Headed to the Archives Association of Ontario conference this week? Come join Danielle Robichaud and I on Friday April 28th from 2:30-3:15pm in session 6b. We’ll be talking Wikipedia and reconciliation and sharing some of our experiences editing Wikipedia within the context of reconciliation.
I’m really looking forward to this talk and hope to see many Ontario archives folks at AAO this year. If you’re planning to be at AAO but you can’t come to our talk please feel free to say hello during the conference.
[Edited for typo fails]
I’ve written previously about my use of Wikipedia as an outreach tool for the GLAM sector and the possibilities of connecting archives to users through Wikipedia. I’ve also been thinking a lot about using Wikipedia as a form of awareness raising about Indigenous history, marginalized communities, and women. Many people have written about the systemic under representation of women and minorities on Wikipedia. Given that today is International Women’s Day I wanted to talk a bit about women, Wikipedia, and my personal approach to editing.
There are a handful of really great initiatives that encourage focused editing to increase female representation on Wikipedia. For example, the WikiProject Women in Red initiative aims to turn red links (names/topics without Wiki pages) into blue links. The Women In Red initiative focuses on women’s biographies and works by women and hosts theme months where they focus on specific subsets such as women in science, Indigenous women, women in academia etc. The project has some resources for new editors and an ongoing work list if you’re interested in contributing.
My other favourite women’s oriented Wikipedia project is the Art+Feminism initiative. Art+Feminism aims to encourage more women to be engaged in editing and to increase and improve content relating to feminism and the arts. Art+Feminism has a ton of great resources (including a really well done video series) that can be used to introduce new editors to the basics of Wikipedia. The project page also has a lot of advice on hosting an edit-a-thon and for community based organizers. I used a lot of these resources when thinking about organizing the first edit-a-thon on campus in 2016.
Personally, I’ve being trying to be more thoughtful about what pages I create and contribute to. Wikipedia can be a huge rabbit whole and for someone who has a desire to ‘fix all the things’ I can sometimes unintentionally spend hours editing. But my time is finite and I want my edits to be meaningful. I’ve actively being trying to contribute to and create pages that relate to Indigenous communities and more specifically to Indigenous women.
Specifically, I’ve been working on cleaning up the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women page which still needs a substantial amount of work (Read: please contribute!). Similarly, I’ve also being contributing to the Walking With Our Sisters page, and the Aboriginal Healing Foundation page. In terms of biography pages I’ve recently tried to focused my edits on the Indigenous women who have inspired me and who’s academic work has been essential to me rethinking my approaches to scholarship and relationship building. These women matter. They are doing hugely important work that deserves to be acknowledge. Some of the pages I’ve worked on so far have included Christi Belcourt, Shirley Fletcher Horn, Gail Guthrie Valaskakis, Madeline Dion Stout, Eve Tuck and others. I’ve also started to think about how I can contribute to pages related to queer*, trans, non-binary, and 2spirt folks as these are communities which are also vastly underrepresented on Wikipedia.
The #1Lib1Ref (One Librarian, One Reference) initiative is running January 15 – February 3, 2017. The project targets librarians and information professionals and encourages them to engage with Wikipedia by improving citations and adding citations to existing pages. The skills required to add citations draw on a lot of the research and reference skills that librarians excel at and adding a citation is an easy way to start editing Wikipedia.
Earlier this month via Arcan-L Danielle Robichaud reminded the Canadian archival community that archivists have similar skills and resources which can be used to contribute to the #1Lib1Ref initative. Danielle suggested that archivists include citations from:
- reference resources held in your reading room that are not currently available online; [i]
- historical newspapers you have on hand in clippings files, on microfilm/fiche or as part of paid subscriptions;[ii]
- print resources that your organization has digitized and have made available online or through the Internet Archive; [iii]
- digital versions of finding aids, news features or journal articles that pertain to the topic at hand that have not been used elsewhere in the page.
