Wikipedia:The Wikipedia Library/Cultural Professionals

The Wikipedia Library
Best practices for Librarians, Archivists and Cultural Professionals who want to link to collections on Wikipedia.

The case for collaboration

  • Wikipedia:TWL/CP
  • WP:TWL/Archivists

Wikipedia's importance

  • 5th most visited website on the entire internet
  • 500 million monthly visitors
  • 8000 views per second
  • #6 top-referrer to all scholarly articles online,[1] with millions of citation clicks per month.[2]

Wikipedia is a ubiquitous starting point for research. Students, librarians, and even doctors check Wikipedia to begin their research, get an overview of a field, find relevant sources, and engage with the popular conception and summary of a subject.

In the modern information age, search no longer begins at the library or the archives. It begins with a web search and typically goes next to the top-linked Wikipedia article. There's a saying in the library world that discovery happens elsewhere,[3] away from the library. What is less often mentioned is that these days, "elsewhere" IS Wikipedia.

We know researchers are starting their searches on the open web, and even on Wikipedia directly. Working directly with the Wikipedia community allows archives and special collections to engage directly with issues around how to expose their collections in Wikipedia and continue the conversation about how to get researchers from sources on the web, back to the library or archives, where they can access those resources directly and discover even more to help them with their information needs.

Principles for linking to your collections

Here are some basic principles to take into account when adding links:

  • Prioritize links to the most relevant, specific, and useful materials on the web as well as the best offline sources. The principal goal of Wikipedia is to facilitate access to the "sum of all human knowledge" (see Wikipedia:Prime objective); when adding links on Wikipedia make sure you are pointing towards digital records in your collections or holdings that provide substantive contextual information about the topic of the article, whether that is in the holdings themselves, collection description, or description of items within the collection. The community greatly prefers not to include links indiscriminately and in very large quantities.
  • The more you do, the more it helps Wikipedia's readers and community: contributing links to your holdings is useful; contributing links to other holdings alongside is helpful; reorganizing a further reading section while adding links to your sources, and citations for all of the major scholarship on the topic is superlative. The community appreciates editors who work with the intentions of readers and the community in mind. Collecting and organizing information about relevant scholarship is a powerful tool for future researchers; even if you don't expand the article, expanding the collection of citations allows you to better meet our goals and make a positive impression on the community.

The template just for archives and archivists

Below are several examples of scenarios and methods of citing an archive. One you should definitely know about is the citation template we made just for archives.

Template:Cite archive has many fields directly related to common archival holding specifications.

Potential fields

{{cite archive |first= |last= |item = |item-url = |type = |item-id = |date = May 8, 1924|page= |pages= |fonds = |series = |file = |box= |collection = |collection-url = |repository = |institution = |location = |oclc= |accession= |ref=}}


{{cite archive |first= Booth|last= Tarkington|item = Booth Tarkington letter to George Ade |type =Textual record |date = May 8, 1924 |series = Correspondence, ca. 1882-1947|file =Correspondence, Sto-U, ca. 1894-1943 |box= Tarkington, Booth, ca. 1905-1943|collection = George Ade Papers, 1878-2007 |repository =Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center |institution =Purdue University |location =West Lafayette, IN}}

Displays as

Tarkington, Booth. "Booth Tarkington letter to George Ade" (May 8, 1924) [Textual record]. George Ade Papers, 1878-2007, Series: Correspondence, ca. 1882-1947, Box: Tarkington, Booth, ca. 1905-1943, File: Correspondence, Sto-U, ca. 1894-1943. West Lafayette, IN: Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center, Purdue University.

You can use this template any time you want to include these fields, especially those that aren't present in the more commonly used Cite web template.

