Wikimedia projects benefit from Bodleian Libraries residency

This post was written by Dr Martin Poulter, Wikimedian in Residence at the Bodleian Libraries For anyone looking to define … Continue reading “Wikimedia projects benefit from Bodleian Libraries residency”

  • Martin Poulter
  • July 16, 2015
The image shows a colourful watercolour of Gautama Buddha sitting beneath a pagoda
18th century Burmese watercolour featuring Gautama Buddha. From the Bodleian Libraries

This post was written by Dr Martin Poulter, Wikimedian in Residence at the Bodleian Libraries

For anyone looking to define Taijitu, Putso or Sangha, or to learn about Elizabeth Fry, the Junior wives of Krishna, or the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, one of the top internet search hits will be Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Articles about these, and hundreds of other topics, are now being improved using the Bodleian Libraries’ historic collections.

Images from Digital.Bodleian collection are being uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, the database of freely reusable digital files. From here they can be embedded in articles not just in English Wikipedia, but in other languages and in other educational projects. So far, more than six hundred articles, across many different languages, are illustrated with images from the Bodleian  Libraries, reaching a total of nearly 1.5 million readers per month.

The Bodleian images come from many different countries and eras. The themes range from the serene watercolours of 19th century Burma (present-day Myanmar), via geometrical diagrams in an 11th century Arabic book, to the nightmarish demonic visions of the 14th century Book of Wonders.

A taste is given in an image gallery on Commons. Clicking on any of the images – here or in Wikipedia – and then on ‘More details’ will bring up a larger version, along with links and shelfmarks so that interested readers can track down the physical object.

Anyone is allowed to edit the entries for the images, for example to translate descriptions into other languages. However, these edits are monitored to make sure they respect the educational goals of the site.

This is just the start of an ongoing project: more files and more themes will be added over the next nine months. The Bodleian Libraries’ Wikimedian In Residence, Martin Poulter, welcomes enquiries at

2 thoughts on “Wikimedia projects benefit from Bodleian Libraries residency”

  1. Hi Nemo. I’m using two categories. One is the “Files uploaded by the Bodleian Libraries’ Wikimedian In Residence” category that you’ve linked to. The other is “Files from the Bodleian Libraries”, to which the numbers in this blog post refer. The latter category includes the former (so far), but also includes other uploads of digital files which I’ve identified as coming from the Bodleian Libraries. There will files uploaded by me that have come from other cultural organisations, and files not uploaded by me but which have the same origin, so the two categories will overlap but not be identical. I agree that we’re very lucky to be working with the Bodleian and in future months there will be even more diversity of material. I hope this makes sense. Best to ping me via email if you have further questions.

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