May 23, 2022

The Signpost Features Article About The Wikipedia Library

The Signpost is a weekly independent newsletter that covers Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects that is hosted on the Wikipedia site. It’s an excellent way to stay current about projects.

The current issue of The Signpost includes an article about the Wikipedia Library.

From the Article (Runs about 1050 words):

This week, the Signpost caught up with the Wikipedia Library (TWL), which aims to connect reference resources with Wikipedia editors who can use them to improve articles. Funded through the Wikimedia Foundation’s Individual Engagement Grants program, TWL has several initiatives coming up (including “visiting scholars” and an Arabic Wikipedia microgrants program).


It declares on its Wikipedia page that it has five “big goals” to accomplish:

  • Connect editors with their local library and freely accessible resources
  • Partner to provide free access to paywalled publications, databases, universities, and libraries
  • Build relationships among our community of editors, libraries, and librarians
  • Facilitate research for Wikipedians, helping editors to find and use sources
  • Promote broader open access in publishing and research


On Free Accounts to Subscription Databases Being Made Available to Paywalled Databases

While TWL has a program in place with JSTOR, it only opened up 100 free accounts. This left around 200 still waiting on the list, with the potential for far more—TWL’s Questia partnership had over 400 applicants, while HighBeam gave out about 1000 accounts. This has resulted in, as of publishing time, 7052 links to Questia and even more to HighBeam. Ocaasi [Jake Orlowitz, the overall coordinator of TWL] remarked that “it’s clear our pilot program has only whetted the appetites of editors for more”, and “we are working very hard to expand that offering.”

TWL is also in talks with the New York TimesEBSCOProquest, the Oxford University PressMIT PressInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and Science, among others, to open up their archives to Wikipedians. They narrowly missed out with LexisNexis, even having a meeting with eight department executives, but they were unable to sort out a host of legal issues. This isn’t unusual, as Ocaasi noted: “It’s part of the process that we have hits and misses, both in arranging partners, and finding resources the community really wants and needs.”

Beyond free accounts, what does the future look like for the Wikipedia Library? A new “visiting scholars” program affiliated with TWL offers a promising alternative: it is a pilot that will see Wikipedia editors paired with university libraries to gain access to their collections and reference resources. Ocaasi told the Signpost that such scholars would be unpaid but official staffers of the university, with remote access to the library’s offerings.

Read the Complete Article

Comment: What about a partnership between the public library community (or local public libraries) and Wikipedia Library to promote the access these libraries offer to paywalled databases?

Direct to The Wikipedia Library

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.