#LD42023 VI: Imagining a Wikidata Future for Librarians, Together

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This is the sixth and final blog post on the #LD42023 blog series on Diff. In this series, Silvia Gutiérrez and Giovanna Fontenelle (from the Culture and Heritage team at the Wikimedia Foundation) have put together the results of the collaborative session that sought to build a direct bridge between the Library-Wikidata community and WMF during the 2023 LD4 Conference on Linked Data. 

To start reading from the beginning, this is the link for the first publication. Every post describes at length the five Jamboard frames used in this workshop. This last one will address the fifth frame, which is part of the “future” section of the workshop. 

Screenshot of a slide with several phrases, as well as emojis of raised hands and DNAs
How can we address these challenges? The section starts at 1:05:32

The goal of this last frame was to support the participants in gaining a deeper understanding of their collective aspirations and chart a course for the path ahead, especially after working on the previous frames: 

What brought you to be a librarian who uses Wikidata?
What GLAMs working with linked data on the Wikimedia projects do you know about?
– What tools or aspects of Wikidata are particularly useful for your work?
What tools or aspects of Wikidata are particularly challenging or difficult for your work? 

Collaborative groups were formed to tackle three core ideas: Identifying what has worked well; pinpointing challenges; and formulating solutions using “I statements”, which are expressions of individual desires to help shape the community’s future. The example we used was “I would like to create a game to add structured data to Commons” – and some of the answers were even bolder than that! We also asked other participants, in this frame, to add emojis of “raised hands” (🙌) and hearts (❤️) to the ones they agreed and liked.

Analyzing the results of the statements, we can divide them into four categories: 1) ideas for others to accomplish; 2) Engaging with the community more; 3) actively creating a result; and 4) important remarks to take into account.”

1) Under the category we named “ideas for others to accomplish”, the suggestion was: “I would like someone else to create a carpentries style Wikidata for Libraries curriculum. (1 🙌).” This was interesting because they were talking about the Library Carpentry course, which is very well-known among librarians. In the meantime, someone else mentioned that, even though they hadn’t worked through it themselves, they knew the Library Carpentries had a Wikidata course in “conceptual” status. 

Another interesting aspect of that comment is how the Library Carpentry also has an OpenRefine course, which is a tool well-known by librarians and Wikimedians contributing to GLAMs (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums), that we mentioned in several of our posts in this series, and that is used to upload data to Wikidata. Recently, OpenRefine also developed a Wikimedia Commons extension, allowing users to upload files and add structured data to Wikimedia Commons’ images using the tool. As part of the development for this extension, OpenRefine has also conducted two courses: the WikiLearn course “OpenRefine for Wikimedia Commons: the basics” (already available for anyone with a Wikimedia account) and a Train-the-Trainer course, in which the first task was to accomplish, precisely, the LC’s OpenRefine course.

2) In the “Engaging with the community more” category, we noticed that Librarians are really keen to find ways to connect, engage, and support each other in their exploration of Wikimedia and Libraries. There’s a strong desire to be part of a network of support and to use the space to gain and distribute more knowledge collaboratively. This was really clear by this comment: “I will explore the Wikiproject pages and be more proactive in the community around the items related to my projects—to be more confident ‘imposing’ my data model but also to make sure the model is a useful development of current work. (3 🙌)“. If you’re also interested in exploring WikiProjects here are some that might be relevant for you as a librarian:

  • Books, which was formed to organize and promote quality coverage of non-fiction books on Wikipedia.
  • Authority control, which aims to improve the quantity and quality of external identifiers present on Wikidata.
  • PCC Wikidata Pilot, this project is overseen by the PCC Task Group on Identity Management in NACO, and its aim is to explore and assess the feasibility of utilizing Wikidata as a platform for identity management within the library and cultural heritage communities. 
  • Archival Description, this project has three main objectives: to create the world’s most comprehensive high-quality database of archival and heritage collections, to represent archival structures within Wikidata, and to ensure the interlinking between archival finding aids and Wikidata. 
  • Last but not least, LD4 (previously the Linked Data for Production project) goes beyond a WikiProject; it is now a community that meets regularly and discusses “linked data efforts in libraries”.

3) Connected to this idea of taking part in the community and creating a result, we came up with the “Actively creating a result” category with responses that show how librarians want to engage with others and create results not only for themselves, but to also fortify this community: “I can create small discrete datasets for my practice, and the practice of others (1 🙌)” and “I would like to create summer camps to learn Wikidata together (1 🙌).

4) Finally, we have the final category with the “important remarks to take into account”, which are talking about some specific problems and challenges of the space that need to be addressed soon:

  • “I volunteer for SUCHO, and in our use of Wikidata for building datasets that allow us to do emergency web-archiving and to build emergency relationships with cultural heritage institutions in Ukraine, we encounter a lot of inconsistency in the use of “instance of” when it comes to institution types (“art museum” vs. “art gallery”, etc), the structure of administrative divisions, and in the English-language label for places or institutions that might use a Russian name or transliteration even for institutions that have Ukrainian names. (Just to name a few)”
  • “Strongly agree on the learning curve to using these tools effectively. It’s hard to carve out the time to immerse yourself enough to feel comfortable (at least in my experience)”

Analyzing these comments, we noticed that the mission of Librarians is pretty evident in the way they show up and involve themselves with the Wikimedia/Wikidata communities. For Librarians, the idea of “knowledge as a service” is a prime directive and they really demonstrated this in this session, by not only looking for this space to gather more knowledge themselves and get better at their work activities, but also to help others and to create a better and safe space for learning via the usage and sharing of data. 

This is the end of our series! Do you want to read it from the beginning? Here’s the list of links to the previous posts:

  1. #LD42023 I: The Future of Wikidata + Libraries (A Workshop)
  2. #LD42023 II: Getting to Know Each Other, Librarians in the Wikidata World
  3. #LD42023 III: The Examples, Libraries Using Wikidata
  4. #LD42023 IV: Wikidata Tools everyone is talking about
  5. #LD42023 V: Main Challenges of Wikidata for Librarians
  6. #LD42023 VI: Imagining a Wikidata Future for Librarians, Together (this post!)👈

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