Posted by Lori Ayre on July 7, 2016

A few years ago, I participated in the PLA Technology Commitee. They were contemplating the future of the PLA Tech Notes. I suggested that we should discontinue the PLA Tech Notes and instead update the Wikipedia entries on those topics that were of interest to libraries. That way we'd contribute valuable content to Wikipedia on technology if there wasn't anything useful there yet.  And if there was something there already, we could supplement the entry and describe the library application of that technology.  Seemed to me to be a great idea and much better than spending a bunch of money having someone right up an article that would then be hidden deep in the bowels of ALA/PLA website where the info would be hard to find, never updated, and where it would quickly become inaccurate (without anyone who happened to bump into it knowing the difference).

Unfortunately, my powers of persuasion were evidently not as well honed back then and no one took me up on the idea.  But someone at OCLC has take up the banner and I'm happy about that.  OCLC applied for a Knight grant to do what I suggested way back when and they got the grant.  So, OCLC via Web Junction, will establish a Wikipedian-in-Residence who will deliver a national-scale training program to build library staff skills for creating and editing Wikipedia articles and to implement a Wikipedia outreach program in their local communities.

As the press release states:  The project will reinforce libraries as stewards of quality information, standard bearers for information literacy and curators of authoritative collections. While anyone can contribute to Wikipedia and its growing base of knowledge, knowing how to edit Wikipedia remains a mystery to most people, even information professionals. This project will equip library staff to become Wikipedia editors and to engage community members to join them and other local Wikipedians in collecting and extending access to knowledge.

I still think the PLA or ALA technology committees should be doing this sort of thing too, but I'm glad this project got funded. It's about time we put our training and commitment to accurate, high-quality information to use and made it accessible where people are looking instead of expecting them to come to us.  I guess I should get off my butt and do some updates to that RFID entry on Wikipedia.  It's terrible.  I could help.

Here's more on the OCLC/Knight grant in case you want to apply to be trained.