Editathon, British Library/January 2011

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The entrance to the British Library.

"Editathon" at the British Library - In a nutshell

Where?: British Library

When?: Friday 14th and Saturday 15th January 2011

Who can attend?: Any Wikimedian!

What were the results?: See below...

What is it?

Meet by this statue at 09:30.

This Edit-athon is an event aimed at sharing the expertise of real-world cultural institutions with our wiki-expertise. We'll be able to access the resources of the British Library, guided by the expertise of its curators, with the joint aim of improving the content on Wikipedia that is relevant to the British Library's collections.

We've chosen to run the event on Wikipedia's 10th birthday deliberately - this is an opportunity to celebrate Wikipedia's birthday with other Wikipedians, and to spend the day improving Wikipedia's content. We'll also be celebrating in the pub in the evenings.

The event will span two days - 14-15 January 2011 - and will run between 09:30 and 17:00 each day. More curators will be available on the Friday than on the Saturday. On both days, we have a room booked that will hold around 20 people. We have some Wikipedia goodies to hand out during the event (provided by the Wikimedia Foundation). Lunch will be provided by the British Library on both days.

An hour-long tour of the Evolving English exhibition will be given at 11.30 on Friday by one of the curators, Jonnie Robinson, who is an expert in accents and dialects. A guided tour of the Library building will be given on Saturday at 10.30 and 15.00 (10 people per tour).

The event is being organised by Mike Peel on behalf of Wikimedia UK. If you have any questions, please ask him, or add them below.

For general background on this event, take a look at the Backstage Pass and Hoxne Challenge events - these were similar events that were run at the British Museum last year as part of the Wikipedian in Residence project.


Passes and requesting material

British Library staff may be able to provide some research material on the day, but in order to enter any of the Reading Rooms, and to access eJournals, books, magazines, etc. you'll need to obtain a Reader Pass from the British Library. You can pre-register for one of these on the British Library's website. Note that you will need to provide identification and proof of address, plus details of the items you want to see, both when you register for a reader pass and also on the day. You can still participate in the event without a reader pass, as Library experts will be available to help, but you'll get the most of out of it if you have one.

Subject material

If you're interested in coming to this event, then please take a look at the British Library's website (and wikipedia:Category:British Library collections) and identify the subject areas that are of most interest to you - we can then hopefully match you up to a curator on the day.

If you want access to books that are not held on the British Library's St Pancras site, then you'll need to request the books in advance (via your Reader Pass application).

If there are specific articles that you'd like to work on during the event, then add them below, or add your name alongside if you can help out:

  1. Authorized King James Version - Andrew Davidson - BL website entry
  2. National Philatelic Collection (with 8 million objects) has no associated article (stub started) - BL:Philatelic Collection.
  3. Burney Collection (the largest and most comprehensive collection of early English news media with 17th-19th Century Newspapers, English theatre playbills and Greek & Latin manuscripts) has just a stub article. As well as improving the article to explain the nature and value of the archives and their collection history, the newspaper digitization project has been notable - BL:Burney Collection and 07-02-2010 Times article.
  4. British wash houses - In the UK, baths and wash houses were a Georgian and Victorian public health innovation (see BL:Georgian/Health for a general context). The topic has a brief mention on Wikipedia under Public bathing but lacks a stand-alone article (start now created) or associated biographic articles need significant improvement such as the architect Alfred Cross (Alfred William Stephens Cross, 1858-1932), the wash house "Saint of the Slums" Kitty Wilkinson or the "father" of the modern shower Oskar Lassar which does not mention the "Lassar bath". Existing articles on washhouse buildings can be found at Category:Public baths. As well as newspaper articles, the BL has original documents such as this influential proposal in 1850 by the Committee for promoting the Establishment of Baths and Wash-Houses for the Labouring Classes (London).

On the day

See the Library's instructions for getting to the library. Meet at 09:30 each day at the statue of Newton in the entrance area, or if you arrive later phone Mike on 07988 013 646 or ask for directions from the information desk.

Don't forget to:

  • Bring your own laptop so that you can use it to do some editing!
  • Bring pencils as pens are not allowed in the reading rooms.
  • Wear a jumper rather than a jacket - coats and jackets are not allowed in the reading rooms, although there is a cloakroom.

Sign Up

First come, first served! Registration for this event is mandatory, as we need to arrange for visitor passes. The deadline for signing up is 12:00 midday on the 12th January. If you do not want to list your name publicly, please contact me privately.

Please make sure that we can contact you if needs be - enable "email user" in your user settings if you are logged in. If you're only coming for one of the two days, please say so when you sign up. Please also indicate the topics you are interested in so that we can check the availability of the appropriate curators.

The room we have booked can hold up to 20 people, although we can overflow a little into the readers rooms. In the event that there is an over-subscription, members of Wikimedia UK will be given preference.


