Where are the blog posts?

I wanted to post a quick note about where I’m doing most of my blogging these days. I currently manage and coordinate my library’s social media content, including our blog posts. My posts on the blog are mostly about library collections, acquisitions, and events.

This past January, Library as Incubator Project co-founders Laura Damon-Moore and Erinn Paige were nice enough to ask me to write a series of posts about my library as an arts incubator. This series is currently ongoing, with a focus on the benefits of a library-museum connection.

Look for more posts in both places, and the occasional post here as well!

#ColorOurCollections Week 2016

Last week the New York Academy of Medicine’s Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health invited libraries, archives, and museums to participate in #ColorOurCollections week, or, as they described it, “a week-long special collections coloring fest.”

We have a collection of cut glass pattern patents that make for perfect coloring pages! They remind me of the complicated designs popping up in adult coloring books.

We have a collection of cut glass pattern patents that make for perfect coloring pages. They remind me of the complicated designs popping up in adult coloring books.

My library has a wealth of materials that make for excellent coloring pages, so I jumped at the chance to participate. Thanks to a flood of suggestions from my colleagues, I put together a Pinterest board and a series of tweets sharing design drawings, stained glass cartoons, cut glass pattern patents, woodcuts, engravings, and more.

I've been adding new images to this board almost every day, plus glass-themed coloring book suggestions.

I’ve been adding new images and glass-themed coloring books to this board daily.

I also decided to share the fun with the library and museum staff – after all, who doesn’t like a little stress-free coloring time? I photocopied pages from a few stained glass pattern books and put them in each library staff member’s mailbox, then put more patterns and a bunch of colored pencils in our break room. People have pinned their finished pages to a bulletin board in the break room, and I’ve had many smiling librarians stop by my desk to say how excited they were to find coloring pages in their mailboxes.

Because the full museum staff is pretty large, I didn’t have the time or resources to send all of them coloring pages and colored pencils. Instead, I posted a link to the Pinterest board on our intranet and invited them to take a coloring break. Maybe next year I can convince the museum’s wellness team to make coloring an official wellness activity! I did have a member of our tourism team ask about sharing coloring pages with local hotels and their guests, which was pretty exciting. We’re working with our rights & reproductions team now to see what we can do.

This tweet was unstoppable - it's become the museum's third most popular tweet of all time!

This tweet was unstoppable – it’s the museum’s third most popular tweet of all time!

The response to our posts was great – we got an overwhelming number of likes, retweets, and comments on Twitter, a slew of new followers on Pinterest, and a few photos of colored-in pages from followers. I’m pretty confident in saying it’s one of our most successful library social media campaigns ever.

@KrynSyn colored a Frederick Wilson design drawing.

@KrynSyn colored a Frederick Wilson design drawing.

NYAM reported that over 215 libraries and cultural institutions from around the world participated in #ColorOurCollections (find the full list plus links here). They’ve proposed to make it an annual event each February, and I for one plan to participate!

15 ways to contribute to Wikipedia

By Outstandy (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Outstandy [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Happy birthday, Wikipedia! The project turns 15 today. I’m an active Wikipedian, and I encourage all gallery, library, archives, and museum professionals to join me in editing this free online encyclopedia.

If you’re asking “Why should we edit Wikipedia?” here are a few reasons. If you’re shouting “Wikipedia is evil!!!!” stop that! If you’d like to learn more about Wikipedia and how to get started, check out this beginner’s guide for information professionals. And if you want a few ideas of what to do on Wikipedia, read the rest of this post.

1. Edit an article

Does your library/archives have a special focus or a lot of resources on a particular topic? Perhaps you have the world’s largest toothpick holder research collection? Find a related Wikipedia article and use those sources to improve that article. No special collections? No problem – just pick a topic you’re interested in and find a few materials in your collection that can serve as references. If you’re new to Wikipedia, you’ll probably want to check out a beginner’s guide and learn about conflict of interest before jumping in.

2. Write a new article

So you do have a special collection or topic you want to work on, but there’s no Wikipedia article? Don’t panic, because you can write that article! Make sure your topic meets Wikipedia’s notability guidelines, gather together five or more high-quality sources, and get started.

3. Expand a bibliography, further reading section, or external links section

Wikipedia is a great place for quick answers and getting started on your research. But what about those people who want to dig deeper? The sections at the end of a Wikipedia article, including Bibliography, Further Reading, and External Links, are meant to point users towards more sources. Add major books, articles, and other sources to an article to help users continue their research.

4. Link relevant content from your site to an article

Many of us have online finding aids, research guides, or digital exhibits related to a Wikipedia article. Go ahead and add those links to the External Links section of that article. Just remember, Wikipedia is not a collection of links to your website. Be selective, and make sure the links you include lead readers to additional relevant content. You might try adding links from other libraries and archives as well – if you know another library with a top-notch toothpick holder research collection, why not add it too?

