#1Lib1Ref: Calling librarians around the world to improve Wikipedia

It is hard to believe that it’s been over a year since the declaration of a pandemic. 2020 highlighted how fragile our lives are and how easily our freedoms could be curtailed by a global crisis. Amidst the crisis, the world turned to the internet for learning and communication. 

But on the internet, accessibility of high quality information can be frustratingly broken: information is scattered across the web (or not present on the internet at all), and the pandemic has highlighted just how prominent and problematic fake news can be in our day-to-day lives, and how quickly misinformation can circulate in fractured information environments.

The closure of libraries, museums and other knowledge-bearing institutions create a void in information accessibility — and tragedies, like the wildfire last month that damaged the University of Cape Town campus and many of its library’s most unique holdings, remind us how those temporary closures can become permanent losses. When this information is not accessible, learners look to other places for information, and we hope they find the best sources. Wikipedia’s use increased during the pandemic,  thanks to two decades of a global volunteer network curating reliable knowledge.

High quality information can’t be maintained on Wikipedia alone. It only works with a global community of contributors. We need every librarian, student, researcher and avid information user to join us in strengthening Wikipedia. One of the best ways to do this is by adding missing citations, also known as references, to Wikipedia articles. That’s why we invite you to #1Lib1Ref.

“Missing information is not like a plumbing problem you fix. Its a social condition, like a crime, that you must constantly monitor and adjust to”

Tom Rosenstiel

What is #1Lib1Ref?

For the past six years, Wikipedia has been addressing information gaps through the annual #1Lib1Ref (One Librarian, One Reference) campaign; and the pandemic reminded us of just how critical this adding of quality citations is for our readers. 

#1Lib1Ref is a simple, yet powerful call to action to librarians and other information professionals, academics, researchers (and really any interested reader) to add a reference, that is, a citation to a credible information source, to Wikipedia to make it more reliable. The campaign, which runs annually from 15 January to 5 February and 15 May to 5 June, envisions a world in which every librarian (or archivist, reference professional, or scholar) adds one more reference to Wikipedia. It highlights the contribution philosophy of Wikipedia — “anyone can edit” — and calls on a professional network of people through which the world can reach reliable information. It’s just a reminder of how critical citations are to a reliable internet and for communities like Wikipedia. Helping fill gaps around knowledge missing on Wikipedia requires communities from all parts of the world to bring the highest quality sources of information. If literally everyone in these professions answered this call, Wikipedia’s “citation needed” problem could be fixed practically overnight.

“Wikipedia is only as strong as its sources. And our sources are only as strong as the knowledge stewards that make them accessible to the world.”

Katherine Maher

The sources we add to Wikipedia are the best tool for providing reliable information.And access to sources would not happen without librarians. Librarians have been some of the closest allies of  Wikipedia., We benefit daily from the thoughtful contributions and critical eye of the library community in curating the world’s reference materials, and when librarians join us on Wikipedia, they help us critically change the global representativeness and diversity of our content. 

Librarians are among the most important knowledge stewards — year round, they serve as trusted professionals who help facilitate access to reliable information resources for their patrons, and teach them to build the digital literacy skills needed for confronting the misinformation crisis. #1Lib1Ref is just one more extension of that mission.

How to participate in #1Lib1Ref:

Though the name of the campaign literally means, “One Librarian, One Reference,” #1Lib1Ref has grown to include participation from archivists, professors, researchers, and other Wikimedia volunteer editors.

Anyone (yes, you!) can participate in the campaign through five easy steps:

  1. Find an article that needs a citation, using Citation Hunt or any other preferred means.
  2. Find a reliable source that can support that article.
  3. Add a citation using referencing tools.
  4. Add the project hashtag #1Lib1Ref in the article’s edit summary.
  5. Share your edit(s) on social media and invite others to participate!

It’s that easy!

Join our campaigns in Asia and Africa:

This May we are particularly excited about activities happening in Asia and Africa: 

Asia campaign 

We have experimented around regionalisation in the past two years, an approach that has shown promise. This round, we are exploring similar tactics for the Southeast Asia region in order to encourage locally relevant content creation. We would like to invite knowledge and information patrons in the region to participate in showcasing their diverse cultures and knowledge traditions. Participants are encouraged to add citations generally to articles of interest, and also specifically around articles about the diverse rich culture of the region;  local music, literature, movie, food, etc. 

Learning about other cultures allows one to have a better understanding of the world we live in. Cultural diversity aids us in recognizing and respecting different “ways of being”, and Wikipedia is an ideal platform for us to share the knowledge with others all over the world.  Follow our global event list for activities happening around you!

Africa campaign

In our quest to improve participation and ensure diversity in content sources on Wikipedia, we partnered with the African Library and Information Associations and Institutions (AfLIA) in 2020 to regionalise the campaign. This year, the campaign in Africa (#AfLibWk) will run from the 17 to 24 May and its focus is on articles under the theme “learning in Africa”. The theme encompasses: 

– Formal learning institutions at different levels of education in Africa 

– African libraries as learning spaces 

– Informal learning through apprenticeship schemes and customary rites of some ethnic groups

– Learning systems and infrastructure including those that enable physical and digital learning

-Architecture of learning in Africa

Click here to register for #AfLibWk training sessions.

Join the 1Lib1Ref Wikidata Campaign:

The International Federation of Library Institutions and Associations (IFLA) Wikidata working group is taking a new direction with the #1Lib1Ref campaign this year. They are adding citations to improve the quality and reliability of the human and machine readable data that is curated on Wikidata! You can participate by learning more about the campaign or joining any of their upcoming training sessions

Visit 1lib1ref.org for more information!