Saturday, April 30, 2011

#Interview with #Wikipedia and #GLAM personality: HstryQT

Lori Byrd Phillips is a museum studies graduate student at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and, since September, has served as the Wikipedian-in-Residence at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis. She has a blog: "Museums & Motherhood" and her contributions about Wikipedia and GLAM are well received.

Are you more of a Wikimedian or a museum person
I've always been a sort of interesting combination of the two. I was a museum person before I was a Wikipedian, as it was through my Collections Care and Management course as a museum studies graduate student that I was introduced to Wikipedia as a potential tool for sharing museum content. After dedicating myself to that project, which resulted in the IUPUI Public Art Collection being represented in Wikipedia, I was hooked. Though I don't have much free time (I'm a stay at home mom AND a graduate student!) I do contribute to Wikipedia for fun, for instance I significantly expanded a number of Fabergé Egg articles. I've also gotten in the habit of using Wikipedia in any graduate projects that I can. An example of this is the Children's Museum MAP program to create Wikipedia articles, which was initially conceived for my Museum Education course and took on a life of its own!

At this point in time I'm involved in Wikipedia projects with two museums. I have a sense that I'm perceived as a museum studies grad student who happens to be heavily involved with the GLAM initiative and understands the Wikipedia community. I admit that I'm also known as "the Wikipedia girl" in my graduate program. I get good-humored eye rolls from my peers sometimes, but many in my program have also made a name for themselves through Wikipedia, being involved in the Indiana Statehouse Public Art project that received a congressional resolution, and assisting with the recent revamp of the Indianapolis Museum of Art's Wikipedia article. As both a Wikipedian and a museum person, I've always felt that I'm in a bit of a unique position, and one that I hope can continue to be beneficial for both communities.

What does a childrens museum have to offer Wikipedia
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is unique in its size and scope. It is literally the largest children's museum in the world, both in square footage and, at 110,000 objects, in the size of its collection. Unlike museums that have a number of specific, notable objects that deserve to have articles created/updated, the Children's Museum is different in that it offers "best of type" representations of many objects and topics through their American Collection, Natural Science Collection, and World Cultures Collection. We share this knowledge through curator-vetted image donations and, in the future, by providing published institutional research and resources in a digital form for Wikipedians to be able to use.

How important are illustrations in your work

Images are extremely important in the work I do for WikiProject:Public Art . The project aims to create new articles about public art and raise the awareness of these artworks within their communities. It's imperative to have an image associated with the article in order to identify the artwork. In the United States especially, this of course involves using fair-use images of these often copyrighted public artworks. Through WikiProject:Public art and projects like the E-Volunteer Program, we're considering new ways to efficiently obtain fair-use photographs when a volunteer might write an article for an artwork that's not in their immediate vicinity. Sarah Stierch has been especially interested in pursuing this topic.

Do you consider yourself a Wikipedian or a Wikimedian

While I'm sensitive to the Wikimedian distinction and attempt to honor it in my various blog posts and articles, I personally consider myself more of a Wikipedian. I tend to focus my efforts within Wikipedia and only recently have spent more time within Commons, learning the ropes for the Children's Museum's image donation. It's also easier to describe the term "Wikipedian" to museum people. "Wikimedian" tends to confuse them even more. Though I do find myself explaining the Wikipedia-Wikimedia relationship rather often, which usually proves to be eye-opening for those in the museum.

Is Wiki(m/p)edia a project or a movement in your appreciation

I definitely feel that Wikimedia is a movement, especially when considering the Campus Ambassador and GLAM initiatives. Many have strong opinions about Wikipedia's usefulness in daily life and in the classroom. Both of these projects are providing tangible results that have the potential to change the perspectives of naysayers, which typically include those who would be most valuable for the encyclopedia: educators, researchers, and experts in their respective fields. I've really enjoyed, slowly but surely, watching academics become more open-minded to Wikipedia as a teaching tool. I feel like with each publication, each journal article, each blog post or case study, more people are being exposed to what Wikipedia is capable of. As a former social studies educator, this potential is what has kept me motivated within the GLAM and the Campus Ambassador initiatives.

How important are the Wikipedia visitor statistics for GLAMS
Speaking specifically for the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, page view statistics are not a top priority, but rather an added perk. The museum wants to share their content with a global audience, while also bettering the representation of the museum within Wikipedia. This doesn't necessarily bring in a lot of click through traffic to their own website, but it does increase audience understanding of what the museum can offer through the more visible Wikipedia. The museum is actually directing their visitors to Wikipedia, through the use of the Wikipedia Widget on their website and, soon, through QR codes in exhibits.

One way that page view statistics are used in the museum is in measuring monthly visitor "usage" of the notable museum objects. The new Wikipedia articles for six iconic museum objects are now included in these metrics within the Collections department. I thought this was a smart way to measure the extent that the museum's collections are impacting their audience, both on-site and virtually.

To what extent are the museums that you have worked with multicultural
One of the core values of the Children's Museum is: "We believe in sharing our experiences, our treasury of artifacts, and the talents of staff, volunteers, Guild, and youth to positively affect children and families in our community, state, region, nation and the world."

I took "the world" to heart when beginning my internship, and I know that connecting their audience with a number of cultures is an important goal for the museum. The museum reaches out to the community through monthly Target Family Free nights, where I've had the opportunity to volunteer and experience the diversity of visitors. In programming, the museum reaches out to a diverse audience while also presenting multicultural perspectives in authentic ways. This is especially evident in "Take Me There: Egypt" which will rotate into a new cultural experience every few years.

The museum has partnerships with a number of institutions around the world, and I believe the collaboration with Wikipedia was just one more way to reach out to a multicultural, global audience. They're only just beginning, and have big plans for other ways that they can use Wikipedia to reach out to children and families, both in their local community and around the world. I look forward to seeing where things go from here.

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