S553 Public Library Management: Wikipedia Class Project

Photo of Andrea

SLIS faculty member Andrea Copeland is teaching S553 Public Library Management this fall on the Indianapolis campus. Students in the class developed two Public Library Advocacy pages on Wikipedia. They invite SLIS faculty, staff, students and friends to contribute to these pages:
• Public Library Advocacy
• History of Public Library Advocacy

Below is an announcement about the project from the class:

"Library advocacy is more important than it ever has been before for Hoosiers. On November 2, voters will be asked if the '1-2-3' property tax caps implemented in 2008 should be written into the state constitution. The Indiana Library Federation has been strongly campaigning against the referendum, citing that it could have a disastrous long-term affect on the finances of many municipal institutions and services, including libraries. In the lead up to the vote, librarians, law makers, and concerned citizens who want to protect the future of libraries have been working hard to increase library advocacy across the state.

The increased need for library advocacy served as the perfect backdrop for students in Andrea Copeland's Public Library Management class at IUPUI as they created two Wikipedia entries on public library advocacy and the history of public library advocacy as a class project “[One of my goals for the project] was to encourage advocacy for public libraries,” said Copeland. “Right now, across the nation, public libraries are losing financial support and as a result communities are losing access to and as information and it is our collective, professional responsibility to educate our constituents about the fundamental importance of public library resources and services to an engaged and informed citizenry thereby inspiring support for libraries.”

In addition to increasing access to information about library advocacy, Copeland also wanted the students to experience working within and as an organization. “[I wanted to] encourage the students to understand the management process through collaboration. One aspect of being an effective library manager is the ability to work with others and accomplish goals through teamwork.”

Utilizing 21st century technology and sharpening media literacy skills was another task for students in Copeland's class. Class member David Gray supervised the technological side of the project, and set up the entry before students began to add content. Gray found that the wealth of Wikipedia's open source documentation made it easy to create and edit the pages, and he felt that Wikipedia had the potential to be “a great tool for librarians to use and not just to get information, but also to create and edit information.”

IUPUI SLIS student Cynthia Wilson said she loved being a Wikipedian on this project. It was her first time working with Wikipedia, and the only thing she found challenging was just what you might expect from a large group project. "I didn't like the fact that people in the class worked at such different paces," said Wilson.

To make others aware of the IUPUI SLIS students' contribution to Wikipedia, the class' public relations team is notifying relevant listservs, newsletters and other organizations about the newly created pages, as well as adding the two pages to the “see also” sections of other similar Wikipedia pages to increase traffic.

The students' efforts appear to have paid off even before the official completion date of the project, as their Wikipedia entry is the sixth highest Google search result for 'public library advocacy'.”

Posted October 28, 2010