Wikimedian in Residence for the National Library of Scotland | 7/31/2014
Early in the residency, much of my time was spent educating staff members about the possibilities that working with Wikimedia and releasing content on open licenses would offer the Library. In the first two months of the project, I had meetings with several key teams in the Library, including curators working with rare books, manuscripts, maps, modern collections, international collections, and the Scottish Screen Archives. I also met with the Ingest Managers, the Collection and Interpretation Managers, and the Education and Outreach team. All told, these discussions reached approximately 50 members of staff, while additional events like the Wiki & Biccy session and a 'Can You Beat Wikipedia?' table at the Library’s MacMillan Coffee Morning, reached a further 15-20 staff members. The meetings were aimed at increasing awareness of the benefits of collaborating with Wikimedia, but were equally focused on getting feedback from members of staff across the Library regarding any concerns or scepticism they may have.
During this time I also produced a 30 page information booklet designed to present NLS staff members with a succinct and easily accessible reference guide to contributing to Wikipedia, working with open licenses, and working with Wikimedia Projects more widely. This booklet was later revised to suit a wider audience of GLAM staff and volunteers, and was made publicly available and editable on Commons and on the GLAM-Wiki bookshelf.
While responses to the collaboration were generally positive throughout the Library, the results of this educational campaign took some time to manifest. Despite an initial perception amongst NLS managerial staff that a Wikimedia compatible open access policy for digital content would take several years to be realised, a proposed Metadata and Digital Content Licensing Policy was drafted, discussed, and approved over a period of approximately 8 months, coming into effect in April 2014. The policy itself also represents an incredible step on the Library’s part towards committing itself to open access.
Metadata and Digital Content Licensing Policy
The new National Library of Scotland Metadata and Digital Content Licensing Policy effectively laid out the following terms:
- All metadata produced by the National Library of Scotland would be made freely available under a CC-0 license
- All access-quality digital content derived from material currently in the public domain would be released under a CC-0 license
- For the time being, master quality versions (see note) would be retained by the Library to be released on a case-by-case basis for income generation
While the procedure supporting this policy is still undergoing development, and is likely to take an additional year, the policy means that future content generated by NLS digitisation projects which comes from the public domain will also be released onto an open license and made Wiki-compatible.
In early June 2014, the first batches of content were uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. Photos from the construction of the Forth Bridge and the Tay Bridge disaster were the first to be uploaded, followed by sketches of locations around
- The policy initially referred to 'low-resolution' and 'high-resolution' content; however, what was meant by 'low-resolution content' or 'high-resolution content' was deliberately left undefined. This not only allowed for freedom to respond to content specific variations (between media file types, for example), but also allowed for more freedom with respects to the sizes of files to be released; as the procedure implementing the policy developed, 'low-res' and 'high-res' were replaced with 'access quality' and 'original' or 'master quality'.