The coming of the internet has, at least for those who are adequately connected, allowed billions of people to enjoy an extraordinary increase in the volume of information available to them.
This represents major progress towards libraries’ goal of guaranteeing meaningful access to information to all, but it is far from being the same thing as achieving this goal fully.
For one, there are still billions of people who have no access to the internet at all. Furthermore, those counted in the statistics as being online often only have slow or limited connections, and only have access to a restricted range of content in their own language, or covering the issues that matter for them.
Crucially, quantity and quality of information are also not the same thing. There is a big difference between a random claim, and an assertion backed up by references to other works which can be checked, controlled, and shown to be accurate and reliable.
While library users – especially those affiliated with national or academic libraries – may have possibilities to access high quality research collections, this may not always be easy as it should be.
Copyright laws may mean that it is only possible to consult works in person (something that may of course also be impossible, for reasons of COVID or disability for example), or simply local libraries may not have the resources for a major collection. Paywalled information sources are, by definition, only available to those people and institutions with the resources to pay.
The easiest option is therefore just to turn to the internet.
This is why, in order to achieve libraries’ mission of meaningful access to information, it is so important that people can benefit from a free and reliable – verifiable – source of information online. This is what Wikipedia seeks to provide.
Crucially, Wikipedia does not replace the work of libraries, but rather complements it. And in turn, librarians, libraries and their collections can have a key role in turn in delivering on Wikipedia’s potential as a comprehensive, accessible, and verifiable source of information.
This is what #1Lib1Ref is all about, with its call on librarians around the world to add just one reference to a Wikipedia article, in order to improve its verifiability!
#1Lib1Ref is taking place for the 7th year on 15 January – 5 February, and then again on 15 May – 5 June, with the first period coinciding with Wikipedia’s 21st birthday.
The Wikimedia Library, which organises the event, sets out some great ways to get involved, with translations in 46 different languages! Take a look at the blog they have prepared for more.
Key opportunities involve:
- Add a reference: look at the instructions on how to find an article that requires citations or improved sources, including using the CitationHunt tool which is now available in 7 more languages!
- Create a new article: for example, in order to help diversify the information available on Wikipedia, to celebrate unique people or things covered in your collections, or to share your expertise – find out more here
- Organise an event so that others can add references with you!: take a look at the guidance on how to set something up (it doesn’t just need to be during the period of #1Lib1Ref!)
- Create WikiData items for works on WikiSource: help strengthen Wikipedia by creating WikiData items for works already mentioned in your local WikiSource
- Share!: as part of the guidance for adding a reference, there are instructions on how highlight that it is a #1Lib1Ref edit. If you are organising an event, you can register it on the Wikimedia platform (you’ll need to create an account first). And of course, just use the hashtag #1Lib1Ref to talk about your participation on social media!