Leading cultural institutions across the Indianapolis area are excited to announce the creation of the new Central Indiana Wikipedia Partnership. The Partnership fosters collaboration among members to improve representation of Indiana’s heritage on Wikipedia. With generous funding from the Central Indiana Community Foundation’s (CICF) Library Fund provided to University Library as a founding partner, the Partnership’s main aim will be to increase the capacity of central Indiana institutions to engage with Wikipedia by working together on programs such as staff training, contributing digital collections images to Wikimedia Commons, holding public editing events, and more. In the coming months, the team will work to build this partnership and we invite any institutions interested in partnering to get in touch.
The Library’s role in this partnership aligns with its ongoing dedication to serving Indiana communities as a representative of a university that has done just that for more than one hundred years. “There are so many reasons to love this project,” observed Kristi Palmer, Herbert Simon Family Dean of University Library. “The CICF Library Fund has long supported the digitization of historic collections from Indianapolis cultural heritage organizations and now those vast collections are being reused, applied, woven into articles about Indiana and beyond. Through democratization of information creation engrained in Wikipedia and this project, we witness what all urban universities strive for, a deep and purposeful intersection between campus and community, with each learning from and with the other. I’m thankful the CICF Library Fund recognizes and lifts up the multi-dimensional benefits of library-driven projects like this one.”
This effort has involved many stakeholders and is indebted to the groundwork laid by several ongoing initiatives. First, the Indiana Memory project, administered by the Indiana State Library, hosts and aggregates digital collections from across the state of Indiana. Second, the Digital Public Library of America, for which Indiana Memory is a service hub, has developed technology that Indiana Memory has utilized since 2020 to allow participating eligible institutions to provide their digital collections images to Wikipedia. And finally, IUPUI University Library, as one of Indiana Memory’s most prominent contributors, with a network of community digitization partners, has for the last year carried out an initial CICF grant project that conducted initial outreach to partners and also led to the formation of a Wikimedia Foundation local affiliate, Wikimedians of Indiana.
Current members of the Partnership value these collaborations and see a lot of promise for the future. Justin Clark, Digital Initiatives Director of the Indiana State Library, applauds this program, saying, “Integrating Indiana Memory with the Central Indiana Wikipedia Partnership has helped new and wider audiences to see our rich, diverse digital collections. We look forward to growing this partnership and expanding what we provide to researchers.”
Since this work began in 2020, our efforts have resulted in 262,924 public domain digital collections images from 16 Indiana institutions being uploaded to Wikimedia Commons (Wikipedia’s sister project for openly licensed media). This contribution constitutes over 250 gigabytes of digitized Indiana heritage. And we are already seeing impressive dividends from this work, as just this month, we recorded our 10 millionth page view of the images shared on Wikimedia projects, making it one of the most visible platforms for public access to Indiana’s digitized cultural heritage. We held several public events in the first year with partners, including IUPUI, Newfields, the National Agricultural Library, and IU Bloomington. We have led staff trainings at several institutions, including the Indianapolis Public Library, Indiana State Library, Conner Prairie, Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, and Wabash College. We started a regular monthly Wikipedia skills-building meeting at IUPUI and online for virtual attendance. At one student event, more than 30 undergrads created Wikipedia accounts and made their first Wikipedia edits in a single day. Another event about Indianapolis food deserts hosted by the Ruth Lilly Law Library produced multiple new articles that were subsequently featured on Wikipedia’s main page (“Indianapolis Community Food Access Coalition” and “Gleaners Food Bank”). In one case, a participant from IUPUI wrote an article on an Indianapolis artist using a photo provided by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis at an event organized by Newfields. We love these stories of cross-institutional collaborations, and it demonstrates the potential of this new partnership.
"The Central Indiana Wikimedia Partnership is an excellent example of how libraries and museums can share important stories about their communities," said John Bracken, Executive Director of the Digital Public Library of America. "We are thrilled to partner with them on this effort to increase their impact and reach."
The work we are doing with Wikipedia is improving access to Indiana's cultural heritage, increasing staff and the community’s digital literacy, and adding to the sum of public knowledge about Indiana topics. We invite anyone interested in partnering with us—whether you are affiliated with a cultural or academic institution, or just want to get involved in Wikipedia yourself—to get in touch with us.