Unlike many Wikimedia chapters in Europe, Wikimedia UK is not primarily responsible for supporting our own language Wikipedia, which allows us more time to work on things like developing GLAM partnerships. The UK has a very well-developed heritage sector with numerous world-famous institutions containing items of immense historical and artistic significance, so one of our main tasks as a chapter is to encourage those institutions to work with Wikimedia and make more of their content available on open licenses.
We have started to develop partnerships with many of these institutions; this has started to yield benefits in terms of mainstreaming the use of Wikimedia projects, releasing content and creating new editors. Here I’ll give a brief introduction to some of our partnerships that show what chapters can achieve by working with other institutions.
It often takes a long time and repeated interactions with an institution to convince them of the worth of opening up content or employing a Wikimedian in residence (WiR) to work within the institution. Fortunately we started many such conversations five or more years ago, and you can see a list of all the partnerships we have organised since 2011 on our website here.
Over the past 18 months, two of our residencies have become permanent positions. At the National Library of Wales, Jason Evans (User:Jason.nlw) has just been appointed National Wikimedian, following a successful residency, which has resulted in 31 events, 11,385 images uploaded (receiving 262 million views), and a number of ancillary projects such as appointing the world's first Wikidata residency to turn the NLW's data into Wikidata.
At the Wellcome Library, our Wikimedian in residence, Dr Alice White (User:ZeroMonk), has been reappointed to continue her work promoting open knowledge among the staff at the Wellcome. Even before the residency started, the Wellcome had begun to release images on Open Licenses, and now almost 100,000 files from their collection have been uploaded to Commons with the help of the Wikimedia community.
GLAM partnerships have resulted in three conferences in different parts of the UK in the past year. In February we held a one-day education conference at Middlesex University to encourage educators to use Wikipedia in the classroom, with talks by academics about what they had learned from doing so. In May, our Welsh team of Robin Owain (User:Llywelyn2000) and Jason Evans organised an event in North Wales to encourage Welsh naturalists to improve content about the natural world on the Welsh Wikipedia. And in July, Ewan McAndrew, the Wikimedian in Residence at Edinburgh University, helped organise the Celtic Knot conference on minority languages, which attracted Wikimedians from outside the UK.
Another benefit of these GLAM partnerships is that they connect Wikimedia to experts from groups like the Women’s Classical Committee, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Royal College of Nursing which brings more experts to Wikipedia, who can help spot what is missing or lacking context, and who with training and supervision can produce great contributions to the encylopaedia.
Working with institutions helps raise awareness about how Wikipedia works and the community who make it possible. One of our successes in the past year was in partnering with the BBC on their 100 Women project, which led to a global editathon involving Wikimedia chapters and volunteers around the world, and helping us reach the BBC's international audience.
As we continue work with partner institutions, we hope to launch more projects that involve our community in training, speaking and technical support roles. We have lots of exciting ideas and possible projects planned for the coming year, so we hope you'll get involved if you live in the UK, as well as giving us feedback about what you would like to see us doing by watching our consultation video and engaging on our Water Cooler discussion.
We couldn't achieve the kind of impact we've had over the past year without our community, so we're very grateful for their support and hope to continue supporting their work as we look ahead to the next ten years of creating the sum of all knowledge.