DPLA + Wikimedia: One Year In

By DPLA, March 5, 2021.
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Early last year, DPLA embarked on a new project, supported by Sloan Foundation, to make images from DPLA’s aggregation of more than 40 million cultural heritage artifacts accessible to vast new audiences via Wikimedia. January 2021 marked the one-year anniversary of this project, and we wanted to share with you some of the exciting outcomes thus far:

  • Building the Pipeline: The DPLA technology team has created a technical pipeline that allows for the uploading of eligible assets and associated metadata to Wikimedia Commons as part of the regular DPLA ingestion process. Partners need only meet the data requirements to participate, and DPLA will carry out all of the actual uploads. This is an essential first step, as it allows digital assets to be embedded in Wikipedia articles and viewed by the public.
  • Making an Impact: In our first year, we uploaded over 1.25 million media files to Wikimedia Commons, constituting more than 650,000 distinct items from over 200 individual institutions—making it the single largest bulk upload to Wikimedia Commons ever. Across a single 8-day span in November 2020, DPLA uploaded almost 500,000 files, a single surge of uploads that would itself have been one of the top-5 bulk uploads in Wikimedia history. You can see and track DPLA uploads here.
  • Measuring Progress: In order to assist participating institutions and those interested in doing so, DPLA hubs can now use the Analytics Dashboard to determine the eligibility of their items for upload to Wikimedia Commons. In the coming months, the Wikimedia tab in the Dashboard will be extended to include additional impact metrics, such as upload count, usage, and page views.
  • Building Awareness: We’ve provided several resources for understanding how institutions can participate in the Wikimedia project to boost discovery and use. Live information sessions with DPLA data fellow and longtime Wikipedian Dominic Byrd-McDevitt will be provided to any interested partner. Institutions can also check out our webinar, Introduction to Wikimedia: Increased Discoverability and Use. In addition, for a deep dive, we recommend the “What the Wiki” series of webinars created by Jen Johnson of the Ohio Digital Network. (This Standardized Rights Statements 101 webinar presented by the DPLA Rights Statements Working Group also may be useful for organizations looking to apply rights statements that would make collections eligible for inclusion in Wikimedia.)

So, what’s next? We are continuing the Wikimedia program into 2021, and we are continuing outreach to members of our Hubs network to increase participation—and looking forward to onboarding new partners in the coming weeks and months. We also are planning future improvements to data synchronization so that changes made by institutions to their metadata for uploaded images can be updated seamlessly on Wikimedia Commons as well. This will be part of a larger effort to migrate uploads to use Structured Data on Commons statements for metadata where possible. 

Ultimately, the true measure of success for this project is not simply the number of files uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, but the usage of those files once they are there, primarily in Wikipedia articles. To that end, we’ll be continuing our education and advocacy to the community of Wikipedia editors, as well as training institutional staff in the DPLA network in Wikipedia editing. We remain committed to this project, and optimistic about its potential to truly make America’s cultural riches freely available to all. If you are interested in working with Wikimedia to expand discovery and use of your organization’s collections, please get in touch.

We hope you will join us on Thursday, March 18, 2021, at 2 pm ET for DPLA+Wikimedia: One Year In + Ten Million Views, in which we’ll discuss in more detail how Wikimedia can increase discovery and use of archival collections, as well as steps DPLA hubs and institutions can take to get involved with this work. Please register here

DPLA would like to thank Digital Commonwealth, Digital Library of Georgia, Indiana Memory, North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, Ohio Digital Network, Plains to Peaks Collective, The Portal to Texas History, and the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration for being a part of the first phase of this project, as well as DPLA data fellow Dominic Byrd-McDevitt, DPLA developer Scott Williams, and the rest of the DPLA technology team for their work to make this project a success.

DPLA’s Wikimedia project is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation