Building Connected Libraries in Nigeria: Reflections from the Wikibase Journey

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Libraries are essential for communities that foster learning, research, creativity and innovation. They offer diverse and robust information resources and services that can aid learning and research. However, despite the rich resources contained in libraries, no library is self-sufficient in meeting the ever-increasing needs of its user community. More so, many libraries around the world struggle with budget cuts and limited infrastructure. This therefore reinforces the need for networking and collaboration among libraries. With collaborative platforms like Wikibase, libraries can share and connect their bibliographic records with other libraries in order to facilitate resource sharing and cooperation.

Why Wikibase?

Wikibase is a free and open-source software for creating collaborative knowledge bases and managing linked open data. With Wikibase, libraries are able to share their bibliographic records and other information in a standardized way with other libraries and librarians, so as to facilitate collaboration and resource sharing among them. This will ultimately lead to improved access to information for library users, efficient use of library resources and reduced cost for libraries.

The Wikibase in Nigerian Libraries Journey

The first phase of the Wikibase in Nigerian Libraries Project began in 2022 with a virtual Webinar organized for Librarians in Nigeria, as part of the activities to mark the 2022 International Open Access Week. The webinar, which focused on Wikibase and Linked Open Data, was facilitated by Alan Ang, Partner Manager at Wikimedia Deutschland and Mohammed Sadat Abdulai, Community Communications Manager, Wikidata/Wikibase. The event had about 90 librarians in attendance. See details here

The second phase of the project featured a pilot Wikibase project at Glorious Vision University Library, as well as a 2-day in-person Wikibase Workshop for selected Librarians in Nigeria. The in-person workshop took place at the Niger Delta University Library, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State. The workshop covered different aspects of Wikibase, including how to set up a Wikibase.Cloud account, Wikibase Instances, as well as how to populate the Wikibase instance. Participants were also trained to import data into Wikibase instances via QuickStatements. The detailed program of activities for the 2-day workshop can be found here. At the end of the workshop, the participants were able to create and populate their Wikibase instances. See the list of wikibase instances created here.  

Reflections from the Wikibase in Nigerian Libraries Project:

The implementation of both phases of the Wikibase project in Nigerian Libraries was largely successful, paving the way for a more connected and knowledge-rich library landscape in Nigeria. Here are some reflections from the project:

1.    Capacity Building: Training Nigerian librarians on Wikibase usage and data modeling was crucial, given the technicalities involved in the implementation of the software in Libraries. Hence, the training involved a train-the-trainer approach, where a selected group where earlier trained virtually, before the in-person workshop was organized.

2.   Value of Collaboration – Libraries are stronger together: Bringing libraries together on a shared platform fosters knowledge exchange, resource sharing, and a sense of community. More libraries are needed to participate in this initiative in order to create a knowledge-rich library landscape.

3.    Local Context Matters: Successful implementation of Wikibase in a given setting requires the adaptation of the software to the specific needs and challenges of libraries in that region. The flexibility and scalability of Wikibase allows libraries to set up their own data models that fit local library practices.

4. Beyond Bibliographic Data: Aside from sharing of bibliographic data, Wikibase could potentially be used to manage other types of library data, such as historical archives, local knowledge materials, and cultural artifacts. This therefore opens doors for enriching the platform and preserving valuable cultural heritage.

The Future of Wikibase in Nigerian Libraries:

The future of Wikibase in Nigerian libraries is bright. The integration of Wikibase in Nigerian Libraries could potentially transform the Nigerian library space into a centralized system that will facilitate the creation, enrichment, and dissemination of information, while also fostering a culture of collaboration among libraries nationwide. Wikibase has the potential to revolutionize the way libraries operate and share information, and it is poised to play a major role in the development of Nigeria’s information infrastructure.

Project Implementation Team:

User: Omorodion1 (Project Lead/Coordinator) – is an experienced Wikimedian and Librarian. He is a certified Wikimedia Campaign organizer. User Omorodion1 has organized and facilitated several Wikimedia events within and outside Nigeria.

User: Alan Ang (WMDE) (Project Advisor and Facilitator 1): Alan is a Partner Manager at Wikimedia Deutschland. He has facilitated and coordinated several linked open data training within the Wikimedia community.

User: Mohammed Sadat (WMDE) (Project Advisor and Facilitator 2) – Mohammed is the Community Communication Manager at Wikidata. He has facilitated several Wikidata/Wikibase trainings within and outside Africa. He was the Wikidata resource person at the second iteration of the Africa Open data conference in 2017.

User: Christos Varvantakis (WMDE) (Project Advisor and Facilitator 3) Christos is a Partner Manager at Wikimedia Deutschland. He has designed and facilitated several Wikibase trainings and workshops internationally.

User: Nosakhare Okuons (Publicity and Logistics) – is an experienced Wikimedian and Librarian. He has organized and facilitated and several Wikimedia events

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