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UMD Libraries' WikiProject surpasses editing 1,000 items

UMD's archival collections are now more accessible across the globe.

The UMD Libraries WikiProject, an effort to link data to related content from the Libraries’ archival collections, has surpassed editing its 1000th item on Wikidata. These valuable resources are now more discoverable by scholars across the globe.

Ever wonder where those quick facts that show up alongside your Google search results are pulled from? Much of that information comes from Wikidata, a free knowledge base of structured data. Much like its widely known sibling project, Wikipedia, Wikidata can be edited by anyone, and especially benefits from contributions by cultural heritage organizations. Wikidata’s extensive collection of interconnected data points makes it a robust and valuable database useful to both a curious browser and those undertaking a major research project.

Since June 2020, a team of editors from the Libraries’ cataloging and metadata services and special collections teams have been working to develop and enhance Wikidata items for people and organizations whose records are held in the UMD Special Collections and Archives (SCUA). UMD's editors searched Wikidata for names from the Libraries’ archival collections. If an entry existed, they added a link directly to the UMD Libraries’ resource. In many other cases, the team created items from scratch.

When the project started, there were only 7 items on Wikidata connected to content from our archival collections. UMD’s team of editors have added around 100 connections per month. The effort is indeed driving traffic to the Libraries’ archival collections. Between June 2020 and August 2021, Wikidata directed nearly 755 visitors to the UMD Archival Collections website.

The project is part of the Program for Cooperative Cataloging's Wikidata pilot project (the PCC helps determine policy guidelines for cataloging in libraries across the United States). As an outgrowth of the Wikidata project, the Libraries have also joined the Social Networks in Archival Context (SNAC) Cooperative as a member institution. The SNAC database brings together resources from around the world, allowing users to access distributed resources and archival collections at thousands of libraries.

The UMD Libraries team has also shared their expertise and experience with libraries across the state of Maryland, offering Wikidata workshops to librarians at USMAI campuses. The University System of Maryland & Affiliated Institutions (USMAI) is a consortium of seventeen academic libraries in the State of Maryland.

You can browse a list of Wikidata items connected to UMD Libraries archival collections here.

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