Ask A Librarian: How to get started adding citations to Wikipedia

It is fine if you don’t like Wikipedia. I do, despite its shortcomings. An easy way to get started, if it’s the sort of thing you’d like to try, is by adding citations which is a kind of natural librarian thing. I wrote an email to an online friend spelling out ways to get started. There are a few helpful tools and some “good to know” stuff. Adding citations can be a good way to get started and has maybe three steps

    1. Find something that needs a citation
    2. Find a citation for that thing
    3. Format and insert that citation (and add a note, and then if there are no more cites needed, remote the “citation needed” banner)

Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: How to get started adding citations to Wikipedia”

Ask A Librarian: setting up a WP site accessibly?

image which is itself showing a stock image with the HTML code for alt text and then arrows from it point to three different "use cases" underneath: screen readers, search engines and broken images.
Image by: Seobility – License: CC BY-SA 4.0

I was talking to a woman on Twitter about this but it was worth re-stating st length. Building in website accessibility from the get-go is much better–both in terms of hassle factor and in terms of outcomes–than bolting it on after the fact. If you’re building a small library website using WordPress, here are some resources for you. Here’s a nice starter page that talks about some considerations. Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: setting up a WP site accessibly?”

Rest in Power John Lewis

When John Lewis was sixteen, in 1956, he couldn’t get a library card because the public library in Troy, Alabama was for white people only under racist segregation laws. He died yesterday, just to put a point on what “in living memory” means for people of color in the US who were denied access to library services. And in some ways, library services in the US are still unequal, whether it’s because of underfunded libraries in poorer areas, the menacing specter of police and cameras in libraries making some patrons feel unwelcome, or flat out racist behavior by library staff, boards, and other patrons. It’s on us to do the work, getting into what John Lewis called “good trouble,” to undo the harm that this legacy of racism has done to our communities.

For people who would like a little outside-the-usual reading on this topic, I’d suggest learning about the Faith Cabin Library system, set up in South Carolina and Georgia so that Black children could have access to libraries that was otherwise denied to them. I wrote that article. Someone had to.

Ask A Librarian: What is the deal with “free” ebook sites?

screenshot of a page from the bookshowing two girls looking at a computer screen which says WIN PRIZES

It’s been an odd set of months. I got busy with Drop-In Time and then very un-busy. I’ve been keeping up with my newsletter a little, and doing email Drop-in Time, public awareness stuff on various mailing lists, keeping my ear to the ground. Still acting as a Qualifying Authority for the Internet Archive’s print-disabled program which got a LOT more visible thanks to the National Emergency Library. And so it was natural that someone would ask me about this. Got any questions, feel free to drop me a note. This question was a little longer, but a brief summary is a librarian question: “patrons who were asking about “free” ebook sites, ranging from OpenLibrary to ZLibrary. Are they safe? Legal? Should we even mention them to our patrons?” My response, which comes from my very particular place…

Hey there — thanks for asking. I do know a lot of these sites and I used to work for Open Library. My feelings on this topic are kind of complex, so I’ll just outline what I know. Sorry this is long!

So there are outright “We pirate stuff’ sites like Mobilism and ZLibrary. These are places that are basically set up to pirate things and have no veneer of legality to them. I have personally used them on rare occasions but I don’t think I’d point a patron to them. They often point people to sketchy download sites where it it incredibly easy to pick up viruses and etc. Though I must note the sites themselves do not have viruses or malware to the best of my knowledge. Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: What is the deal with “free” ebook sites?”

Our Library Associations

a bunch of women in victorian era dresses standing around some travelling libraries

I’ve been spending some of the wintertime outlasting the blues and making sure that Wikipedia’s got entries for every state library association. It mostly didn’t, now it mostly does. I really should have been writing this post as I went, but blogging is different from making little stubs from templates. My process was straightforward:

  • Start with a bare-bones template
  • Check library association website for an “Our History” section
  • Check old Library Journals on the Internet Archive (keyword searchable)
  • Check Hathi Trust for publications BY the association
  • Check Guidestar for incorporation information
  • Read a few newsletters
  • Upload a small version of the logo
  • Add some fun details if there are any
  • PUBLISH

I am lucky that at some point I got “auto-patrolled” status, so my Wikipedia articles don’t have to get cleared by someone before they go live. If I can use this to help you, do let me know. A few things I’ve learned along the way… Continue reading “Our Library Associations”