SCOTTISH libraries are to recruit their first ever Wikimedian to put the nation's print archives online - but insist it will not make them redundant.

The new temporary position aims to release material normally held within the walls of Scotland's libraries onto the internet through Wikipedia.

The project, first proposed by Inverclyde Libraries, involves using Wikipedia as a marketing tool to increase interest in the nation's libraries, by self-promoting through the content they are providing.

It comes three months after a new campaign against the closure of libraries was launched by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland (CILIPS).

The Library Matters campaign aimed to highlight the threat of further cuts to local and school libraries ahead of the local government elections in May and received the support of authors Irvine Welsh and Graeme Macrae Burnet.


The Wikimedian in Residence will train library staff to create and edit articles, identify appropriate materialfor Wikipedia and assist libraries to host digital content creation workshops – edit-a-thons – for library users. The Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC) which has launched a recruitment drive to appoint the new Wikimedian in Residence see the move as a way to widen the access of library material.

Content will include local history materials and biographies of local people of note not currently digitised and there will be particular focus on notable Scottish women to address the under-representation of female achievements in general across Wikipedia content.

But Pamela Tulloch, chief executive of SLIC said the intention is for the Wikpedia to complement the role of existing libraries, rather than replace it.

“There is a widespread perception that disruptive technologies like Wikipedia are making the role of public libraries as information providers redundant. On the contrary, public libraries in Scotland are embracing digital technology and using it to their advantage, and this project is a perfect example of that in action. We will be working with Wikipedia to showcase library collections to a wider audience," she said.


"I think putting information on Wikipedia about the local collections and local content and local people will actually drive footfall to local libraries.

“Scotland’s public libraries have huge swathes of information, records and catalogues relating to Scotland’s history, heritage and culture that only exist in hard copy - it is currently missing from the digital information landscape.

"At the moment what you have is a lot of the local history collections in public libraries are Scotland's biggest secret, because nobody knows what they have.

"If you take some very rich, in-depth collections, there is no way they are going to be able to digitise and put absolutely everything online. But what they will be able to do through Wikimedian project is actually let people know that those collections are there and for people who want that more in-depth experience, they will have to go and check the primary source material.

“Through the Wikimedian in Residence, we will significantly improve the accessibility of this rich body of knowledge and information about Scotland’s history and culture. At the same time, we will improve the digital skills of librarians and library staff, enabling them to fully support the digital agenda and enhancing the library service at a local level.

"It's a win-win."

The project is funded from the Public Library Improvement Fund (PLIF), which is administered by SLIC to the tune of £54,000 over the next two years It will cover costs associated with the project, including the Wikimedian in Residence salary, training events, IT equipment and travel expenses.