There was an Indian librarian who once wrote five laws on what libraries should be. The fifth and last law read: “A library is a growing organism.” Wikisource is a wiki digital library that doesn’t grow by itself. Volunteers like you, like us, make it grow everyday, digitizing books from the public domain, proofreading OCR text and recently also transcribing sheet music.
Almost 10 years have passed since Wikisource started, on November 24, 2003. It began as a support project for Wikipedia. While we cannot tell you what dreams are made of, we know that the Wikipedia dream is nurtured by many of the sources, books and first-hand knowledge that populate Wikisource.
Wikisource users Andrea (Aubrey) and David (Micru) were recently named recipients of a Wikimedia Foundation Individual Engangement Grant, and we intend to periodically keep you updated about the progress of our work. We are sharing the progress we have made during the month of April and we invite you to participate defining the Wikisource vision for the future with us.
During the first month of work for the grant, we have been focusing on writing the first draft of the Wikisource values and ways of applying them. The suggestions are based on a Wikimania meeting last year, on our experience with the wiki, and on volunteer wishes. If you expect more of Wikisource, help us expand our list and comment on the suggestions.
That is not only a “wishlist,” but a list of specific proposals that can be transformed into action. As part of this commitment, we are giving support and formally endorsing the GSoC proposal: Book upload customisation (candidate 1, candidate 2). The reason for this endorsement is the high importance that such a project could have for the Wikisource community, enabling users to import external book metadata and spread it to the relevant pages to avoid redundant work.
There are three other candidates that are additionally applying for the Outreach Program for Women with proposals that, if accepted, will also be of paramount importance:
- Refactor proofread extension: to integrate the Visual Editor into Wikisource.
- Improve support for book structures: a long expected and needed feature.
- Prototype inline citations: combining the wonderful OKFN Annotator with Mediawiki.
We expect that once we have reached an agreement on what the other important tasks for Wikisource’s future are, we can keep offering more volunteer projects.
Another task we are tackling is the relationship with external organizations. It is useless to have an amazing digital library if it is not well connected with other libraries, websites, users and the world. It will take time to develop partnerships with other related organizations, like the Open Library, or free knowledge organizations, such as the Open Knowledge Foundation. We have started developing these connections and exploring possible ways of collaboration.
And finally there is Wikidata, a new member of the Wikimedia family that will also be a key for resolving one of Wikisource’s long standing issues: book metadata management. As a first stage of this ongoing work, we have started the Wikidata books task force to define the necessary properties for having reusable data about books in Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia and Wikisource.
If you have any suggestions, requests or feedback, please reach out either via email or our talk pages. All Wikimedia users are invited to join and build a better Wikisource together. It’s your call too.
Andrea Zanni and David Cuenca, Wikisource
- Google Summer of Code 2013: http://www.google-melange.com/gsoc/homepage/google/gsoc2013