Vatican library and Bodleian library July 2015

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This was a 2½ hour workshop led by Martin Poulter in his capacity as Wikimedian In Residence at the Bodelian Libraries. It was hosted by Oxford University's Social Science Library on 7 July 2015.

The attendees were three staff from the Vatican Library and four from Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services in Oxford University: six women and one man. A lot of them were in one way or another responsible for collections of digital material, and a purpose of the event was to get them thinking about Wikipedia and Wikimedia as platforms for sharing content.

They were given an overview presentation, covering content-sharing on Commons, book transcription on Wikisource, and Wikidata with demonstrations and exploration. We then explored basic Wikipedia editing and made some test edits in user space. It wasn't an editathon with target articles: the aim was more to show them "under the bonnet" and show that they could get changes made if they wanted. Each participant was given an Editing Wikipedia booklet, a wiki code cheat sheet and a "prescription pad" from which to request follow-up activities.


Responses marked with † ticked the box saying they would prefer their comments not be used in future Wikimedia UK publicity.

Please rate the quality of the following.
  • The workshop in general: mean 4.6 (all put 4 or 5)
  • Content: mean 4.4 (all put 4 or 5)
  • Trainers: mean 4.6 (all put 4 or 5)
  • Materials available: 2 put "n/a"; of the remaining five, all put 4 of 5; mean 4.2
  • Your confidence to edit Wikipedia: mean: 3.9 (five put 4 or 5)
  • Your understanding of Wikipedia: mean 4.4 (six put 4 or 5)

Freetext comment: Why the emphasis on editing?

How likely are you to continue editing Wikipedia?

4 x "somewhat likely", 1 x "unsure" 2 x "somewhat unlikely"
One freetext comment: "I need to learn more"

Please write three words/expressions which describe this workshop for you.
  • interesting; possibly too basic/slow; hands-on
  • very interesting; stimulating; entertaining
  • interesting; helpful; promotion
  • clear; positive; well-connected
  • useful; interesting; informative†
  • useful; new; interesting†
  • useful for beginners; trainer excellent; useful for my understanding of Wikipedia†
Tell us at least one thing that would have improved this workshop for you.
  • Power point documentation†
  • more focus on the client's needs†
  • the basics of Wikipedia (I am totally newbie!)†
  • Faster pace, more discussion of the Wikimedia projects/ developments
  • (3 blank)
Further comments
  • It was great
  • I don't see the Vatican people editing Wiki, although Martin is certainly enthusiastic about it.
  • (5 blank)


  • After discussing Wikisource, there was a hands-on session where I invited people to look for an author they are interested in, and see how much of their work was on Wikisource. In most cases there were quite extensive collections, even with obscure-ish authors.
  • I ended with an extended slot for people to explore possible edits, and by handing out the list of ways to collaborate. Since this wasn't really a training session but about possible collaboration, it would have been much better to end with a discussion of what the Vatican Library are trying to achieve with their content and how the different platforms I'd been talking about could help with those goals.
  • To talk about the culture of Wikipedia, I used a short version of the "Is/ Is Not" exercise. It would have been better to discuss the Five Pillars or to discuss in depth what it means to be "free" and to be an "encyclopedia". This would have answered the need from some in the audience for a very basic overview of Wikipedia.
  • Given that some in the audience were very unconfident in their understanding of Wikipedia, it might have made a better opening to discuss the term "wiki" - do they know where it comes from, do they understand that Wikimedia isn't Wikileaks, and so on.
  • At least one of the audience felt it was too slow and simple. This happens when the trainer goes slowly to make sure
  • Once again I used Recent changes (click the button, wait a bit, click it again) to show the rate of edits to English Wikipedia: this time there were nearly fifty edits in the interval, so it actually took a while to scroll through- not a quick and elegant illustration. This demonstration needs the interval to be several seconds and not too long.
  • I only found out at the end that one of the attendees wasn't editing and hadn't created an account: his interest was in understanding Wikipedia but not editing it. If I'd had a supporting trainer I would have had this feedback much sooner, but still, d'oh.