Thursday, 29 January 2015

ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM GLAM-WIKI INITIATIVE

RESEARCH COLUMN

BY: MOLLY McGOWAN

In the summer of 2013, I started interning at the Royal Ontario Museum. During this time, I began to work on a project, which strives to connect curatorial information that exists in the ROM to the outside world through the use of Wikipedia. This project, which depends on our e-volunteers, is called the Royal Ontario Museum GLAM-Wiki Initiative or simply by Wikipedia: GLAM/ROM. Currently, the project is supervised by the ROM’s Social Media Coordinator, Ryan Dodge and is overseen by me.

Screenshot of the GLAM-Wiki Logo.

Right now you are probably wondering what “GLAM” means. It’s an acronym for “galleries, libraries, archives, and museums” (also including botanic and zoological gardens) with Wikipedia projects. The GLAM Wiki initiatives are formed to help cultural institutions share their resources with the world through collaborative endeavors to produce open-access, freely reusable content for the public. More in depth information can be found here. The GLAM projects were largely made popular when the British Museum hosted their first ever Wikipedian in Residence (a Wikipedia editor who accepts a placement within an institution), Liam Wyatt, in June 2010. Wyatt started their amazing Wiki-GLAM page.

When Ryan first assigned me to be the project’s coordinator, I had never written or edited anything on Wikipedia. However, after I completed a few tutorials on Wikipedia, read articles on how to properly contribute to the site, and took a free six week class through Peer 2 Peer University, called Writing Wikipedia Articles: the Basics and Beyond, I was set to start contributing to Wikipedia. Although, this can be an intimating experience at first, most of my fellow Wikipedians understand that new users make mistakes and most are more than willing to provide helpful tips on how to improve your skills.

Screenshot of the ROM's GLAM-Wiki Page.

Towards end of the summer, I had completely revamped our GLAM-Wiki page to make it more user-friendly and was planning our first ever ROM E-Volunteer Edit-a-thon with Ryan. Since the ROM’s GLAM project depends solely on virtual volunteers to create and improve ROM related articles, Ryan and I wanted to host an event, which allowed our e-volunteers to meet and, most importantly, taught newer individuals to write proper Wikipedia articles.

ROM Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. Photo Credit Ryan Dodge.

Our edit-a-thon that focused on the ROM’s Chinese Galleries, was a great success! It had an introduction to Wikipedia, which was given by me, a tour of Chinese Galleries, a research preparation session, a short lunch, and an article writing/editing period. We even had an experienced Wikipedian join us for the later part of the afternoon to assist with writing. While some volunteers gained valuable practice adding/editing content on Wikipedia, a few of our volunteers produced great articles such as this on Wei Bin’s Temple Bell .

The Toronto Star even wrote an article about our event, which can be found here.

If this endeavor sounds interesting to you, I highly encourage you to become an e-volunteer! More information can be found on the ROM’s website or on our GLAM page. My Wikipedia username is MJMcGowan. Feel free to leave any volunteering questions on my user talk page or ask me in person if you see me around campus.

Editor's Note: Molly McGowan is a third year CRO student, completing an MMSt and MI in Archives. She graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia with a Bachelors of Fine Art in Art History and a Minor in Museum Studies. If you are a Museum Studies student engaged in research for a work, volunteer, or school project that you would like to share, please contact Robin Nelson.

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