  1. Mike Peel (both days) - interested specifically in astronomy, but generally in everything.
  2. (both days) - wide interests but lean towards the ancient world, happy to help with templates and other gnomic support.
  3. Johnbod - both days; Illuminated manuscripts; maybe early printed material. Actually articles on Islamic/Indian miniatures really need improving
  4. Andrew Davidson (both days) - especially interested in education and London. Would like to have a go at the King James Bible as this is a FFA and getting a lot of attention currently.
  5. Jan-Bart Friday till lunch
  6. Vernon39 Friday 14:00 - 16:30 19th C Biography, Cornwall
  7. Seddon - Tropical Storms and geology
  8. Rock drum (Saturday only) - I have general interests, but would lean towards medieval history and am more than willing to do gnome-y stuff.
  9. Natkabrown 22:56, 7 January 2011 (UTC) - I am intrested in Archival Sound Recordings, Digitised Manuscripts and Images. Friday and maybe Saturday.
  10. Tango I'll come on Saturday. No specific interests, I'll support other people. -- 16:15, 8 January 2011 (UTC)
  11. Marek69 Friday & Saturday. Interests: Towns & Cities (mainly Europe). 15:51, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
  12. Harrypotter Friday & Saturday Hope to make both days?
  13. Leevanjackson (Fri about 10:15) The history of the libraries collections sounds good - and will chip in on other bits!
  14. Tom Morris 11:43, 12 January 2011 (UTC) — Can help other people or I might do some editing of philosophy stuff.
  15. BrainyBabe (possibly both days) - already have a Reader's Pass
  16. Deryck Chan. Interested in history of British transport infrastructure, although en.wp has amazing articles on them already! Don't have a reader pass yet. (Will this be done by the event or do we have to do it ourselves?) --Deryck Chan 14:18, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
    Extra idea (wasn't there on Friday, will be there on Saturday): will my expertise in translating from English to Chinese be of any use? --Deryck Chan 17:58, 14 January 2011 (UTC)
  17. Anh Dinh. Interested in science in general (particularly computer science) and its impact in society. Also in scientific studies of arts. I can make Saturday. Happy to help around.
  18. Off-wiki attendees: +2 (friday only), +3 (saturday only)
Total confirmed: Friday: 18, Saturday: 16 (+several possibles)

Interested (but not confirmed yet):

  1. LoopZilla 20:52, 30 December 2010 (UTC)
  2. Greg Block, Google engineering is my day job. Will attempt to do both days, but may only be able to do saturday; have yet to apply for reader's pass. &mdash 16:20 5 January 2011 (GMT)
  3. Alex Muller, don’t have a Reader Pass yet —19:38, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
  4. BabelStone. Interested but can't make it; but there are a couple of BL-related articles that I will try to work on from home on Saturday.
  5. bouktin Interested with a guest, not confirmed.
  6. Peter Cohen Might turn up briefly on Friday and for Saturday afternoon. If I do, my current intention is to look for material to progree some of the articles I created on operas whose premieres I saw in the late 20th century towards GA or FA. My attendance depends on how my recovery from the dreaded lurgy is going.


  1. Do I have to register to attend, or can I just arrive on the day?
    You do not have to register, but preference will be given to those who do by signing up on this page.
  2. Is there a minimum number of Wikipedia edits I have to have made to be allowed to attend?
    Of course not. All are welcome - even if you've never edited Wikipedia before. Being "a Wikipedian" is a self-defined thing, so if you call yourself a Wikipedian (or would like to become one) then come along.
  3. Do I have to be a member of Wikimedia UK?
    No, this is open to all - but priority will be given to Wikimedia UK members if we're oversubscribed. However if you would like to join Wikimedia UK and get involved in other projects like this or start your own, you can do so here
  4. Can I bring my camera?
    Yes, but you cannot take photographs in the exhibition areas. If images of any of the objects in the exhibitions would be useful for specific Wikipedia articles, please let User:Mike Peel know - the British Library may be able to provide some images of them.
  5. What about lunch?
    Sandwiches and tea/coffee will be provided, courtesy of the Library. (There is a canteen on-site, and cafes inside and in the courtyard. The library also has a members' room, where it is OK to bring food you've brought yourself.)
  6. Do you have to own/bring a laptop?
    If you want to edit Wikipedia on the day, then you'll need one - the British Library will be providing wireless internet access (see BL:wifi to register in advance), but not computers.
  7. Are there any age limits?
    Not for the main event, but there will be for the pub trip on Friday evening.
  8. What will the nearest (or preferred) reading room be for requests from the catalogue or can items be taken/delivered to the room?
    The nearest reading room will be the Social Sciences Reading Room - you'll be able to get to that easily from the room the event will be in.


Please add the results from the event (or from preparation for the event) below. This is a snapshot, more recent activity such as Did You Know listings can be seen at Wikipedia:GLAM/BL.

  • Miscellaneous
Tables for Saturday
  1. Religion and alcohol. Missing article search.
  2. BL main article translation to other languages - in particular Chinese (http://idp.bl.uk/)
  3. Sound archives
  4. Philately

Editors active during the Editathon

Add yourself below so people can track your edits during the weekend!