November 29, 2021
Grace Costantino began her career at the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives in 2008 as a Digital Services Intern, working to help develop the Smithsonian Research Online Repository. During her time at Smithsonian, she served as Digital Projects Librarian (2008-2012), BHL Program Manager (2012-2013), and BHL Outreach and Communications Manager (2014-2021). In 2021, she launched her own business Graceful Designs to blend her passion for art, design, writing, books, and nature. (Wikidata Profile: Q56289439)
Yes, it was.
Edit-a-thons are too much effort for the output. To run one you need to create a lot of items:
training materials support (documentation and/or videos)
blog pieces, social media campaigns
+ miscellaneous resources for people to use
Given there are only 2-3 Secretariat members for BHL at any given time, every effort and initiative pursued needs to be strategic and have worthwhile outcomes. Most edit-a-thons are attracting new editors, you don’t get a lot of edits because everyone is just learning therefore, the attrition rate was very high and you didn’t have a lot of return editors to work on your content.
Long story short: it is a huge resource investment to get people to do edits but not a whole lot of content production at the end of the day. BHL can still have more impact on the Wikimedia ecosystem by speaking, consulting at other SLA-hosted edit-a-thons, providing stock introductory material – but perhaps not as organizers of the actual edit-a-thons.
Metrics were based on what was available – there are tools on the wiki backend that collect certain metrics. I used what was available.
Metrics for edit-a-thons were always viewed through the lens of campaign impact – mostly around showing how campaigns improved access to information.
The biggest impact was perhaps the partner participation factor – some folks who can not digitize could contribute via BHL blog, social media, or host events at their own institutions.
Yes, it's a great pathway. Fae developed a script that uploaded BHL images to Wikimedia Commons. I tried to engage Fae with an interview for the BHL Users Series but did not hear back. I believe they were using Flickr’s API as the data source – and would then pull in the tagged content to Wikimedia Commons. BHL doesn’t need to build functionality to upload directly, the script already exists to pull from Flickr.
Yes, look at the metrics tools. See BaGLAMa.
Also another promising tool: the MixNMatch tool for Wikidata. There is potential there. Galvanizing the broader community to use this tool. Build up the resources we have around how BHL could be used and roll that packaged information into conferences, project pages on various Wiki sister sites. Creating a “wiki” package to be reused. But again be mindful, there is no Secretariat capacity for running these edit events.
I think Wikidata is really the project that BHL could benefit from the most and needs to explore further. Wikidata is all about structured data, bringing in identifiers, and disambiguating our data – more easily connecting BHL to other resources on the web.
It helps BHL and it helps our users for their research pathways, particularly around specimen linkages, geographic information, and preparing data for GBIF. Wikidata is going to give us the most impact for our efforts.
The average user is going to Wikipedia but our audience is scientists and informationists and they are mostly likely to be found in the Wikidata community.
Not a strong concrete output or outcome from this grant. The grant algorithms to classify image data had to be reworked by Joel Richard; the images identified by algorithms from BHL did get into Flick eventually.
Science Gossip that came out of Art of Life was a shiny spin-off project but not necessarily long-term sustainable.
BHL’s data is the key. BHL is viewed as a digital library project but it needs to be viewed as a data project (this is the real value of BHL) Extracting the data and enhancing Catalog of Life and GBIF, to inform policy and research. BHL is a bit siloed, and needs to disseminate the data further. There are a lot of funding opportunities in this arena as well. This is the right avenue for BHL.
BHL isn’t just describing new species. There is a lot of data about distribution that is probably not in GBIF. There will be a lot of partners who may balk at the thought of BHL as a data repository but ultimately this is where the impact is.
We need more capacity with a full-time BHL Director and full-time Technical director. BHL needs a highly focussed leadership team that isn’t spread so thin.
Partners are very capacity strapped and relying on them isn’t going to work to help with capacity constraints.
K-12 materials weren’t that helpful to build-out; we should be using Wikipedia as a way to reach K-12 audiences.
Capacity is a funding issue. BHL needs to get creative about how to build-out sustainable capacity through SoWs and other non-traditional methods. BHL does not have a sustainable funding model.
“Although metrics are important, and offer a glimpse into one aspect of these events, the more impactful takeaways from these collaborations were the discussions that attendees had on topics ranging from open content, to information architecture, data storage, content curation, and more. In a sense, these crowd-sourcing edit-a-thons were a salon of sorts, where curious people who are passionate about open information were able to discuss strategies for how to make data more accessible and useful to the public, and work together to find and implement these solutions.”