Emory Libraries now has a Wikipedian in Residence

Caroline Scheving – LITS’ Wikipedian in Residence.

Emory Libraries has selected Caroline Scheving (pronounced SKAY-ving) as Emory’s first ever Wikipedian in Residence. Caroline, an art history major with an English minor, doesn’t actually reside in the library (although she might argue that she does because of her coursework). As Wikipedian in Residence, her job is to improve and enhance Wikipedia by using Emory Libraries’ unique resources.

According to Alexa Internet, Wikipedia is the world’s fifth-ranked global web site (behind only Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Baidu). Despite academicians’ concerns about Wikipedia’s open-source database, a fast-growing trend of taking a scholarly approach to maintaining this data is sweeping higher education.

The Wikipedian in Residence position is funded by an Emory Libraries innovation grant that was submitted by Jenn Sutcliffe. It is the third prong of a three-part proposal that included the “Art and Feminism Edit-a-Thon” held last spring, and the “Wikipedia in Higher Education Symposium and Workshop” held this fall.

Jenn first learned about this concept at the Wikimania conference held in Montreal last fall. There she learned how libraries are partnering with Wikipedia to improve content, as well as serve an educational role.

Typically, Wikipedians in Residence are full-time professionals. In this pilot offering, Emory Libraries wanted to see if a student could do it. To perform proper Wikipedia page creation and editing, a person must have excellent writing and researching skills. Additionally, Jenn was looking for a person with an interest in digital scholarship.

Caroline was a perfect match. In addition to her English minor, she’s had classes using WordPress, worked with ECDS on archival research, and co-hosted a workshop in the Rose Library. In her interview, she framed Wikipedia as “the world’s biggest digital scholarship project.”

“We’ve been very impressed by her output,” said Jenn. “Having a student is great because it gives her experience and an opportunity to do some teaching and workshops.”

Caroline has worked with the Carlos Museum and Rose Library Collections to create new articles for each and contribute to existing articles. Courtney Chartier, one of the Rose Library department heads, sent Caroline a list of individuals whose papers are in their collection. Caroline chose Beverly Long, a civil rights and mental health activist. Armed with Beverly Long’s papers, Caroline created a new page for Beverly and also reviewed pages that had already been created.

Red Figure Pelike with an Actor Dressed as a Bird.

At Carlos, Caroline focused on a specific object (“Red Figure Pelike with an Actor Dressed as a Bird,” a ceramic vessel from the Attic region of Greece that is dated to between 430-420 BC), because libraries have found that Wikipedia articles get searched more than the actual sites of the museums that own the objects. This article is being reviewed by Carlos curatorial staff before publishing it. Projects for Pitts, Oxford and WHSCL are coming up the rest of the semester.

The Wikipedian in Residence position is funded for fall only, however Jenn would love to see funding continued into the spring.

“It has been an interesting experience,” said Caroline, “especially working with the Rose Library and learning more about civil rights.

For more information, contact Jenn Sutcliffe at jennifer [dot] sutcliffe [at] emory [dot] edu.

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