January 27, 2022

“Meeting in the Middle: Wikipedia and Libraries” (An Interview with John Mark Ockerbloom)

From The Signpost (a Wikipedia Publication):

Wikipedia and libraries are in the same business. Both institutions want to make as much knowledge available to as many people as possible, free of charge. Despite these shared aims, the two groups have remained largely distant. Of course, there are librarians who are Wikimedians, and there are libraries that have worked with Wikipedia’s GLAM projects. There’s Wikipedia Loves Libraries. Wikipedians have developed tools and links to help integrate library resources, but these remain few and underused. Libraries contain vast stores of knowledge, and many want to meet Wikipedia halfway, somehow. How can Wikipedia better bridge the gap to that knowledge?


John Mark Ockerbloom (User:JohnMarkOckerbloom), a digital library architect and planner at the University of Pennsylvania, has devised a different platform, called “Forward to Libraries”. This service uses the Wikipedia article title as a subject or keyword search in the user’s library of choice, using the library’s online public access catalog, or OPAC. One can choose a library from a sub-page, or go directly to a library of choice by allowing browser cookies. Ockerbloom discussed his ideas in a blog post last week. Boing Boing contributor, fiction author and Wikipedian Cory Doctorow was impressed, calling the template “a fabulous proposal for creating research synergies between libraries and Wikipedia”. Ockerbloom’s new template is at Template:Library resources box. For an example of its use on a live page, see the “Further reading” section of Louisa May Alcott.

Read the Complete Interview

On a related note…Here’s a video of a presentation from the Fall 2012 CNI Meeting that recently was made available online.

It’s titled, “Wikipedia and Libraries: What’s the Connection?” and features:

Merrilee Proffitt
Senior Program Officer
OCLC Research

Sarah Snyder
Smithsonian Institution.

Wikipedia and Libraries: What’s the Connection? from CNI Video Channel on Vimeo.

Presentation Webpage (via CNI)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.