The Power of Shared Value Partnership: CIS-A2K & ACPR- GLAM Project

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This post aims to share a recap and success story of a transformative partnership that started in Belagavi (Karnataka, India) between the Academy of Comparative Philosophy & Religion (ACPR) and CIS-A2K. Founded in 1952 by philosopher and spiritual leader R. D. alias Gurudev Ranade, ACPR has been on a mission to digitize and preserve the invaluable works of Gurudev Ranade and this endeavor recently led them to collaborate with CIS-A2K and their introduction and contribution to the world of Wikimedia, unlocking new possibilities for sharing knowledge and wisdom. 

CIS-A2K is actively engaged in the pursuit of establishing content partnerships with esteemed organizations in order to facilitate the advancement and growth of Wikimedia communities in India. We believe ACPR’s knowledge repository holds substantial significance as a point of reference for editors within the Wikipedia community and readers of Wikisource. Hence CIS-A2K readily accepted the proposal and moved to the implementation phase.

Here is a recap of the journey of the CIS-A2K & ACPR GLAM project.

Introduction and Wikimedia Orientation

In August 2022, ACPR approached CIS-A2K to seek technical support in creating a digital archive of Gurudev Ranade’s work and was immediately introduced to the vast potential of various Wikimedia projects. Impressed by the principles of free licensing and open access, ACPR agreed to release their publications under relevant free licenses. Following which a familiarization session on the Wikimedia ecosystem was conducted by CIS-A2K in October 2022 with ACPR trustees and members. The session covered an in-depth demonstration of all Wikimedia projects, discussions on copyright issues, relicensing procedures, and the editing and uploading processes.

Database for Planning

The next crucial step was to create an exhaustive list of all publications, journals, and documents related to Gurudev Ranade’s philosophy. In November 2022, ACPR conducted a meeting with library staff, experienced trustees, and management members to compile this database. Categorizing the works into English, Kannada, Marathi, and Hindi, ACPR meticulously prepared accurate metadata for the 260 works by March 2023. Simultaneously, a dedicated room for scanning was set up, and personnel were identified to undertake the digitization process.

Digitization Set-up and Training Workshop

On 28 April 2023, a significant milestone was achieved as the ACPR GLAM project was officially launched through a training workshop and meetings with CIS-A2K. ACPR acquired a CZur scanner and received hands-on training in scanning and post-processing documents. With dedicated support from CIS-A2K ACPR’s enthusiastic team successfully scanned and processed 54 books within two months. To facilitate remote monitoring and review, plans were made to create step-by-step video tutorials covering various aspects of the scanning process.

Uploading on Wikimedia Projects and Inauguration

The GLAM portal on Wikimedia Commons was inaugurated on 6 June 2023 in a public ceremony at ACPR, coinciding with Gurudev Ranade’s death anniversary. A total of 58 books and 41 media files were uploaded under relevant categories, ensuring these valuable works reach a wider audience. Additionally, structured metadata for 60 books were created on Wikidata and linked to the respective files, facilitating seamless access to information. You can see the books and media files – here and here

Wikibase Project in Collaboration with Wikimedia Deutschland

One of the key aspirations of the ACPR team was to connect its repository and data with the global community, hence the idea of the Wikibase project was introduced. We facilitated an introductory session on Wikidata and Wikibase which inspired ACPR’s technical volunteers to contribute and develop the Wikibase. A second technical session by Wikimedia Deutschland was also organized to demonstrate the processes post which, in collaboration with Wikimedia Deutschland, ACPR began preparing structured data on various aspects of Gurudev Ranade’s life and works, including lectures, translated works, and institutions founded by him. Technical volunteers from ACPR have stepped forward to contribute actively to this endeavor, and they are planning to launch their own Wikibase soon.

Expanding the Impact

The CIS-A2K & ACPR- GLAM project’s valuable repository on philosophy and religion has caught the attention of nearby university departments. They are eager to engage their students in Wikimedia projects, and efforts are underway by CIS-A2K to connect them with existing language communities on Wikipedia and Wikisource. Moreover, the digitization set-up has inspired other knowledge repositories from Belagavi and surrounding districts to initiate similar projects.

In Conclusion

The journey of the CIS-A2K & ACPR- GLAM project has been nothing short of impactful. From preserving the wisdom of Gurudev Ranade in a digital archive to sharing it with the world through Wikimedia, ACPR has carved a unique path toward knowledge dissemination. Furthermore, the seamless collaboration between ACPR and CIS-A2K, coupled with the support of Wikimedia Deutschland, exemplifies the power of partnerships in driving meaningful impact.  We are actively seeking support from Wikimedia communities in the region and others interested to reach out to us and help the project grow and bring more institutions to embrace the spirit of open knowledge and free access for all.

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