What exactly is GLAM-Wiki?

As I described in my first post, I’m writing this blog as a useful guide for cooperation of digital humanities (DH) and GLAM professionals with Wikimedia projects, using my internship with the Blake Archive as a case study. But before the semester starts (August 26), and I focus on the specifics of what I do with the Blake Archive internship, I thought I would give a little background on GLAM-Wiki for those of you unfamiliar with the concept. If you already know about GLAM-Wiki and want to learn about something else about my Blake internship or have any questions, make sure that you leave me a comment below! It always helps to know what the readership wants is interested in.

When I say I am going to talk about GLAM, I don’t mean David Bowie types. (If you want to learn about GLAM Rockers, check out the cultural studies classic Hebdige’s Subculture: The Meaning of Style). Rather, I use GLAM as an acronym for Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums or more generally the community of institutions tasked with preserving our cultural heritage. GLAM-Wiki refers to the efforts within the Wikimedia community to reach out to those cultural institutions and encourage them to share their content and create new specialist content on Wikimedia websites to help encourage better access to the research and materials the GLAMs make available for the public (Wikimedia websites? Yes there is more then Wikipedia, check out the list at http://www.wikimedia.org/ ).

A series of activities and events by Wikimedians around the world have diversified and expanded the scope of those cooperations from small gatherings of volunteers to edit Wikipedia articles, to long term development of content on both GLAM websites and Wikimedia projects. One of the earliest documented cooperations was in 2008, when the Federal Archive in Germany (Bundesarchiv) donated thousands of images to Wikimedia projects. Another important landmarks is in 2010 when the British Museum brought Liam Wyatt, an Australian Wikimedia volunteer, into their organization as the first “Wikipedian in Residence” (WiR). As a Wikipedian in Residence, he coordinated a number of collaborations including donating digital media, engaging volunteers in writing informational content on Wikipedia and measuring the impact of the collaboration on the British Museum and their web presence. Since, both types of collaboration alongside a number of new practices and digital tools have been very successful and practiced throughout the world ( I will explore these projects more as we go through the semester. See the below graph showing WiRs, only a portion of projects which are documented at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:GLAM/Projects).

A chart showing the Wikipedians in Residence up to 2012 from

To coordinate efforts and to create a repository of best practices, the volunteer community supporting GLAM and Wikimedia cooperation has since become a GLAM-Wiki network of contributors. Furthermore, in the United States, because there are a disproportionately smaller number of individuals trained and able to support these collaborations in comparison to the number of organizations interested in having a GLAM-Wiki collaboration, the volunteer community has established the GLAM-Wiki US Consortium to support organizations interested in cooperation and in training new facilitators. As I go through my internship, I will be exploring more of how these communities function and where to find resources and ideas about Wikimedia projects. 

I hope this was helpful for those of you unfamiliar with GLAM-Wiki! How would you characterize your experiences with GLAM-Wiki? What is important to know about the movement and the activities related?


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