I whole heatedly agree with Danielle and would encourage both librarians and archivists to become involved. I have been working away at contributing citations to Wikipedia pages relating to residential schools, Indigenous activists, and members of the Children of Shingwauk Alumni Association.
New to Wikipedia and unsure where to start? The #1Lib1Ref page has a basic outline of the steps required to add a citation using either the visual editor or source editor in Wikipedia. You can also check out the visual editor guide or the short introduction tutorial. More importantly I would just suggest diving in and trying things out. Citations are a really easy way to improve Wikipedia and the learning curve is relatively easy, even if you have never edited a page before.
On a citation spree and want to get folks at your place of work or a group of information professionals involved? There’s a “Coffee Kit” page that provides guidelines for organizing an event around #1Lib1Ref. There are also lots of other suggestions of other ways to engage your library/archive with the wider Wikipedia community.
For the past few years I’ve reflected on my professional practice and accomplishments at the end of the year. I’m going to continue that tradition with this blog post albeit in a slightly more list based format than the reflective posts I’ve done in the past.
In 2016 I did a lot of things including:
- I had a short article published in Canada’s History Magazine and online on Canada’s History website.
- I wrote about my experience working at the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre for the Off the Record special issue on Archives and Indigenous Issues.
- I also finished and submitted an article I’ve been working for over a year.
- I’ve continued to serve as an editor for Active History. This has allowed me to work with a number of great historians and I also wrote a handful of posts for them this year including:
Talks and Presentations
- In March I spoke as part of a “Finding the Embedded Archivist” panel at the National Council for Public History annual meeting in Baltimore, MD.
- This year I provided instructional programming to over 1,250 people. The bulk of these instruction sessions related to residential schools, the history of the Shingwauk Indian Residential School, and reconciliation. However a handful were also related to teaching about archives and archival literacy.
- As part of this work I’ve taken a serious look at how I present residential school history and revamped my instruction practices to make sure I’m giving priority to Indigenous voices.
- I was appointed as the co-chair of the membership committee for the National Council on Public History
- In August I was appointed to the Steering Committee on Canada’s Archives (SCCA) – Response to the Report on the Truth and Reconciliation Task Force. I am really honoured to be part of this committee and engaged in this important work relating to Indigenous communities and archives.
- I started seriously editing Wikipedia. This was a bit of a rabbit hole for me – it initially started as a way to expand some of the archival outreach I do and evolved into a hobbie and something I really enjoy. I also organized a small edit-a-thon at Algoma University geared toward increasing content relating to Indigenous women on Wikipedia.
- I spearheaded the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre’s contributions to the Archives of Ontario Family Ties: Ontario Turns 150 exhibition.
- I curated and co-curated a number of smaller scale exhibitions on campus including one about local author Brian Vallée, and one focusing on Indigenous Women Activists and the Water Walk movement.
- I setup and have been maintaining social media accounts for the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre. I also learned a bit more about different tools to help schedule and manage this outreach work.
Self-Care and Other Priorities
- I kept with my commitment to make my physical health a priority. I’ve been consistent in going to the gym on a regular basis and have been trying to eat better.
much years of debate my partner and I made a decision to move. We’ve bought and house and will be moving in 2017. This move will mean I’m much closer to my work, it will cut down my commute significantly, and result in me getting to spend more time with my daughter.
- I’ve been meeting regularly as part of two writing groups – an academic one (online) and a non-fiction group. Both of these have been key in keeping me motivated on some ongoing projects.
- In November I was honured to stand beside my sister as during her wedding.
- I’m raising a funny, energy filled 2 year old who can identify Doctor Who on my t-shirts and who loves playing tea time.
At the end of 2016 I am very grateful for great colleagues, a community of public historians who energize and inspire, and challenging conversations. Onward.
For the past number of years I’ve been managing the Activehistory.ca social media accounts, namely Twitter and Facebook. Since the fall I’ve also been managing Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts for my work.
