Simplifying your research needs: The Wikipedia Library launches new technical improvements and partnerships

Originally published at: https://space.wmflabs.org/2020/06/24/simplifying-your-research-needs-the-wikipedia-library-launches-new-technical-improvements-and-partnerships/

Encountering a paywall when looking for reliable sources can be a frustrating, limiting roadblock during the editing process. Especially during the ongoing pandemic, finding a local library or institution with the right subscriptions can be a real challenge. The Wikipedia Library, a project of the Wikimedia Foundation, provides solutions for editors by offering free access to content from many of the world’s leading publishers and aggregators, including more than 100,000 unique periodicals, books, archives, and other collections.

Today, we are excited to announce new technical improvements to the Library Card platform that will make most content accessible using just your Wikipedia login. Additionally, editors can now qualify for instant access to some collections with no application needed through the Library Bundle. We are also making six new publisher partners available, including Springer Nature (on a one-year pilot) and ProQuest. Log in now to see if you qualify for access, and read on for more information!

IP-based access

The changes we’ve deployed to the Library Card platform will address previous issues limiting access: before, editors had to sign up for accounts on a per-collection basis, and experienced long turnaround times. With IP-based access and the Library Bundle, editors can use one key to unlock many collections.

IP-based access allows users to use their Wikimedia login for direct access to all partners who can accept authentication through the Library Card. At launch, this will be possible for more than half of our partners, totalling more than 80% of available content. This will greatly improve the ease of access for users. Proxy integration isn’t a major departure from the current setup: the same individually-approved users have access to one partner’s content per application; they will just be accessing it directly through a single authenticated login proxy rather than a username and password distributed for each website. This allows us to grant access much faster, as we no longer need to wait for publishers to set the accounts up, and we know exactly when those accounts expire and/or require renewal. We expect this to reduce the turnaround time for applications from a few weeks to a few days at maximum!

Library Bundle

A very exciting second addition to our signup model is the Library Bundle. The Library Bundle gives any editor who meets account age, edit count, and recent activity criteria automatic access to a subset of Wikipedia Library collections, removing the application and approval steps. Approximately 25,000 editors across the Wikimedia community are eligible to access this content right now!

The Library Bundle provides immediate access to participating partner resources for eligible Wikimedians, without having to file an application and with no need to worry about only using that access for a handful of sources at a time. To automate the account coordinator check for recent activity and good standing in the community, we have implemented requirements beyond the current 500 edits and account age of six months. These checks now include an automated recent activity check (10 edits in the past month) and not currently being blocked. The Bundle runs on an opt-in model that some partners have chosen to be a part of, comprising more than 60% of our available content.

To be a truly one-stop solution, we need your help. Wikimedia projects span more than 250 languages, and we want the Library Card platform to be accessible to editors from all of them. If you can write in a language other than English and have some time to spare, please visit translatewiki.net to help translate the tool!

In the coming year, we are working on a new phase of the Library Card Platform that will help improve the overall usability of the tool and solve the issue of users needing to browse partner-by-partner for needed resources. We will be implementing an integrated search tool that will index partner resources and provide search across all publishers via a single interface. Once these changes are deployed, editors will be able to access authorized websites and view content from one place.

New partnerships

We are also pleased to announce that six new organisations have partnered with the Wikipedia Library to make their information more accessible:

  • BioOne is providing 50 accounts to editors, with access to journals in the biological, ecological, and environmental sciences.
  • CEEOL also joins the Library Bundle, with a collection of journals and ebooks in a wide range of European languages.
  • ICE Publishing, available through the Library Bundle, is providing access to the ICE Virtual Library, containing journals and ebooks on engineering topics.
  • IWA Publishing has 10 available accounts for editors interested in journals on the topics of water, wastewater, and related environmental fields.
  • ProQuest is accessible through the Library Bundle and is providing access to ProQuest Central, Literature Online, the HNP Chinese Newspaper Collections, and Historical New York Times.
  • Springer Nature joins the Library as part of a one year pilot, with 100 accounts to distribute. Editors can access books and journals from SpringerLink and Nature.

While some of these new partners require applications, all have made their content available via IP-based access!

If you have any questions, please reach out to us at wikipedialibrary(at)wikimedia.org or on Meta.

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