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IUPUI student is serving as "Wikipedian in Residence" at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis


Lori Byrd Phillips Lori Byrd Phillips at The Children's Museum

What is GLAM-Wiki? (click for fullsize)

cc-by-sa The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

What started as a project to document public art on IUPUI's campus on Wikipedia has turned into a labor of love, and career, for IUPUI museum studies student Lori Byrd Phillips.

Phillips is the current "Wikipedian in Residence" at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. If you've never heard of a Wikipedian in Residence before, you aren't alone. Phillips was only the second person to receive that title, though she's now held the title longer than anyone else.

So, what is a "Wikipedian in Residence"?

Phillips briefly describes her role.

In fall of 2009, Phillips took a museum studies class which piloted the WikiProject: Public Art project. This project, which culminated in the documentation on Wikipedia of more than 30 pieces of art on the IUPUI campus, gave her an in-depth knowledge of Wikipedia and its purpose. "As a class, we just had to figure out this Wikipedia community, and I hadn't ever done it before either, so this is what got me interested and hooked on it," says Phillips. It also made her want more. "I ended up just kind of going crazy and taking over the organization of the whole project," she says. "It was just something I was really interested in."

Phillips, now armed with a thorough knowledge of Wikipedia and its community, became immersed in the grassroots GLAM-Wiki project. GLAM—which stands for Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums—aims to help Wikimedia produce free, open-access content to the public from these institutions. One of her GLAM colleagues, Liam Wyatt, had in June 2010 been named the first official Wikipedian in Residence at the British Museum. The word began to get out (even in the New York Times). A representative of The Children's Museum became interested and contacted Wyatt, who then referred Phillips to the museum.

Phillips has now been serving as Wikipedian in Residence since August of 2010, while also finishing up her graduate degree in museum studies, which she will finish in May 2012. Newly appointed in the role of US Cultural Partnerships Coordinator, she will continue to help build partnerships between cultural institutions and Wikipedia.

Some of the projects that she's been involved with in her role as Wikipedian in Residence at the museum include:

  • Translating Wikipedia articles into Spanish while chatting live on Skype with researchers in Mexico.
  • Working with the Museum Apprentice Program, which recently gave a group of 13-18 year old teens an opportunity to document and write Wikipedia articles on five iconic objects in the museum.
  • Hosting "open houses" at the museum where other Wikipedians get a "backstage pass" to the museum to document, photograph, and write Wikipedia articles.

Although Phillips was the second ever Wikipedian in Residence, and there have only been 11 total in that position, she is not the only one to have IUPUI roots. Sarah Stierch, who attended IUPUI for museum studies and native american studies, served as the Wikipedian in Residence for the Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C., from May-October 2011.

The IUPUI connection

Phillips explains how museum studies classes and projects at IUPUI got her started on the road to being a Wikipedian in Residence.

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