LocalWiki <3s libraries!

This entry documents how LocalWiki is being used by libraries and library students. We hope that it might serve as an inspiration and guide for librarians, library students, LocalWiki enthusiasts, and anyone else who might be interested in the intersection of LocalWiki and libraries.

Table of Contents

Volunteers scan primary documents at the first Oakland Wiki local history writeathon at the Oakland History Room in the main branch of the public library.

Get in touch with LocalWiki librarians!

The LocalWiki and Libraries listserv is at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/localwikiandlibraries. Please feel free to join and ask any questions. There's a Google + Community as well.

People also like to chat on twitter. You can see some twitter handles of people affiliated with specific cities above and on the list of LocalWikians on twitter. There's a Twitter list here also.

How libraries are working with LocalWiki

Please add more in-depth information here! Quick info & contact information on other projects can be found in the section below.

Champaign-Urbana, IL

The fall 2013 Community Informatics class (LIS 518A) at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Graduate School of Library and Information Science taught by Asst. Prof. Kate Williams included a semester-long project where students updated the Champaign-Urbana LocalWiki. On Oct. 13, 2013, Marina Kukso from LocalWiki gave a remote presentation to the class on growing LocalWiki communities, how LocalWikis can be used by public libraries, and the future of LocalWiki collaboration. You can see a recording of the talk here.

Here is a slideshow about LocalWiki & library engagement by Brian Zelip presented at a regional Code{4}Lib conference, fall 2013.

Oakland, CA

In Oakland, volunteers have collaborated with the library to host editathons and also to work in special collections, holding editathons in the archive room itself, doing original research, and publishing it directly to the wiki.

Getting an orientation to the Oakland History Room from librarian Martha Bergmann at Oakland Wiki's first Local History Editathon.In early 2013, Oakland Wiki volunteers first began collaborating with Oakland Public Library librarians to organize a number of weekly editathons at the Oakland History Room (the official local history archive of the city of Oakland). The library doesn't have an active digitization program and all of its materials are non-circulating (which is how the volunteers decided to meet in the History Room itself).

At the first editathon, Oakland History Room librarians provided a tour of the History Room's archives and prepared handouts to help orient participants. Volunteers later added this information to the entry for the Oakland History Room for the benefit of future researchers. As a result of these events, a number of local history enthusiasts became aware of the wiki and ended up becoming regular contributors. As of late 2013, local history is one of the best-covered areas of the wiki.

Oakland Librarian Martha Bergmann shows the Sanborn Maps to participants of Oakland Wiki's first Local History EditathonHere are some statistics on history documentation on Oakland Wiki (as of Oct. 2013):

In Spring 2014, Oakland Wiki volunteers once again worked with the library, this time on a spring series of editathons that took place at different branches, taking advantage of each library's unique locally-focused holdings.

Ann Arbor, MI

March 2014 LocalWiki edit party hosted by the Ann Arbor District LibraryThe Ann Arbor LocalWiki has a long and close relationship with the Ann Arbor District Library system. The ArborWiki project originally began as a project by Matt Hampel at the AADL back in 2005.  Today, the Ann Arbor District Library hosts regular Ann Arbor LocalWiki edit parties and are looking for ways to improve the Ann Arbor LocalWiki. They are even applying for LocalWiki-involved grant opportunities.

Tulsa, OK

Over 60 people attended the Tulsa Central Library's LocalWiki editathon, jointly held with Code for Tulsa.The Tulsa Central Library took the lead on the Tulsa LocalWiki, creating and seeding the project.  The library also worked with Code for Tulsa to organize and host a massive editathon where over 60 participants added entries and maps to the project.

San Francisco, CA

Gathering around a table at the Prelinger Library gentrification and displacement editathon.In San Francisco, LocalWiki volunteers partnered with the Prelinger Library on a series of LocalWiki editathons focused on gentrification and displacement in the city:

"Our host was the wonderful Prelinger Library, an 'appropriation-friendly' library strong in San Francisco history, particularly land use, city planning and redevelopment, activism, and migrations. They pulled out piles of relevant materials for editors to use. You might guess a library of neat old books and rare magazines would be good for research, but it's even better for inspiration. Every editor gets the feeling of not knowing what to edit next, especially new editors—but here you could just pick up an original pamphlet on the displacement of residents in the Western Addition in the 1960s, and leaf through it to find good topics to tackle."