5. Check references

Every Wikipedia article should include a list of references to verify its text. Make sure those references are complete and correctly formatted. Here’s a guide to get you started.

6. Add high-quality citations

You may need to sit down before reading the next sentence. Over 320,000 articles on the English Wikipedia are tagged as needing citations, and 230,000 articles have no sources at all. Do you have a source that you can use to add or cite information in one of these articles? Add it!

7. Add media to Wikimedia Commons

Okay, so technically this one is a Wikimedia Commons task. But lots of the media uploaded to Wikimedia Commons ends up on Wikipedia. You can do that too! (see #8) Does your collection include materials in the public domain? Upload those images, videos, pdfs, and audio files so everyone can use them. Bonus: by including a link back to the item on your website, you’ll give people a chance to explore your collections.

Side note: Do you like to take photos and want to release them under an open content license? You can upload those to Wikimedia Commons too!

8. Illustrate an article using Wikimedia Commons

Just like books with no pictures, Wikipedia articles without media can sometimes be a little sad. Add images, videos, and other relevant media from Wikimedia Commons to spice up an article. If you’ve already uploaded content from your collections, match those files to relevant Wikipedia articles. Take that photo of a vintage toothpick holder you uploaded and add it to the National Toothpick Holder Collectors’ Society article.

9. Add categories

This one is perfect for catalogers and those of us who like to organize. All Wikipedia articles are sorted into categories, which helps users navigate articles with common topics. There are whole groups of Wikipedians who spend their time managing categories and categorizing articles – and you can too! (I’m looking at you, subject heading nerds.) Read up on Wikipedia’s categorization guidelines here.

10. Add identifiers

Did you know Wikipedia also likes authority control, ISBNs, and DOIs? Lots of articles still need identifiers, so go forth and add them!

11. Translate an article

Alright all you multi-linguists, here’s your chance. You can translate an article from the English Wikipedia to one of the 286 Wikipedias in other languages, you can translate an article from another language for the English Wikipedia, or you can help clean up text after it’s been translated.

12. Add templates

We’ve all seen a few of these on Wikipedia articles:

Template:UnreferencedTemplate:Cleanup-bare URLsTemplate:Primary sources

Templates are used to mark articles that need help and warn readers about potential issues. Learn more about templates and how to add them here.

13. Join a WikiProject

A WikiProject is a group of Wikipedians who have joined together to edit articles around a common topic (like toothpick holders and Christina Aguilera). Find a group you’re interested in using the WikiProject directory and join the fun! The majority of WikiProjects have long to-do lists for you to take a stab at.

14. Write about libraries, archives, museums, and professional organizations

They need articles too! Find ideas to get you started on the SAA 2014 edit-a-thon page. Want to write an article about your organization? Careful, you might have a conflict of interest. Consider requesting an article or using Articles for Creation.

15. Work on a sister project

Yeah, yeah, not a Wikipedia task. But stick with me. Do you like to travel? Do you have a habit of memorizing random quotations? Do you fancy yourself an amateur lexicographer? Then you might like to help the Wikimedia Foundation with one of their other projects.

Don’t have any idea where to start? Find lists of articles broken down by task in the Help out! section of the Community Portal. This is a good place to practice your editing skills.

Some of the ideas on this list come from this handout. Thanks, Phoebe!

P.S. – Yes, this is my second blog post in one day. I blame Canada, along with my expert procrastination skills.

Why archivists and librarians should edit Wikipedia

By Stefan Schlageter [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Wikipedia turns 15 today! With over 5,000,000 articles in its brain, Wikipedia is much smarter than I was at that age. But like any teenager, there’s still room for improvement. I’m an active Wikipedian, and I encourage all gallery, library, archives, and museum professionals to join me in editing this free online encyclopedia.

I expect some of you have questions (or possibly a very strong reaction) to that last statement. Why should we edit Wikipedia? What’s in it for us? Have you lost your mind? Let me answer the first two questions, and leave that last one up for interpretation.

Why should we edit Wikipedia?

I’ll give you a few reasons. First, Wikipedia is one of the most visited sites on the web. In February 2014, the site was averaging 18 billion page views a month. 18 billion. (x) That’s like saying everyone living in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and, oh, Zimbabwe looked at 36 pages this month. I can tell you my library’s website doesn’t get that kind of attention. Does yours? But Wikipedia, by nature, is a work in progress. It doesn’t have all the answers. As Josep Serra, Director of Museu Picasso, says, “Museums [libraries, and archives] have the knowledge and the documentation, and Wikipedia has a global reach and a circulation far beyond anything any museum could achieve on its own.” (x) So why not work together?

