Projekt:FindingGLAMs 2018/Wikimedia collaboration with UNESCO Archives

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Wikimedia collaboration with UNESCO Archives


Cooperation between UNESCO archives and Wikipedia has many possibilities and benefits including:

  • Sharing archive content with a worldwide audience on Wikipedia in many languages.
  • Enriching the UNESCO archive website with contextual information from Wikipedia and external databases.
  • Creating links from Wikipedia to the UNESCO archive.

This work requires that the archive content is available under UNESCO's standard Open Access license (CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO).


UNESCO archive digitisation project

Background on the UNESCO archives digitisation project can be found here. There are an estimated 170,000 photos, negatives and slides in the photo collection, 5000 will be digitised as part of the current digitisation project.

About Wikimedia

Wikimedia is a global project whose mission is to make the sum of human knowledge freely available to all; it does this through websites including:

  • Wikipedia is an encyclopedia in over 300 languages which is used by 500 million people each month who view 15 billion pages. It is created by a volunteer community of around 100,000 people and supported by organisations in many countries.
  • Wikidata is a database which provides facts on over 50 million subjects. It is used by Wikipedia and services including Siri, Google Search and Google Assistant to answer questions. It links knowledge from many sources together by storing links for subjects from 1000’s of external databases.
  • Wikimedia Commons is the media repository for Wikipedia. It includes over 50 million Open Access photographs, diagrams, maps, videos, animations, music, sounds, spoken texts, and other free media, all of which can be freely re-used outside the Wikimedia projects.
  • Wikisource is a multilingual project to archive, transcribe and translate collections of free and open license texts.

Current cooperation between UNESCO and Wikimedia

John Cummings has been working as Wikimedian in Residence at UNESCO for the past three years. He has worked on several projects including:

  • Currently sharing around 3000 images from UNESCO photo archive, graphics from publications which receive around 11 million page views per month on Wikipedia.
  • Text from UNESCO publications has been added to 260 English Wikipedia articles which receive 4.5 million page views per month.
  • UNESCO, Wikimedia Sverige and Wikimedia Italia produced a photography exhibition on cultural heritage at risk, displayed at UNESCO HQ, United Nations Office at Geneva and 10 other locations in Europe and North America.
  • The Wiki4Women event was held at UNESCO headquarters on International Women’s Day 2018 to bring attention to the gender gap on Wikipedia, over 200 people attended the event including the Director General of UNESCO and ambassadors of several countries.
  • Working with UN agencies to help them adopt Open Access, including a workshop on implementing Open Access and Open Data.
  • Promoting Wikimedia Open Access photography competitions to over 11 million followers on intangible, built and natural heritage (Wiki Loves Africa, Wiki Loves Monuments and Wiki Loves Earth).

Examples of cooperation between Wikimedia and archives



All content uploaded to Wikimedia must be available under an Open Access license like the standard UNESCO Open Access license (CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO). Wikimedia does not accept content with non commercial or no derivatives requirements.


The images in the UNESCO archive collection need to have metadata before they can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Archives plans to run a crowdsourcing transcription project in early 2019 for the images. Wikisource is a Wikimedia project that holds and transcribes documents like the IICI documents.


Wikimedia Sverige can assist with transfer of content from UNESCO to Wikimedia Commons from now until September 2019. Archive staff time will be needed to ensure the content, its metadata and the UNESCO repository API are well understood.


Share content from the archive on Wikimedia Commons

Upload photographs, audio, video and scans from the archive to Wikimedia Commons.

  • Example: 2,000 images from the UNESCO photobank, WHC photo archive and graphs from publications have been shared on Wikimedia Commons, they currently receive 11 million page views per month.

Shorter clips can be made from long audio and video files and added to Wikipedia articles on relevant subjects

Almost all metadata should be included in the upload including UNESCO ID number.

Encourage use of UNESCO archive materials on Wikipedia

Once the content is available on Wikimedia Commons UNESCO can run competitions to encourage the content to be on Wikipedia. Prizes for competitions do not have to be expensive but it is very helpful to offer prizes which cannot be bought e.g books on UNESCO history signed by the DG.

Enrich the UNESCO online archive with contextual information from Wikipedia and external databases

Wikidata holds structured data on subjects including

  • Links to Wikipedia articles on each subject
  • Links to external databases for each concept

Information could be added to Wikidata and then reused on the archive website linking to further information on people, places, events and other topics described in the archive material.

Reporting and metrics

Reports for UNESCO archive content on Wikimedia projects including languages and page views will be possible

Pilot project

Upload a group of photos, videos and IICI documents to Wikimedia Commons to outline the process of changing the license and uploading the files.

  1. Chose which content to upload
  2. Change the license of the content
  3. Transcribe the captions of the photographs
  4. Upload the content
  5. Encourage Wikipedia volunteers to reuse the content in Wikipedia articles
  6. Encourage Wikisource volunteers to transcribe the IICI documents.

John can upload the content to Wikimedia, he needs:

  • The files without watermarks (Wikimedia does not accept watermarked content)
  • Available metadata including links to the web pages for the documents.