As "Further reading" or "Other sources"

If your digital holdings include unique or otherwise hard to obtain information about a topic, but cannot be included as a reference because that information is principally in primary sources, adding a "Research collections" and/or "Archival holdings" section to an article's "Further reading" section can highlight where to find that further information. In adding to these sections, make sure to do due diligence as a research facilitator, and include any other relevant archival or digital holdings from both your institution and others. Typically "Further Reading" sections will point to narrow scope resources using a full citation; for example a section of a digital book or a particular article in a magazine only available through your library would be appropriate for Further reading sections. Sometimes, your archival materials or the materials aren't "readings": it might be appropriate to change the "Further reading" section into another title such as "Other sources", as is used at Gordon Parks#Other sources.

Examples of further reading links

Further reading section on History of London

Displays as:

Further reading

  • Donnelly, Judy. The archive of Clarke, Irwin & Company Limited. Hamilton, Ontario: McMaster University Library.

Formatted with:

==Further reading==
*{{cite archive |last=Donnelly |first=Judy |collection=The archive of Clarke, Irwin & Company Limited |date=1992 |institution=[[McMaster University]] Library |location=Hamilton, Ontario |collection-url=}}

As "Bibliographies" or "Works" sections

Frequently articles about authors will have Works "sections", and longer articles will have a "Bibliography of" or "List of works about" section, or secondary articles that includes a comprehensive list of resources, works or other materials related to the topic. Like "Further reading" sections, these are very rich places for placing links to your collection: this is where, typically, including a link within the list to distinctive or rare examples of a works in library holdings will be useful. Make sure to annotate the link, so that both readers and other Wikipedians understand how that link or item is important to the research being discussed.

Examples in bibliographies

Listing of primary source archives on the Cold War bibliography

Displays as:

Document Collections

Formatted with:

==Document Collections==
*{{cite web |publisher=[[United States Army Center of Military History]] |title=Cold War Archival Material |url= |accessdate=June 10, 2010}}
*{{cite web |publisher=[[Cold War International History Project]] |title=Digital Archive |url= |accessdate=April 29, 2013}}

As References

References support the verification of the information contained within an article or record. Citations from external sources give readers the opportunity to click through and check where the information came from and if it is a valid source for the claim. On Wikipedia, we generally do not use primary sources to verify claims; instead, we prefer secondary or tertiary sources. That said, if you have a finding aid with rich scholarly supplemental material or metadata about the subject, then that can be considered a secondary source about the item and used to verify content. In general, the community most prefers links to external resources added as references to verify article content.

Adding references

Adding a reference using the "Cite" reference toolbar"

To add a reference do the following steps:

  • Click "Edit" or "Edit source".
  • Summarize the source material that you plan to reference.
  • Place your cursor at the end of the sentence which your reference will verify.
  • Click the "Cite" menu at the top of the editing Window, choose the "Cite web" option and fill out the form with the citation information (metadata) describing your site.
  • Click Save
  • Your citation should appear in the text within <ref>{{Cite web| ...}}</ref>: modifying the reference can be done within the citation template, "cite web" in this case.

For more information about adding references to Wikipedia pages, see Help:Referencing for beginners

Example of references to archives

References on Artwork by John Steuart Curry

Displays as:

Curry, however, argued that the idea to be expressed was a correct assumption of how life was in rural America.[. 1]


  1. ^ Lewenthal, Reeves. "Object 3: Personal letter" [letter]. John Steuart Curry and Curry family papers, Box: 1, File: 41. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Formatted with:

Curry, however, argued that the idea to be expressed was a correct assumption of how life was in rural America.<ref>{{cite archive |last=Lewenthal |first=Reeves |box=1|file=41item=Object 3: Personal letter |collection=John Steuart Curry and Curry family papers |repository=Archives of American Art |institution=Smithsonian Institution |item-url=|type=letter}}}</ref>


As "External Links"

External links sections at the ends of articles typically should be reserved for only the most useful or definitive digital resources on the web. Adding a link to your collection in the external links section of an article should only happen if you have exhausted the other options. Generally, External links sections get the most scrutiny from editors, because they should only be pointing to the several most relevant external places for finding additional information about a topic.

If you find that multiple archives, digital collections, or similar academic sources are listed, it might be useful to break the external links into subsections at the beginning of a list of like external links, in this case links to archives ( i.e. add "'''Archival collections'''" to the beginning of a list).