Wikipedia is the place that many people begin (and sometimes end) their research. I’ve seen Wikipedia’s reputation change during my time as a student and now a librarian, but it’s still part of the learning black market for some people. If that’s where my users are going, I want to make sure they’re finding high-quality information, as well as a map for where to go next. As librarian Natalie Binder points out, librarians can bring “a neutral point of view and strong, credible references to an article.” (x)

Wikipedia and cultural institutions have something in common – we want everyone to have equal access to knowledge. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales likes to imagine “a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge.” (x) Before you fall out of your chair, let me add that we are also both fond of high-quality, reliable sources. Okay, now you can fall over. Libraries and archives have those sources at our fingertips (and we librarians and archivists are pretty good at finding any information we don’t have). We can help Wikipedia and our users by adding information from those sources to the site.

Wikipedia is only as good as our sources; libraries have the best sources; Wikipedia has the most eyeballs; Connect a circle of research, dissemination; Wikipedia as a starting point for deeper learning.

This handy summary is courtesy of Jake Orlowitz, Wikipedia editor (Ocassi) and Director, Wikipedia Library. Find the rest of his slides, which are part of OCLC’s “Wikipedia and Libraries: Increasing Your Library’s Visibility” presentation, on SlideShare. [CC-BY]

But wait, what’s in it for us?

Fair question. With tight budgets and staff members doing the work of three people, it might seem like gadding about on Wikipedia is a waste of time. Not that GLAM Wikipedians are always gadding about. I just like to say gadding about. But let’s get back to the question. What’s the ROI for archivists and librarians who already have enough on their plates? Access to knowledge for everyone is all well and good, but that doesn’t help when budget time rolls around.

In brief: when we add content to Wikipedia (and sister projects like Wikimedia Commons) we increase people’s use and awareness of our collections and resources.

Michael Szajewski of Ball State University wrote about this in his article, “Using Wikipedia to Enhance the Visibility of Digitized Archival Assets.” Some of the numbers he shares are pretty fantastic: 40 assets viewed 13,000 times (an increase of 600%); 10,000 pageviews referred from Wikipedia (5x more than any other source); 300% increase in pageviews for the 149-asset collection. Not too shabby!

At the Thomas J. Watson Library (Metropolitan Museum of Art), a staff member placed links to over 1,000 digitized books in relevant Wikipedia articles, mostly in the Further Reading and External Links sections. Now more than 50% of their monthly pageviews (40,000+) are referred from Wikipedia. (x)

Want more proof that editing Wikipedia pays off? The GLAM-Wiki Initiative has a whole page of library, archives, and museum case studies.

So . . .

Still not sure? Other information professionals have written about editing Wikipedia too. Read Natalie Binder’s “7 reasons librarians should edit Wikipedia” and Phoebe Ayers’ “Why work on Wikipedia?”

Convinced you should immediately start editing Wikipedia? Good. Here are 15 ways you can contribute.

A lot of the information in this blog post comes from a presentation I like to give called “GLAMs + Wikipedia: Why we should be involved.” Find that presentation and some of my favorite Wikipedia resources here.

Some thoughts about this mass of odds and ends

Can I take a minute to talk about this blog? Or should I say this space I’ve been neglecting? Over the past two years I have posted a total of seven blog posts: two photo-heavy posts, three link roundups, a reblog of a post I wrote for my organization’s blog, and a post telling you where to look for more recent content. Before that I had two years of semi-regular blogging (I averaged a bit over a post per month). There are plenty of archivists and librarians who average my total number of posts in just one month. Ouch.

Honestly, this is rather embarrassing. I’ve been the “social media person” at most of my jobs, and blogs are pretty standard when it comes to libraries and archives. To be fair, I have written regularly for each place I’ve worked at, both on blogs and other outlets (Facebook, tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, newsletters, etc.). I have also guest-blogged for a couple of sites and written quite a bit on my own tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. I have no doubts about my social media knowledge and abilities, blogs included. Still, I feel like this site deserves a little more of my attention.

I took some time today to look through my 38 published posts (39 now – ha!). They’re a mix of social media advice, outreach projects, thoughts on being an archivist/librarian, highlights from the collections I have worked with, and updates from my professional life.

The various versions of my blog, saved thanks to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

The various versions of my blog, saved thanks to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

In my first post, published on July 17, 2012, I wrote that I created this blog to “document my research on social media use in archives and special collections.” I started the blog as part of an independent study project, but since then it’s morphed several times to accommodate my changing interests and intentions. I’m still interested in social media use in archives and special collections – it’s a topic I hope to write more about – but I don’t want to limit myself to one subject. I don’t mind being the “social media person,” as long as that’s not my only identity. I’m also the outreach person, one of those people who sits at the reference desk, and that nerd who gets excited about weird stuff like manicules or a well-written finding aid. The same goes for this blog, which is why I decided to rename it “A Mass of Odds and Ends,” at least for now (inspired, like my tumblr, by this quote).

