Our Wikimedian in Residence Sara Thomas gives us a whirlwind update in this week's SLIC blog, giving us the highlights of her first few months with the Scottish Library and Information Council.


We’re coming up on the end of the fourth month of my residency with SLIC, and it’s already been a busy one.  I’ve delivered four presentations; three training sessions and one editathon, with more already in the diary. 

In the last month I’ve been in Inverclyde, North Lanarkshire and North Ayrshire, collecting new library cards for my collection (I guess I’d better hurry up with that…) and speaking to librarians, learning officers and folk from Heritage, Museums & Culture collections about the seriously addictive activity that is editing Wikipedia




By the end of January 2018, they will hopefully have run their first Wikipedia editing event. And at the end of January we’ll evaluate, and roll out the programme to other services in Scotland. 


I’m excited about what we might be able to achieve, and the kind of work that we could do with Scotland’s public library collections. I’m taking a lot of inspiration from the excellent work that’s been done with Catalonia’s public libraries.

Getting Information onto Wikipedia Increases Visibility

At the beginning of the residency, we teamed up with Dig It! 2017 to run an editathon on Scotland’s “Hidden Gems” – celebrating our lesser-known history, heritage and archaeology sites.  One of the new articles created during the course of that event was for the Govan Stones.  At the time of writing this blog, the article has now had just over 1000 views since it was created on the 6th October. 

Myself and the creator of that article, Ewan McAndrew (my fellow Wikimedian in Residence, who works at the University of Edinburgh) presented a session at Historic Environment Scotland / Archaeology Scotland’s Community Heritage Conference on the 10th November, in what was an unashamed recruitment drive for more folk involved in Community Heritage to engage with Wikimedia projects.  As the Govan Stones article’s numbers show, using Wikipedia to surface information about under-represented topics really does help with visibility.

Wikipedia is an Open Education Resource

At the ScotGov-sponsored Digital & Information Literacy Forum on 17th November, I delivered a session on Wikipedia & Information Literacy, making the case for writing Wikipedia articles as a tool for teaching information literacy. 

If you’re still of the opinion that students shouldn’t use Wikipedia, email me

I’d be more than happy to tell you about some of the excellent work that’s being done with Wikimedia projects in educational institutions, teaching students about the use of databases, source evaluation, and information synthesis.


Open Knowledge is Important

At these training sessions, and during all my speaking engagements, I’ve been talking about why open knowledge, and open education, are important.

Here's my two line summary: 


open knowledge gives people access to better information. 
Access to better information makes us more able to make more informed decisions, and the ability to make informed decisions gives us a better society. 


To me, that’s something that Scotland’s public libraries could not be more well placed to deliver.


What I'm Currently Reading....

Bassel Khartabil – Open knowledge activist, put to death by the Syrian regime in 2015. An inspiration, and a reminder that the culture of Open really is a matter of life and death for some.

The Edinburgh Seven – It was recently the anniversary of the Surgeon’s Hall Riot (1870), when a crowd of several hundred gathered to try and prevent the University of Edinburgh’s first female medical students from taking an exam.