Annual Report 2023/Story: GLAM Collaborations that Go Beyond Bulk Uploads

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Det här är en översatt version av sidan Verksamhetsberättelse 2023/Story: GLAM-samarbeten som går längre än en massuppladdning. Översättningen är till 100 % färdig och uppdaterad.

In this story, we share insights into our profound collaborations with cultural heritage institutions that extend beyond the primary focus of uploading their material or conducting limited educational initiatives. By carrying out joint projects we focus on supporting them in their efforts to better understand and engage with the Wikimedia platforms. This generates long-term effects as the staff members serve as ambassadors for free knowledge, utilizing Wikimedia platforms as tools to reach the public and engage them through crowdsourcing. By making use of the powerful software to connect material and knowledge from various sources, new insights are reached, and existing knowledge is enriched.

In collaboration with the National Historical Museums and Nationalmuseum, we explored how cultural heritage data on the Wikimedia platforms can be visualized to create new and compelling information.

The past year has been characterized by intensive collaborations with Swedish GLAM institutions. We are very excited about this, as it enables more people to access the treasures administered by our museums, libraries, and archives. Working with openly licensed cultural heritage material is at the core of Wikimedia Sweden's efforts. A common procedure involves a museum seeking help in uploading image material to Wikimedia Commons or data to Wikidata. However, over the past few years, we have seen an interesting development in how cultural heritage institutions perceive Wikimedia platforms. They are interested in doing more than occasional uploading initiatives. They are increasingly curious about how they can contribute to the free knowledge ecosystem in a long-term and sustainable way, further develop their own expertise, and learn from one another. This is something we are very excited about — as a small association, our resources are limited, and we are also not subject-matter experts. We share our expertise on how the Wikimedia platforms operate, which technical tools are available and how they can be utilized, and how to navigate the culture and practice of the platforms. However, it is when cultural heritage experts themselves take the initiative that genuinely exciting and innovative ideas are hatched and implemented.

During 2023, we worked on two major projects that were unique in that our GLAM partners took significant responsibility and were instrumental in both design and implementation. The first, Wikidata for Authority Control, was a three-year project funded by the Swedish National Heritage Board. The National Museum and the National Historical Museums collaborated on their authority data, exploring Wikidata's potential as a hub for cultural heritage data. Our role was to teach the basics — from what Wikidata truly is to how to use uploader tools like OpenRefine and extract data using the SPARQL query language — as well as providing guidance and advice throughout the entire project. Being able to follow the project team over the three years and witnessing them become more and more confident and active Wikimedians was incredibly rewarding. One of the goals of the project was to help them evolve into ambassadors capable of sharing their knowledge and experiences with their colleagues. Together, we co-authored a conference paper on the process of a museum deciding to start working with Wikidata. Additionally, we produced a sample of instruction videos where we go through our work with Wikidata and OpenRefine. These are tangible products of our efforts that can now be utilized by other GLAM institutions aiming to enhance their Wikidata proficiency. We hope that this documentation helps others to develop and implement their own ideas.

Thanks to the Wikimedia community we now know that this picture depicts Skanskvarn in Stockholm.

The second project that must be mentioned is 100 000 Bildminnen, a collaboration with the Nordic Museum. The museum conducted a significant digitalisation effort of previously unpublished photo collections from their archives. The images were captured by several renowned photographers and depict subjects from both Sweden and other countries — industries, cityscapes, and people. Unfortunately, many of them come with very little information, we know when and in which city or industry they were taken, but not much more. For example, there are many pictures of beautiful buildings in Stockholm, but which buildings exactly? Together with countless cars and airplanes where we don't know their names.

A car in nature. We know that it is a BMW 02 Series thanks to a volunteer who added the image to the correct category.

How fortunate that the Wikimedia platforms exist, the best place where volunteers from around the world come together to share their expertise. Someone is surely able to identify an old Stockholm image, while another is an expert on warplanes. The Nordic Museum chose to leverage this opportunity in a two-step process. First, a selection of images is uploaded to Wikimedia Commons so that the community has the opportunity to improve their descriptions and categorizations. Later, the enhancements made by the volunteers are downloaded to be imported into the museum's own systems. Everyone benefits from this: volunteers gain access to new, unique images to illustrate Wikipedia articles or reuse in other ways, and the museum gains access to the help and knowledge of the volunteers.

These innovative collaborations demonstrate that cultural heritage institutions can do much more with Wikimedia platforms than simply uploading a collection of images on a single occasion. Long-term, strategic projects lay the foundation for exciting events, for instance, as seen in the Bildminnen project. One such event was a writing workshop in collaboration with the Swedish Air Force Museum focusing on the images from the aircraft manufacturer SAAB. The workshop attracted several experts, including former SAAB employees, who not only could identify the subjects in the pictures but even themselves!

This year's collaborative projects have hopefully planted a seed in Sweden's cultural heritage sector for a more active engagement on Wikimedia platforms. We can already see this happening; for instance, the Museum of Norrbotten was inspired by the Authority Data project, and in 2024 we will collaborate to enhance their Wikidata competence. Who knows where this will lead?