Lots more information on this editathon series, including some of the great pages that were created, can be found in this blog post.

Arlington Heights, IL

Bill Pardue of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library shows a visitor how to use the AH LocalWiki.The Arlington Heights Memorial Library had for years maintained a database, in various forms, of information about local community organizations and other local entities. In the 90s, the library used the NorthStarNet system for this purpose, and then in 2006 shifted to a library-run information portal.  Their workflow was to send paper mailings out, once a month, to organizations and volunteers, who would then fax or call the library back to update their listings.  The library volunteers would then update entries in a local Access database.

The Arlington Heights Memorial Library became really interested in LocalWiki, and worked to port over their existing community information database to LocalWiki.  They've also held editathons at the library. Bill Pardue of the AHML also gave a talk at the Computers in Libraries 2014 conference on their experience with LocalWiki.

Chattanooga, TN

Covenant College students participate in a LocalWiki editathon hosted at the Chattanooga Library.The Fourth Floor at the Chattanooga Library is an unofficial partner of the Chattanooga LocalWiki, and the library has hosted LocalWiki editathons & meetups! (Contact: Nate Hill @natenatenate)

Detroit, MI

Edward Vielmetti gives a talk at Detroit Public Library about preserving historical musical memory using LocalWiki.Detroit LocalWiki editathons and events have been held at the Detroit Public Library, including events by Detroit Sound Conservancy.  The Detroit Sound Conservancy has been working to preserve historical and contemporary knowledge about the music scene in Detroit using LocalWiki as well as Wikipedia.



More info on libraries & librarians working with LocalWiki:

Please feel free to add any experiment your library is trying out here!

  • Arlington Heights, IL:
  • Ann Arbor:
  • Boise:
    • Contacts: Amy Vecchione (@librarythinking) and Leslie Madsen-Brooks (@lesliemb)
    • Activities:
      • The Boise LocalWiki was started by Boise State history professor Leslie Madsen-Brooks. She has used the LocalWiki as an assigment in a number of classes, having students create content on the Boise LocalWiki as part of their coursework.
      • Amy Vecchione is a Digital Access Librarian at Boise State University and is working on ways to incorporate LocalWiki into the library!
  • Champaign-Urbana:
  • Chattanooga: The Fourth Floor at the Chattanooga Library is an unofficial partner of the Chattanooga LocalWiki
    • Contacts: Nate Hill (@natenatenate)
    • Activities:
      • As of early 2014, the Fourth Floor has hosted a Chattanooga LocalWiki meetup and supports the effort!
  • Chicago:
    • Contacts: Erica Gamble (@gamble4lib)
    • Activities:
      • As of early 2014, the Chicago LocalWiki is just getting off the ground. Although it isn't "officially" affiliated with any library, librarians and library students are into it and thinking of ways that they can incorporate it into their work.
  • Fremont, CA
    • Activities: Used localwiki for an Information Literacy course. Huge success!! More information when I get time to write.
  • Oakland: Oakland Public Library has partnered a lot with the Oakland LocalWiki!
    • Contacts:  Ivan Silva (@arkipelagu), Vicky Knox (@_eekiv), Mana Tominaga (@manatominaga), @marinakukso,
    • Activities:
      • Editathons at special collections, including the history room.
      • Series of editathons at different branches focusing on different issues that are of relevance to the communities around those branches.
  • San Francisco:
  • Skokie:
    • Contacts: Nitoshia L. Ford (@nlford81, SkokieWiki)
    • Activities:  Skokie Public Library is helping facilitate the growth and maintenance of SkokieWiki.
  • Tulsa

How can I use LocalWiki as a librarian?

  • Hold editathons at the library.
    • Editathons are events where people come together to add content to the wiki. Editathons can be "general" (about any topic in the community), or focused on a specific neighborhood, community, topic, or archive.
  • Use your community's LocalWiki as an open, crowdsourced database of community resources.
    • These could include social services, volunteer opportunities, etc. A good example of this is the Oakland Wiki Resources database. See also: the Champaign-Urbana community informatics project (above).
  • Use LocalWiki as part of an adult literacy program.

    • Help adult learners cultivate their digital literacy and storytelling skills through digital storytelling. Share local knowledge and stories from the perspectives of community members who, in many instances, have had limited opportunities or experience in contributing their knowledge to the world of online media.

