Since Spring 2018, coordinators across NNLM offices have organized a Wikipedia edit-a-thon. In the first event, the topical focus was rare diseases. The next time we held an event in the fall, we selected Women’s Health as our theme. The response has been fantastic, with several libraries and other organizations hosting their own edit-a-thons and tweeting out to us via social media.
This past spring, we switched things up again by hosting a face-to-face edit-a-thon at the Medical Library Association‘s 119th Annual Meeting in Chicago, IL on May 6th, 2019. Since many of the NNLM staff attend this meeting, it only made sense to propose the MLA immersion session, “Elevating Health Equity: Wikipedia Edit-a-thon.” Even thought we were literally all going to be in the same room together, we continued to encourage participants to use the hashtag #CiteNLM in order to connect with others and share their contributions.
Why focus on improving citations on Wikipedia? Well, according Dr. James Heilman, Canadian emergency physician and founder of WikiProject Medicine’s Medicine Translation Task Force, it is widely used by providers (50-100%) and medical students (94%). Improving citations on Wikipedia may improve the quality of information that’s already being consulted by professionals. Additionally, it can help improve search rankings of popular search engines to the authoritative and reliable resources at the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
The planning group continues to meet to figure out how we can continue to encourage participation as well as improve citations on Wikipedia. Keep an eye out on our WikiProject page for upcoming events!