Wikipedia, the world’s free online encyclopedia that’s created, edited, and verified by people around the world, is an important source of fact-based knowledge for researchers and the public. It’s an especially important resource during times of crisis and uncertainty, when people are increasingly looking online for trustworthy, unbiased, and up-to-date information.
Wikipedia strives to represent the full, rich diversity of all humanity. However, while everyone is encouraged to contribute to the encyclopedia, only a relatively small percentage of contributors are from Africa. This results in gaps in the online knowledge available about Africa and its people and stories. African people are the best to tell these stories, as they can truly capture the nuances of their own cultures, languages, heroes/heroines, philosophies of life, discoveries, innovations, pop culture and more. This under-representation in Wikipedia means that the global public sees misrepresentation of African voices (including eminent scholars and literati) and other information, which leaves stories about Africa mostly told by non-Africans who do not fully understand the diversity and context of who we are.
African librarians are custodians of information, key players in knowledge creation and dissemination. They are uniquely positioned to help bridge this knowledge gap by creating, editing, and adding references or citations on African content on Wikipedia. It’s with this in mind that, AfLIA, the unifying platform for the African library field, is partnering with the Wikimedia Foundation and librarians across Africa to ensure that Wikipedia has relevant and accurate content about Africa.
The African Librarians Week is a new outreach initiative by AfLIA, in collaboration with Wikimedia, to engage library communities to help fill key gaps in African content on Wikipedia by adding content and missing references to articles about Africa on the online encyclopedia.
The inaugural African Librarians Week will take place from 24th – 30th May 2020, with the theme; “Promoting African Scholars to the World.” The all-virtual campaign coincides with the African Union Day (25 May 2020), and will be used to bring participation to the “One Librarian, One Reference” (#1Lib1Ref) campaign across Africa. We invite African librarians to update articles about Africa and African scholars in all disciplines with citations, references and further readings. The campaign will also help ensure that Wikipedia’s global audience can continue to learn from Africa’s rich history, culture, and people on Wikipedia and highlight the role of librarians across Africa in providing access to knowledge.
Help spread the campaign on social media with the hashtags #1Lib1Ref and #AfLibWk.
All librarians from national libraries, academic and special libraries, public and community libraries, school libraries as well as LIS institutions in Africa are eligible and invited to join us as we improve the narrative of Africa and African scholars in Wikipedia.
There will be recognition and certificate awards granted to the top 50 participating librarians, while the top five contributors will receive prizes during the 2021 AfLIA Conference in Accra.