Intuiting Wikipedia’s growing clout on the web, in 2012 Chris Freeland, BHL’s former Technical Director decided to run an experiment to seed BHL links in Wikipedia and measure any difference in traffic on those seeded links. His experiment confirmed that seeded links in Wikipedia grow BHL’s user traffic. (Freeland, 2012). For BHL staff, this began to illume the idea that the open access journey does not end with digitization but rather it marks the beginning. To truly have an impact on the broader web, content can not stay siloed in BHL’s databases.
Growing access into reuse; BHL’s data journey extends beyond its databases and Wikipedia is a pathway to the broader web. Image: (Dearborn & Kalfatovic, 2022)
Continuing with Freeland’s findings, Grace Costantino, BHL’s former Communications Manager, spearheaded content-creation efforts in Wikipedia through multifaceted campaign strategies produced in collaboration with BHL’s global partners to further BHL’s strategic objectives to fill knowledge gaps. Themes included species conservation, surfacing women in science, and exposing natural history collections as data for global consumption.
To expose women in science, Grace found an enthusiastic Wikimedia ally in Siobhan Leachman, who was one of many who contributed to and helped coordinate the Wikipedia elements of sophisticated campaigns to raise the notability of women in science on the web. These Her Natural History campaigns have been incredibly successful, employing such tactics as:
Persistent identifier generation
Scholarly blogs by BHL partner staff
Finding and adding images to Flickr of women in the BHL corpus
Campaign promotion through social media channels
New data points generated by BHL staff for these campaigns in the form of identifiers and blogs, would coalesce into a single Wikidata item for each woman. Once a Wikidata item is established, it provides the requisite notability criteria and source material from which a Wikipedia article can be written (Leachman, 2019). In terms of workflow, Wikidata establishes “facts” (i.e. referenced claims) and Wikipedia delivers them for human consumption. Siobhan’s workflows serve as models that could be adopted for other underrepresented groups.