Bodleian Libraries joins with Wikimedia UK to share historic collections

26 March 2015

The Bodleian Libraries and Wikimedia UK have joined forces to support a year-long Wikimedian in Residence in Oxford.

The post provides the opportunity to work with some of the world's richest library collections to improve content on Wikipedia and its sister projects, and to share with the world the resources held in the Bodleian Libraries.

Image of Martin PoulterThe Libraries have appointed Dr Martin Poulter, currently ICT Manager for the University of Bristol's Economics Network. Poulter is an experienced Wikipedia editor and had previously been the Wikimedian Ambassador for Jisc, the charity that promotes the use of technology in UK education and research.

As Wikimedian in Residence, Poulter will engage with staff, the public and researchers to encourage contributions to the development of content on Wikipedia and to make the Libraries' digitized collections more accessible. He will place a particular focus on areas currently under-represented on Wikipedia, especially women in science, and will encourage contributors to use the Bodleian's collections to spread awareness of female scientists, past and present, from the University of Oxford and beyond. This autumn, for example, Poulter will engage the public with the Libraries' celebrations of the 200th anniversary of computer visionary Ada Lovelace. He will also consider ways of improving Wikipedia coverage of the Bodleian's non-Western collections, encouraging contributors to engage with the one of the most important collections of Islamic manuscripts in Europe.

Poulter will also undertake academic and public outreach work to encourage understanding and development of Wikimedia projects and improve access to the Libraries' collections, including events such as editathons and workshops. His outreach work will include training female editors in an effort to increase the number of women who share their expertise through Wikipedia.

Wikimedia UK is the national charity supporting Wikipedia and its sister projects such as Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons. It works with professionals in universities, museums, libraries and other institutions to improve the knowledge that those projects make freely available. It is investing in this initiative to involve more of these experts in improving Wikimedia projects for everyone's benefit.

Richard Ovenden, Bodley's Librarian, said: 'I'm delighted that we are working with Wikimedia UK on this project. The library, academic and Wikimedia communities are committed to the pursuit and sharing of knowledge and providing the public with greater access to the Libraries' rich collections. It is especially important to address issues of under-representation in Wikipedia, in areas such as women in science, and we are proud to help deal with this issue. Bringing these communities together provides a fantastic way to tap into expertise and content that often sits separately.'

D'Arcy Myers, Interim Chief Executive of Wikimedia UK, said: 'I am very happy that Wikimedia UK is working with such an important and influential institution as the Bodleian Libraries. The Bodleian has an excellent worldwide reputation and that they are embracing open knowledge in this way is very impressive. I am excited about the results that this project will deliver.'

The project is funded by Wikimedia UK and will run for 12 months. Poulter begins his role as Wikimedian in Residence at the Bodleian on 1 April 2015.

Image credit: Mike Peel

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