The accounts are somewhat different in nature. The Active History accounts are primarily used to promote new website content, so I don’t have to be overly creative in my posts other than writing captions, pulling quotes, or selecting accompanying images. On the other hand the archives social media accounts are pretty wide open – they can cover ongoing projects, events, draw attention to digitized content, and basically anything else I can think of.
In both cases I’ve found a few different ways to make the process more manageable:
- Schedule content. In the case of Facebook and Tumblr you can pick the time and date of posts and schedule them in advance. I find this a huge help, it lets me put together posts when I have the time and have them appear later on at appropriate intervals. For twitter I tend to use TweetDeck to manage content, and that platform also has a scheduling feature.
- Hashtags are your friends. Hashtags connect new audiences to your content. Andrea Eidinger recently wrote a great summary of hashtags for Canadian historians if you’re interested in learning more.
- Theme days are also your friends. #MinitureMonday, #TinyTuesday, #WordlessWednesday, #InternationalBookDay, #Caturday etc are all easy ways to promote existing content on a regular basis while attaching your organization to a larger social media movement.
- Take photographs of what you’re doing and share them. Photographs of events, new donations, processing, and photographs of all that day-today work GLAM professionals do can be a way to provide a behind the scenes look at your organization and also explain to people what work actually goes on in an archive.
- Start collecting content for future posts. Most GLAM organizations have a lot of existing digitized content that is great for sharing on social media. If you come across interesting photographs, letters, books etc make a reference of them or save a copy for future use on social media. This is an easy way to build up a backlog of ideas that you can pull from for future posts.
- Don’t be afraid to try different things. Experiment with what days and times you post different types of content. Try new hashtags or new approaches to presenting content.
- Use some type of analytics. Many social media platforms come with basic stats built in. But it’s sometimes helpful to add Google Analytics or something similar to the content you’re creating so you can measure how your content is being accessed and used.
As I mentioned earlier the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre (SRSC) is currently hosting ““A Lifetime – Day by Day, Five Women and Their Diaries”the travelling exhibit from the Archives of Ontario and a locally curated companion exhibit “Indigenous Women Rebuilding A Nation.”
As part of the the Indigenous Women Rebuilding A Nation exhibit the SRSC will be hosting an event titled “Rewriting Wikipedia.” On June 20, 2016 this event aims increase the prevalence of content relating to Indigenous women online. The event aims to re-write Wikipedia to include Indigenous women in historical narratives not only as wives, daughters, aunts, and sisters, but also as leaders with their own identities and stories. The event is free of charge, open to all and no experience with Wikipedia is required. Drop-ins welcome. More details are available on the Facebook Event Page and in the Press Release.
As you might have noticed I’ve been writing a fair bit about Wikipedia recently. Since January I’ve been slowly becoming more engaged with the Wikipedia community and have been inspired by the range of possibilities that are available for the GLAM sector on the platform. The idea to hold a Wikipedia edit-a-thon and get the local university community engaged with Wikipedia came from watching the great work of Danielle Robichaud and the Archives Association of Ontario had at their last Wikipedia event.
The idea was also partially motivated by the profound realization that Indigenous Women are greatly underrepresented on Wikipedia. Indigenous Women fall in the intersection of two underrepresented groups on Wikipedia and the SRSC holds numerous archival holdings that relate to Indigenous women and their work. I also owe a lot of thanks to the wonderful SRSC Student Assistant Skylee-Storm Hogan who’s enthusiasm and connections to the student population have been key in getting this idea going. I’m fortunate to work so many inspiring and talented Indigenous women on a daily basis.
My most recent post “Digital Outreach and Wikipedia in the GLAM Sector” can be seen over on Activehistory.ca. This post looks at why Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM) might engage in Wikipedia editing and different possibilities for GLAM organizations interested in editing Wikipedia as a form of outreach.