The Corning Museum Of Glass is a special place where librarians, curators, artists, and educators all work together to share the history and craft of glass making. Rebecca Hopman’s series on her work at the CMOG’s Rakow Research Library is an excellent template for creating and sustaining the library-as-incubator. Enjoy! ~Erinn

The library-museum connection: Editing Wikipedia with teens

by Rebecca Hopman

What do you get when you mix teenagers with contemporary art, Wikipedia, and free pizza? We recently found out by hosting the first-ever teen Wikipedia edit-a-thon at the museum.

On November 11th, we invited local teens to come explore our new contemporary art wing, research artists represented in the galleries, and edit Wikipedia articles about those artists (and, naturally, eat lots of pizza). There are major gaps in contemporary glass art coverage on Wikipedia, especially when it comes to notable artists working in glass. We want to start closing that gap by using the resources available at the library and the museum.

There are major gaps in contemporary glass art coverage on Wikipedia…We want to start closing that gap by using the resources available at the library and the museum.

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A gallery in the new Contemporary Art + Design Wing at The Corning Museum of Glass.

In preparation for the edit-a-thon, we put together a list of 32 artists whose Wikipedia articles needed improvement. Nine of the artists didn’t have an article on the site at all. All of these artists are represented in our museum collection, so the teens had a chance to see their artwork in person – something we thought would get them excited about editing their Wikipedia articles. At a normal edit-a-thon, there might be one experienced editor for every six to eight participants; we planned to have one adult editor for every two teens. We also partnered with Kayla Crane, a children’s specialist at the Southeast Steuben County Library, who runs a Teen Tech Club and brought her teen-wrangling skills to the table (shout-out to Erica Unterman of SSCL, who also helped us during the planning stages).

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Our teen editors, working hard on their articles.

14 teens registered for the event, none of whom had ever edited Wikipedia before. This was both exciting and challenging – working with a group of (mostly) 13-year-olds to write encyclopedic content is no easy task. Not only would they have to write the text, they’d also have to learn how to navigate the back end of Wikipedia. We planned to keep the tutorials to a minimum and provide everyone with cheat sheets.

We planned to keep the tutorials to a minimum and provide everyone with cheat sheets.

The day of the edit-a-thon arrived, and after the all-important pizza lunch the teens looked through library books and chose artists to work on. Armed with tablets, smartphones, and a list of names, they set off to explore the contemporary galleries. Once they found and photographed their artists’ works, they came back to the event room to research. Each teen had at least one artist whose article needed major edits or needed to be created from scratch. The teens caught on to editing pretty quickly, but required more help with research and writing.

At the end of the event, we tallied up our contributions: the teens edited 13 existing articles and created drafts for four new articles. Success! Even better? The teens left excited to edit Wikipedia again. Kayla and I hope to start a monthly editors’ club at the public library, and I think we’ll see some familiar faces at our first meeting.

Want More?

To learn more about how your library, museum, or archives can contribute to Wikipedia, check out the GLAM-Wiki initiative and this “How to run an edit-a-thon” page.

 

profilepic_hopmanRebecca Hopman is the Outreach Librarian at The Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass. She has worked in a number of libraries and archives since 2005 and received her MLS from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2012. When she’s not at the library, you might find her embroidering, writing snail mail, or cheering on the Chicago Cubs. Follow her on tumblrextabulis.tumblr.com.

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