I’m not sure what this blog will look like in another few years, although I hope I’ll manage to outdo my previous totals (remember, if I write eight posts in 2016 I will beat my 2014+2015 total). Right now I intend to revisit a few of the topics I’ve written about in the past and explore new ideas that have come along since then. The good news is I have 31 drafts waiting for attention, some of which have been on my to-do list for quite some time. On the blog next week: “I just discovered this new thing called Thefacebook” (kidding, kidding).

Regardless of what’s to come, I look forward to reviving this site and rejoining the librarian blogosphere.

Libraries inspiring artists: Kiln Allegories

This past summer, seven emerging and established glass artists came to The Studio at The Corning Museum of Glass to participate in Mel George’s Kiln Allegories class. When teaching a class, George takes her surroundings into account. “[I] try to give the students special experiences that the individual places can offer,” she explained in a letter. For this class, she was influenced by the mission and collections of the Rakow Research Library. “I have always known the Rakow Research Library is the best for glass in the world, and did use this as the inspiration for the first project.”

Each week while Studio classes are in session, Library staff members give students an introduction to Library services and collections. The introduction includes a tour of the collections, which incorporates a look behind the scenes in the room where rare and special collections are stored. George and her students came to one of these tours, and were inspired by some of the books they saw. They arranged to come back a second time to look at the books in the Library’s collection which incorporate glass.

Lyndy Delian reads to the class during their second visit to the Rakow Library.

Lyndy Delian reads to the class during their second visit to the Rakow Library.

During their second visit, the class got a chance to examine books such as Michael Glancy’s Infinite Obsessions and Modernt svenskt glas (ed. Gregor Paulsson). The students discussed the different thoughts and emotions each book evoked, and reflected on their own projects. An impromptu reading rounded out the trip.

The students returned to The Studio, and, as George explains, “[the] tour of the library, the items and library philosophies, seeped into [their] books.” Her assignment for the students was to “make a book, made of glass, which speaks to their personal story as artists. Essentially, each book is an artist’s visual poem that utilizes surfaces, images, forms, textures and light to harmonize as well as personal palettes of colors to evoke feelings related to their ideas.”

At the end of the class, George and her students invited several members of the Library and Museum staff to an afternoon tea. George spoke about the project and how the Library’s collections inspired the assignment. Each student had a chance to talk about their book and the story behind it. No two books were alike in form or concept. The students pulled their inspiration from their families, Aboriginal culture, memories, and experiences, as well as how books shape their readers, the experience of reading to another person or being read to, the thought that there are no new ideas, and the spaces in between things.

Two of the glass books were directly inspired by the oldest item in the Library collection, the Mappae clavicula. The glass recalls the textures and colors of the 12th century manuscript.

The artists donated their glass books to the Museum, which, to George, was a fitting way to end the class. To her, the books represent the time the artists spent here, and the donation was a “beautiful, poetic, finale for my class.”

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Just as the Rakow Research Library inspired Mel George’s class, libraries everywhere have long been inspiring artists working in all types of mediums. This topic will be the focus of the January Behind the Glass Lecture, given by Erinn Batykefer and Laura Damon-Moore, co-creators of the Library as Incubator Project and co-authors of The Artist’s Library. Both are designed to bring together artists and libraries in creative partnerships. Be sure to join us at 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 8, in the Auditorium, or live stream the lecture on our Ustream channel at 6 p.m. EST. 

This blog post was originally posted on The Corning Museum of Glass’ blog, Behind the Glass.

Link roundup | May 21

Here are a few things I’ve been reading from around the web:

On my nightstand:

Murder in the First-Class Carriage

Murder in the First-Class Carriage: The First Victorian Railway Killing by Kate Colquhoun (find it on WorldCat, Goodreads)

Happy Wednesday!

Librarians and archivists in pop culture

These are some of the images I used in a slideshow last month for the National Library Week ice cream social at my library. Thanks to all the librarians and archivists who suggested characters/libraries on Twitter and tumblr! Here are some of their favorites:

(Sorry the text is tiny – click to zoom!)

Librarians and archivists in pop cultureWho is your favorite librarian/archivist in pop culture?


Link roundup | May 14

Here are a few things I’ve been reading and watching from around the web:

On my nightstand:


 BiblioCraft: The Modern Crafter’s Guide to Using Library Resources to Jumpstart Creative Projects by Jessica Pigza (find it on WorldCat, Goodreads)

Happy Wednesday!

Link roundup | May 7

Here are a few things I’ve been reading from around the web:

On my nightstand:

Consider the Fork

Consider the Fork: How Technology Transforms the Way We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson (find it on WorldCat, Goodreads)

Happy Wednesday!