From the Archives: What is a Wikipedian in Residence?

This summer, I am working as the University of Puget Sound’s Archives & Special Collections Wikipedian in Residence. Now, you might be wondering, what is a Wikipedian in Residence? What do they do? I thought Wikipedia could be written by anybody, why do you get a fancy title?

I too wondered these things when I first heard about the Wikipedian in Residence Summer Fellowship, and really only started to understand all that it entails over the last few days, so you are not alone in your confusion!

What is a Wikipedian in Residence?  What do they do?

In the words of Wikipedia, a Wikipedian in residence “is not simply an in-house editor: the role is fundamentally about enabling the host organization and its members to continue a productive relationship with the encyclopedia and its community after the Residency is finished.”  Essentially, I will be going through our Archives & Special Collections to identify ways in which our holdings here at the library can be made accessible through Wikipedia. I will be editing existing articles and adding links to articles that will take a Wikipedia reader directly to the collection or piece connected to that article. I also hope to write new articles for material we have in our Archives & Special Collections that haven’t yet been covered in a Wikipedia article.

Why the title?

It is true that anyone can edit and write for Wikipedia. The key difference between what I will be doing and any other Wikipedia user is that I work in connection with an institution in order to share our resources with the world via Wikipedia. In the Wikipedia world, the institutions that hire Wikipedians in Residence are encompassed by the acronym GLAM- Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums. Since I work with (and for) a GLAM institution, I get the fancy title J

A little preview. . . 

To give you a better idea of the kind of work I will be doing, here is an example.

Richard Knolles (1545-1610) was an English historian who wrote the first British history of the Turks written in English. We happen to have a few different editions of his text, The Turkish History, From the Original of that Nation, to the Growth of the Ottoman Empire, with the Lives and Conquests of Their Princes and Emperor in Special Collections.


Title page from the 6th edition (1687)


Also from the 6th edition (Amurath is my favorite- look at that mustache!)

Sadly, Richard has only a very short description in Wikipedia. I hope to expand upon his entry and add a link to our copy of the text so that when someone doing initial research on Richard is skimming Wikipedia, they will be able to link directly to our Archives & Special Collections and find a physical copy of the text.

P.S.  If you are interested in seeing Knolles’ history of the Turks, there are two volumes on display in the “Stan!” exhibit at Collins Memorial Library through May 31st!

By: Kara E. Flynn ‘15

This entry was posted in From the Archives. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *