Bodleian staff conference 2015

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As part of the Bodleian Libraries' Wikimedian In Residence project, Martin Poulter gave a 25-minute session for the Oxford Libraries' staff conference on Tuesday 21th July. The title was “Adventures in a wiki world: harnessing pedantry for peaceful ends”. 33 people registered in advance for the session, nearly putting it in the top ten most popular talks out of the 39 given at the conference.


I don’t like it when someone is wrong on the Internet. I don’t like it when concepts are identified by keywords rather than an identifier from an authority file. Yet I still have friends. This is because my pedantry has an outlet which serves the public benefit.

Wikipedia and its sister sites let me share personal and professional enthusiasms. They let me work with others around the world, and with library resources, to build useful things. This session is a summary of recent adventures with an invitation to adventures of your own.

Social media responses

The following is copied from James Baker's notes/ tweets from the event on GitHub under that text's CC-BY-SA licence.

Wikimedia lowers the barrier to being a knowledge philanthropist

WikiSource. Place for transcribed/fixed text that people can then find and therefore know about someone you care about and have holdings related to.

#oxlib15 @mlpoulter extolling the virtues of the wonderful @wikisource, the free library that anyone can improve
— James Baker (@j_w_baker) July 21, 2015

#oxlib15 And yes, 'anyone can improve' is a good thing. And 'anyone' could/should/must(?) include library folk.
— James Baker (@j_w_baker) July 21, 2015

There is a satisfaction in seeing something messy and sorting it out.


by John Pilbeam, Sainsbury Library reproduced with permission

This talk by Martin Poulter, the Bodleian Libraries’ Wikimedian in Residence, gave a fascinating insight into his “adventures” at the Wikimedia Foundation ( Whereas many people spend their free time online with “mindless” pursuits, such as playing Facebook games, Martin chooses to spend this time as a “knowledge philanthropist”.

As such, he shares his knowledge online, for instance by correcting texts on Wikisource (, a free library of public domain texts which can be reused in many ways, including being exported as e-books. Using the examples of the Wikisource Mary Wollstonecraft page and the feminism portal, Martin explained how texts from other sources such as the Oxford Text Archive and Project Gutenberg can be enhanced through correcting errors and adding formatting, and made accessible to wider audiences by linking to them from Wikipedia.

We were also shown the Wikibooks and Wikimedia Commons sites, which focus on creating open textbooks and being the media repository for all Wikimedia projects respectively. The latter includes images from the Bodleian’s John Johnson Collection. To conclude, we were encouraged to get involved with Wikimedia projects, including taking part in the upcoming “Week of Women in Science events in Oxford” ( ).

Further work

The presentation was developed into an article for CILIP Update, "Shiver-inducing connections with the past", which appeared on pages 41-42 of the November/December 2015 issue.