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What’s it like to be a Wikipedian-in-Residence?

By Lori Byrd Phillips, Intern and Wikipedian-in-Residence

Backstage Pass Tour

A group of Wikipedia editors and contributors came to The Children's Museum for a Backstage Pass Tour of the museum.

I’m very excited to be interning at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis as the first ever Wikipedian-in-Residence. In fact, I’m only the second person in the world to hold such a title! But what does it mean? And what do I do? You might recall that we heard from Liam Wyatt, the British Museum’s Wikipedian-in-Residence, when he visited The Children’s Museum back in November. In that blog post  Liam describes how The Children’s Museum is one of only a few museums collaborating with Wikipedia to share their resources with a large, online audience. It’s my job to help make that happen.

My Wikipedian-in-Residence title is kind of funny, isn’t it? A lot of the staff here at the museum didn’t quite understand it at first. They were intrigued by what it might mean to have a Wikipedian working alongside them. The first thing they learned is that Wikipedians don’t have two heads. We’re just like the rest of you! It’s just that instead of only reading Wikipedia articles we also edit and update articles to keep them as accurate as possible. (You can do it too, it’s actually pretty easy!)

But while I do edit Wikipedia articles, that is not exactly what I’m doing at The Children’s Museum. Instead, I’m working with staff to find helpful images, research, and other resources that can be shared on Wikipedia. Then I will collaborate with other Wikipedians from around the world to update articles with those resources. Another big part of my job is meeting with the museum staff, vice presidents, directors, and even Dr. Patchen, to explain Wikipedia, the project, and how it can help make The Children’s Museum resources more accessible. Having the chance to get to know so many people from all over the museum is extremely valuable. I’m incredibly thankful for this opportunity in particular.

Now that the staff more fully understand my role as the Wikipedian-in-Residence I have been thrilled to see the excitement build. You’ll notice that some staff proudly wear Wikipedia buttons on their lanyards (keep your eye out... the Wikipedia buttons are rare!)  I’m looking forward to continuing my internship through the spring. There are a lot of Wikipedia-related surprises in store, so get ready!

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