What we learned from 1Lib1Ref 2019

Originally published at: https://space.wmflabs.org/2019/10/29/what-we-learned-from-1lib1ref-2019/

Giselle Bordoy (WMAR) CC BY-SA 4.0

Each year people from around the world join the #1Lib1Ref initiative to make small but meaningful contributions to Wikipedia.

The Wikipedia community has developed a core strategy to ensure the quality of information in its articles: including footnotes to reliable sources to allow readers to “verify” the information. The 1Lib1Ref campaign calls on contributors to add just one footnote to help improve the verifiability of Wikipedia. In addition, this campaign introduces new editors to the projects via a simple entry point.

The 2019 1Lib1Ref campaigns in January and May were founded on a series of learning interviews and community engagement efforts. This strategy was not only to include experienced organizers and supporters in some decision-making structures but to genuinely listen to their concerns, as well as ensure inclusive input towards running the campaign. These approaches to listening and improving the campaign around community input yielded some great stories, some of which are highlighted below.

During the pre-conference days of Wikimania 2018, Felix Nartey organised a training session for librarians in South Africa dubbed “Wikipedia 101”. This commenced a relationship with a librarian from the University of Cape Town by the name of Ingrid Thompson, who would later lead 1Lib1Ref activities in several libraries and institutions during both the January and May campaigns. Her activities directly churned 10-plus events and at least two webinars. She also led conversations with African librarian networks. 

User:Darafsh had just become a coordinator of the Farsi Wikipedia Library Branch and was really passionate about increasing the activity level of the branch. He saw 1Lib1Ref as a key opportunity to engage the community and some librarians. The campaign saw very high participation from the Farsi community and placed their campaign second amongst the languages represented. 

Krishna has been a long-time Wikipedia Library coordinator and 1Lib1Ref organiser. He led activities in both the January and May campaigns for the Asian continent. He engaged at least three new countries, with more than seven events. His zeal to support the 1Lib1Ref initiative has been enormous and employing a new way to solve some of the generally accepted gaps was an insightful way of addressing movement needs.

During the May campaign AfroCrowd provided support towards reaching out to the Carribean, a region that had seen very little or no Wikimedia interventions. With help from the 1Lib1Ref team from Argentina and the alliance with AfroCrowd we started a campaign with the sole goal to just create awareness of the campaign in the region. Our efforts yielded some connections in Belize, an opportunity still in the works to train librarians from the country. We are looking at enhancing the efforts in the region for subsequent campaigns and possibly using 1Lib1Ref to onboard new communities and participants.

The Argentina 1Lib1Ref team led by Giselle has been doing an awesome job since the launch of the May campaign in 2018. This year she led more than 10 Latin American countries to participate in the campaign. The most intriguing part of what she does is the high-level support she provides to the Latin American communities, especially around the creation of documentation and communication strategies for the region.   

The 2019 campaign will not be complete without speaking about the enthusiasm and competition from the librarians in Canada led by Leah. There was a significant expansion of the 2018 Canadian competition: the 2019 edition was a pan-Canadian event. This resulted in significant edits to both English and French Wikipedia. This activity put the Canadians and the French Wikipedia ahead of all other Wikipedias during the January campaign.

The campaign for the first time saw the French-language Wikipedia leading the contest and new entrants such as the Farsi Wikipedia taking a second spot during the May campaign. There was also a significant increase in participation from Africa and Asia. The Latin American community maintained a steady growth from last year.

These results underline the need to engage our communities with opportunities that allow them to ride on social activities or campaigns to engage or even serve as a reminder of their interest or commitment to volunteer. This is evident in similar campaigns such as Wiki Loves Monuments (WLM), Art & Feminism, etc. and other campaigns or points of engagement will only increase our activity levels both online and offline. We also need to begin to think of a bridge to ensure new editors are sustained within our movement or even a means to engage them yearly on the projects of their interest as not everyone may necessarily be an everyday Wikimedian.

#1Lib1Ref will resume again in January (Jan 15 – Feb 5) and May (May 15 to June 5) of 2020 and each year on the same dates, let’s all join in to make Wikipedia better a reference at a time. Visit 1lib1ref.org or 1bib1ref.org for more information about the campaign.

Read more from the full report on Medium.

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