University of Minnesota librarians take on Wikipedia edits

The librarians are helping University faculty edit pages in their areas of expertise.

by Jordan Willauer

University of Minnesota librarians are helping edit, add and update Wikipedia pages. 

Kristen Mastel, a University librarian at Magrath Library, has been helping University faculty enhance Wikipedia pages in their areas of expertise. Mastel has been working with Extension, a University outreach group that disseminates University research across the state and beyond. 

Mastel and Extension gathered in late August for a pilot session to edit and add to Wikipedia pages. Following the editing session, members of Extension said they anticipate more work will be done in the coming months as they lay out a plan for future Wikipedia editing. 

“We were trying to get some of [Extension’s] educational materials out there by enhancing Wikipedia pages,”  Mastel said, whose job during the event was to provide technical support and training on how to edit and archive information.

“[Mastel] asked us to think about our context areas,” said Ellie McCann, an Extension educator in family resiliency.  McCann said she found that there was very little information on the Wikipedia page about co-parenting and knew that it would be a place where she could add content.

“To really think about our content expertise and to be able to put it in a new place online that’s accessible, way beyond our Extension website, is really exciting,” said McCann.

Extension faculty are planning how to continue doing work to the website. During the pilot editing session, the group noticed that little information was available on financial recovery during disaster recovery and wanted to add information to the page.  

The editing session was not the first time University librarians have worked with Wikipedia. 

Art + Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thon was a day-long event that served as an opportunity to give people a space and opportunity to tell their own stories on Wikipedia, said Wanda Marsolek, a University librarian. 

The goal of the edit-a-thon was to improve Wikipedia coverage of cis and transgender women, art and feminism. 

“I know it’s mentioned over and over that you can’t write a paper using Wikipedia, but that’s not to say you can’t go learn about the topic on Wikipedia and look at Wikipedia’s references listed and go from there,” Marsolek said.