Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Leveraging Wikipedia as a Digital Library

There was a time not too long ago when librarians would snarl and hiss at the mention of Wikipedia. Thankfully, that time has passed. Wikipedia has gained credibility over the years and is now credited as a realistic and reliable place to begin your research and a democratic tool to spread information. Librarians are even relying on DBpedia as a resource in building their own linked open data. 

What you may not know is that many digital libraries are also using Wikipedia to draw more eyes to their digital library collections. It's no surprise that the vast majority of researchers start their search in Wikipedia, and librarians are levying that to draw more users into their own digital content. 

Back in 2011, Insider Higher Ed had an article "Wielding Wikipedia" that discussed how Wikipedia quickly became the #1 driver of traffic to their website once they hired a student to add relevant links to their content throughout Wikipedia. Many other librarians are also hiring "Wikipedians-in-residence" to generate meaningful links to their digital libraries. For instance, the University of Houston added a photo to Hakeem Olajuwon's WIkipedia page of the day the basketball star signed with the Houston Rockets in 1984. According to the site, that page was viewed 50,000 times within 30 days. 

MWDL is just starting to leverage the power of Wikipedia by working with an outside party to create our own MWDL page (Wikipedia is suspect of organizations that create their own pages for ethical reasons). We then linked to Wiki pages that already mentioned MWDL such as the Marriott Library, Louis L. Madsen, and Adoration of the Magi of 1475. In these cases, we didn't even add our content to the pages, we simply linked the existing text for Mountain West Digital Library back to our new Wikipedia page

Is your library using Wikipedia? How? Has it driven more traffic to your site? 

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