  • Use LocalWiki as a local history archive.

    • Hold editathons, use LocalWiki as a collaborative fact-checker and as a research platform for your favorite urban legend.

  • Encourage youth to edit the wiki.

    • This can be part of a summer reading program, or as a part of youth programming. Partner with local schools and cultural institutions to encourage students to develop research, writing, and web skills through the creation of LocalWiki content. Youth can add information about youth artists and musicians, youth culture, and perspectives on the community. Youth can make the wiki their own!

  • Use LocalWiki as part of a community engagement project.
    • On Sept. 17, 2013, Berkeley Public Library librarian Andrea Mullarkey wrote a proposal for using LocalWiki for community engagement at Berkeley Public Library. This proposal was written in response to an assignment on community engagement for a MOOC on the Hyperlinked Library.
  • Archive local music, art, festivals, and other cultural expression unique to your city.


Basic information

Materials for you to use

Presentations, videos, readings, and more

  • Mita Williams (@copystar), librarian at University of Windsor, discussed how libraries can work with LocalWiki in her keynote address at the 2014 Library Technology Conference. Text and slides are here.

  • Here is a slideshow about LocalWiki prepared by Brian Zelip (@bzelip) from the Library and Information Sciences program at Urbana-Champaign.

  • On Sept. 17, 2013, Berkeley Public Library librarian Andrea Mullarkey wrote a proposal for using LocalWiki for community engagement at Berkeley Public Library. This proposal was written in response to an assignment on community engagement for a MOOC on the Hyperlinked Library.
  • This NYTimes article about how museums, archives, and libraries are working with Wikipedia can maybe help us think of ways that LocalWiki can be used in public libraries.

  • A (quite long) recording of Marina Kukso's Skype with Prof. Kate Williams' fall 2013 Community Informatics class (LIS 518A) at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Common Questions

Check out the LocalWiki FAQ for answers to questions like "What is LocalWiki?," "How is accuracy maintained?," and "What kinds of things are good to write about on LocalWiki?"

Here are some questions that a librarian might have about LocalWiki:

What are the standards for citations/references and is there a style guide?

While citations are encouraged, LocalWiki standards are more relaxed than Wikipedia's because our mission is not encyclopedic; we encourage personal, colloquial, situated, and informal knowledge (a lot of which simply can't be referenced); we encourage participation and see this as a goal with higher priority than the need for perfect citation from the get-go; and finally, we've found that entries improve over time, - and citations get filled out and corrected - so we encourage taking a more relaxed approach to this in the beginning.

That being said, LocalWiki has the potential to be a rich resource of extremely high quality information, so if there are contributors who are interested in providing detailed references, they should definitely do so! In the past, our approach in helping others to share content on LocalWiki has been to encourage them to share their knowledge first, and then help them to find ways to use the platform in whatever style they like (sometimes that involves not providing many citations, sometimes it involves providing a lot).

Finally, our attitude towards style guides is that it's up to the community on a particular LocalWiki to decide what they want their style guide to look like. For a few examples, check out http://daviswiki.org/Wiki_Style_Guide and http://oaklandwiki.org/Conflicting_Oakland_Wiki_Philosophies.

What are the most common issues when showing people how to contribute to LocalWiki?

Many librarians have indicated that digital literacy is a very common issue.

How much do you teach info literacy when showing people how to contribute to LocalWiki?

It depends on how much the person is interested in learning and whether it's an issue that comes up.

Related Events

Bill Pardue from Arlington Heights, IL gave a talk about LocalWiki at the Computers in Libraries 2014 conference. His talk covered the experience of the Arlington Heights library with LocalWiki and took place on Wed. April 9th from 3:45PM-4:30PM EST. Details at http://www.infotoday.com/CIL2014/Wednesday.asp

Sometimes we have LocalWiki and libraries hangouts! Check out the LocalWiki events list for any upcoming events and remember that you can organize one as well!

Learn More

We see libraries and librarians as key partners in the movement to collect, share, and open the world's local knowledge. As such, we are engaged in a number of collaborations with libraries and librarians and plan to expand our work with the library community as we come closer to the launch of our new platform. If you are a librarian or affiliated with a library and want to do something with us, please feel free to contact Vicky Knox, LocalWiki's community point person!