May 27, 2022

Open Knowledge: Association of Research Libraries (ARL) Releases White Paper on the Use of Wikidata in Scholarly Communication, Special Collections

From an ARL News Post by Judy Ruttenberg:

In a new Association of Research Libraries (ARL) white paper, a task force of expert Wikidata users recommend a variety of ways for librarians to use the open knowledge base in advancing global discovery of their collections, faculty, and institutions.

Librarians are using Wikidata’s structured data about people, topics, concepts, and objects to populate open source faculty profiling systems, to enhance bibliographic records in online catalogs, and to collaborate with communities on meaningful, culturally relevant, descriptive metadata for special collections and archives. The white paper, circulated for public comment in fall 2018, contains examples of Wikidata applications, screenshots, and recommendations for involvement on an individual or organizational level.

“Creating original metadata that is exclusively contained in local systems doesn’t make sense in a global knowledge ecosystem,” said Stacy Allison-Cassin, member of the ARL Task Force on Wikimedia and Linked Open Data and digital pedagogy librarian at York University. “Depositing linked data in Wikidata, where it can be reused and linked to collections and knowledge all over the web, extends and expands the impact of metadata creation and strengthens our contribution to public goods.”

Beyond the task force, many library professionals from within and outside the Wikimedia community contributed to the white paper in draft form, offering a productive mix of enthusiasm and skepticism that improved the final product. ARL convened the task force and wrote this white paper to inform its membership about GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) activity in Wikidata and to highlight opportunities for research library involvement, particularly in community-based collections, community-owned infrastructure, and collective collections. Many in the international research community, including in libraries, are focused on community-owned infrastructure and robust metadata to facilitate open scholarship practices, and this paper takes a close look at Wikidata through that lens—as a public good worthy of examination and support.

Task Force Members

Stacy Allison-Cassin, York University
Alison Armstrong, Ohio State University
Phoebe Ayers, MIT; former trustee, Wikimedia Foundation
Tom Cramer, Stanford University
Mark Custer, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University Mairelys Lemus-Rojas, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
Sally McCallum, Library of Congress
Merrilee Proffitt, OCLC Research
Mark A. Puente, Association of Research Libraries
Judy Ruttenberg, Association of Research Libraries
Alex Stinson, Wikimedia Foundation

Direct to Full Text (60 pages; PDF)

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.