list of local Wikipedian contacts for national & regional organizations (e.g. California Association of Museums).
    • An organized task force of online volunteers interested in assisting virtually with GLAMs.
    • An organized task force of outreach volunteers interested in providing localized, on-site support for GLAM partnerships.
    • A short list of Wikimedians with the relevant level of experience who are willing to take on the role of Wikipedians in Residence.
    • Maintenance of the core GLAM-Wiki Web pages on Outreach, Commons, and English Wikipedia, which will allow museums to independently find information and get started on their own.
    • Case studies and relevant documentation listed among the model projects that have been established on http://outreach.wikimedia.org/GLAM.
    • The existence of a self-sustaining community of GLAM-Wiki practitioners in the US, starting 2013.
  • How does this position fit in with the broader goals of the Wikimedia Foundation?
    • GLAMs can be one answer to each of the goals of the Wikimedia Foundation’s strategic goals:

      • GLAMs have the experts. Cultural institutions house the resources and specialists that can enhance the quality of Wikipedia with their deep subject-matter expertise.

      • GLAMs have the tools. The museum and library technology community is continually developing tools for pan-institutional sharing of resources and data. It is mutually beneficial to connect with these ongoing projects.

      • GLAMs have the women. The cultural sector is made up of a significant number of women who, when given practical methods for becoming editors, will be an important factor in closing the gender gap.

  • You mention interest in cultural partnerships is exploding in the US now.  {{cite}}?
    • The nature of partnership talks is that potential partners are usually wary of being mentioned before something definite has been negotiated, so it’s difficult to disclose a full list of institutions that have expressed initial interest.  The one reference for level of interest we can point to is the list of current partnerships, here: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Partnerships
  • Are any other Cultural Partnership Coordinator positions planned?
    • The US Cultural Partnership Coordinator position was created in response to a need formulated by US cultural partnership volunteers.  It is primarily a capacity-building position, designed to make itself redundant at the end of one year.  While no other such positions are currently planned, the Foundation will continue to consider community requests such as this one.