Like most WPLLA members, I remember a world before Wikipedia – a world before a web-based encyclopedia with articles on every conceivable subject, updated in real time, by hyper-focused lay experts devoted to their niche obsessions. As Wikipedia grew in popularity, it quickly became the first stop on a research expedition (or even just the go-to website to settle a debate amongst friends). But experts warned against using the site as an academic resource; after all, if anyone could edit a Wikipedia page, who knew what sort of unverifiable chaos was being presented as undeniable fact?
The OCLC Online Computer Library Center recently announced that it has paired with the Wikimedia Foundation’s Wikipedia Library. Now, when Wikipedia editors identify a citation within a Wikipedia article, and that citation is represented by library material held in WorldCat, the editor can link the citation to WorldCat material. WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library content and services.
The partnership between the OCLC and Wikipedia Library allows editors to generate a full, official citation for the cited material in the individual Wikipedia article. With formal citations, Wikipedia articles gain more clout in professional and academic circles. OCLC also hopes that the links to library materials from Wikipedia articles will encourage Wikipedia users to more fully utilize in-person library services.
The partnership announcement on the Wikimedia blog includes detailed, step-by-step instructions for how to use the newly developed citation tool.
If any WPLLA members are active Wikipedia editors, we’d love to know if you’ve used this tool yet. Any feedback would be fantastic – drop us a line and tell us all about your user experience!