Author Archives: sarahstierch

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum announces first Wikipedian in Residence

Graduate student and Wikipedian Michael Barera became the first Wikipedian in Residence at a U.S. presidential library last week. Barera, who attends the University of Michigan’s School of Information, is serving as resident at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum, which is located on the University’s Ann Arbor campus.


This fresh partnership is a wonderful example of how outreach and education about Wikimedia projects can be key components at fostering opportunities such as this. Barera, who has been editing Wikipedia articles and uploading photographs to Wikimedia Commons for over five years, joined the Michigan Wikipedians, a student club on campus, and the first of its kind in the United States. Through the club, Berera attended a seminar held by the Wikipedia Education Program in the Fall of 2012. The seminar educated attendees about the opportunities for using Wikipedia in the classroom as a learning tool, and showcased partnerships being held around the country.

Little did Berera realize that the woman who would spearhead the development of his future residency was also in the audience: Bettina Couisneau, Exhibit Specialist at the Ford Library & Museum.

Berera and Couisneau connected at the seminar, and Barera started volunteering at the Ford, using his skill set to categorize images that the Ford had uploaded to Commons, which totals over 11,000 images to date. Berera also created WikiProject Gerald Ford, a project that brings together Wikipedians from around the world to edit content about the 38th president of the United States. The opportunity for a more formal partnership was clear – Berera would be the natural choice for a Wikipedian in Residence at the Ford.

“This position is perfect for me,” says Barera, “It combines my academic passion for history, archives, open source advocacy, and technology. I see my role as a facilitator, helping to bridge the gap between those who have the content and those who have the technical skills to make that information accessible to the whole world.” Barera will do just that – serve as a liaison between the international e-volunteer community of Wikimedia and the collections and staff at the Ford. By working with both parties, Wikipedians will gain more access to collections to improve Wikipedia and its sister proejcts, and staff will gain further awareness and knowledge about how Wikipedia works, and how to better work with it and it’s community.

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum

With a collection that comprises almost exclusively of openly licensed content – federally created public domain materials – the Fords’ collection and resources are a perfect match for Wikimedia projects, which require freely licensed contributions. “With these core similarities, I believe that this collaboration can be rewarding for both parties, as well as the Fords’ visitors, Wikipedia’s readers, and the general public,” says Barera.

By improving coverage about President Ford on Wikipedia and related projects, and by educating staff about open sharing, the Ford will be able to expand on it’s mission to provide the public increased access to their collections and resources. “Our goal is to have our content accessible to everyone, everywhere,” says Couisneau, “Wikipedia is a new outreach venue for us. Not everyone can visit our museum and library in person, but everyone can visit us online.” And with the skill set of Barera, and the advocacy of Couisneau, the Ford will be able to provide online access to their collection via the world’s 5th most popular website, Wikipedia.

Elaine Didier, Director of the Ford, hopes that Couisneau – who went from Wikipedia reader to Wikipedian during the course of developing the residency project –  will inspire others to get involved:  “I hope that this partnership also inspires more people like her to join with us, become Wikipedians, and help broaden our perspectives and our horizons to inch us ever closer to our goal of collecting ‘the sum of all human knowledge’.”

Posted in Wikipedian in Residence

Launching US OpenGLAM


Sarah Stierch, US OpenGLAM Coordinator (Photo: Matthew Roth, CC-BY-SA 3.0)

This blog post originally appeared on the OpenGLAM blog.

The new year brings a new role to OpenGLAM and the Open Knowledge Foundation: the launch of US OpenGLAM.

I am pleased to take on the role as US OpenGLAM Coordinator. This position brings me into the Open Knowledge Foundation family, where I’ll be working within the OpenGLAM umbrella.

As a museumist, Wikimedian, and open culture advocate, I have taken deep interest in developing programs and procedures for opening up cultural institutions in the United States.

As Wikipedian in Residence at the Smithsonian Institution Archives and the Archives of American Art, I was able to provide more open access to cultural materials and deeper partnerships with the open culture movement through GLAM-Wiki, an international movement to develop partnerships between cultural institutions and Wikimedia projects, like Wikipedia.

After attending OKFestival 2012 in Helsinki, and attending and participating in a series of OpenGLAM meetings at the conference, we came to a realization: the United States needed an organizational structure and dedicated guidance to provide education, policy development, and encouragement for galleries, libraries, archives and museums who express, or have yet to express, interest in opening up their materials, data, and environments in the spirit of open culture and licensing.

So far, that guidance has been provided by leaders such as Lori Byrd Phillips, who served as the Wikimedia Foundation‘s US GLAM Coordinator for 2012. Phillips provided general structure and leadership focusing around the organization of GLAM-Wiki projects in the US. Her leadership was integral in bringing further awareness to OpenGLAM opportunities. This opportunity will allow the Open Knowledge Foundation’s OpenGLAM initiative build upon that awareness by supporting and educating GLAM professionals and volunteers about the opportunities awaiting them regarding open culture data.

As US OpenGLAM Coordinator, I will be working with GLAMs in the US to educate and inspire them to open their cultural holdings in a broader, open-license manner through in-person engagement, online education, social media, case studies, and policy development.

I look forward to working with the OpenGLAM team at OKFN and sharing my passion for open culture with all of you.


Posted in Open GLAM | Tagged , ,

The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, leads at becoming “of the Wikipedia”

When Seb Chan left the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, Australia, to become the Director of Digital and Emerging Media at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in New York, the US GLAM-Wiki crew started to get antsy in anticipation. We were familiar with the work that he had been involved in at the Powerhouse – opening up the Powerhouse API, sharing content under open licenses, and other projects to expand the sharing of Australian heritage. Suffice to say, we’ve had high hopes.

Within a month of Seb’s new gig, the Cooper-Hewitt started a new blog, Cooper-Hewitt Labs, where the Digital & Emerging Media department shares projects. Within two months, the museum released its metadata under Creative Commons Zero; the first Smithsonian museum to do so, and possibly the first in the United States. A few months later, less than a year after Seb became Director, the Cooper-Hewitt’s alpha-version collection database now links out to Wikipedia and pulls Look ma, Wikipedia!Wikipedia content into the collection entry.

For example, you can check out all of the people (artists, designers, etc.) that are in the Cooper-Hewitt’s collection who have a Wikipedia article about them here.  When that Wikipedia content is improved, it’s updated on the Cooper-Hewitt’s collection page as soon as the team at Cooper-Hewitt Labs runs a bot (which they intend to run on a weekly basis.)

That’s right. In less than one year the Cooper-Hewitt has improved transparency, released a jackpot of metadata for the world to use with no-strings-attached, and has shown that they trust Wikipedia so much that they are willing to link out and pull in content from the world’s largest free encyclopedia.

We hope you find inspiration in this as well, just as the team at the Cooper-Hewitt found inspiration in the work and life of director Bill Moggridge and came to a realization that delightfully encompasses the way open data sharing should be moving:

We need to not just be ‘on the web’ but we need to be ‘of the web,’

…a very zen-like way to also embrace being “of the Wikipedia,” as well. And to those of you at the Lab—thank you for trusting us.

Posted in Metadata | Tagged ,