Example of external links

External link on William Blake

Displays as:

External links

  • The William Blake Archive – A Comprehensive Academic Archive of Blake's works with scans from multiple collections

Formatted as:

==External links==
*[ The William Blake Archive] – A Comprehensive Academic Archive of Blake's works with scans from multiple collections

Other examples include:



  • Educator training: 1-hour instructional tutorial overview of how to integrate educational models into standard university curriculum
  • The Wikipedia Adventure: 1-hour interactive game about learning to edit


  • OCLC Webinar: "Improving Wikipedia Show and Tell": OCLC Webinar recorded December 2014. Librarians and archivists share their processes for adding links to collections and other content to Wikipedia. Presentations include both lessons learned and successes. Several of the presenters "share desktops" to show how they edit Wikipedia articles to include library and archival resources.

Case studies

  • Case studies of Libraries participating in the Wikipedia Community: Example projects documented by the Wikimedia community on how Libraries successfully engage with Wikipedia
  • Case studies of archives participating in the Wikipedia Community: Example projects documented by the Wikimedia community on how Libraries successfully engage with Wikipedia and the larger Wikimedia Community

Academic studies

This list includes case studies that highlight the use of interns or other library staff to improve the relationship between digital library resources and Wikipedia.

  • Belden, D. (2008). "Harnessing social networks to connect with audiences: If you build it, will they come 2.0?". Internet Reference Services Quarterly. 13 (1): 99–111. doi:10.1300/J136v13n01_06.
  • Carleton, Amy; Musselman, Cecelia A.; Rust, Amanda; Kuriger Suiter, Greta; Thorndike-Breeze, Rebecca (2017). "Working Wikipedia: A Year of Meaningful Collaboration". Double Helix. 5. eISSN 2372-7497. Open access icon
  • Combs, M (2011). "Wikipedia as an access point for manuscript collections". In K. Theimer (ed.). A Different kind of web: New connections between archives and our users. Society of American Archivists. pp. 139–147.
  • Elder, Danielle (2012). "Wikipedia Lover, Not a Hater: Harnessing Wikipedia to Increase the Discoverability of Library Resources". Journal of Web Librarianship. 6 (1): 32–44. doi:10.1080/19322909.2012.641808.
  • Galloway, Ed; DellaCorte, Cassandra (2014). "Increasing the Discoverability of Digital Collections Using Wikipedia: The Pitt Experience". Pennsylvania Libraries: Practice and research. 2 (1). doi:10.5195/palrap.2014.60. Open access icon
  • Lally, A. M.; Dunford, C. E. (2007). "Using Wikipedia to extend digital collections". D-Lib Magazine. 13 (5/6). doi:10.1045/may2007-lally. Open access icon
  • Lally, A. (May 18, 2009). Using Wikipedia to highlight digital collections at the University of Washington. The Interactive archivist: Case studies in utilizing web 2.0 to improve the archival experience. Open access icon
  • Pressley, L; McCallum, C. J. (2008). "Putting the library in Wikipedia". Info Today. 32 (5). Open access icon
  • Szajewski, M. (2013). "Using Wikipedia to enhance the visibility of digitized archival assets". D-Lib Magazine. 19 (3/4). doi:10.1045/march2013-szajewski. Open access icon
  • Zentall, Lena; Cloutier, Camille (2008). "The Calisphere Wikipedia Project: Lessons Learned". CSLA Journal. 32 (1): 27–29.


  1. ^ Joe Wass (19 May 2016). "Where do DOI clicks come from?". CrossRef. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  2. ^ Piccardi, Tiziano; Redi, Miriam; Colavizza, Giovanni; West, Robert (26 January 2020). "Quantifying Engagement with Citations on Wikipedia" (PDF). doi:10.1145/3366423.3380300. Retrieved 24 April 2023.
  3. ^ Dempsey, Lorcan. "Discovery happens elsewhere". Lorcan Dempsey's Weblog. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
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