You Can Make Wikipedia Better (With a Little Help From the Library)

With more than 6.3 million articles in English – a number rising by almost 600 a day – and some 22 million monthly page views, Wikipedia has grown over a couple of decades into an online behemoth.

It can use a little help.

As part of a groundbreaking effort to improve the content of the crowdsourcing encyclopedia, particularly where it focuses on people, places, and things related to Kansas City and the surrounding area, the Library is planning a series of community activities to be led by the first public library-based Wikipedian in Residence in the country.

Miranda Pratt joined the Kansas City Public Library in June. The new position is an outgrowth of Library engagement with Wikipedia dating to its first involvement in a community edit-a-thon, in which people gather in person or online to build content, in 2018.

“They will do things like contributing to articles relevant to Kansas City, with an emphasis on topics or people who are underrepresented or overlooked,” says Kim Gile, the Library’s community specialists leader. “They will also host edit-a-thons, add citations, establish a group of editors locally, and more.” 


Attendees at a Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon event in 2018 at the Jazz Museum focused  research efforts on Kansas City's jazz history.


Source materials and other research items used during the edit-a-thon.

Leading off was a Wikipedia 101 workshop on July 30. A second, set for noon on Friday, August 20, will focus on creating an account and editing articles. You can RSVP here.

Wikipedia 101
Friday, August 20, 2021  |  Noon
Online event


The virtual events are open to anyone wanting to delve a little more deeply into Wikipedia – how it works and how to contribute, as well as going over the benefits of open-access information online. No previous Wiki experience is necessary.

“My goals with the classes are for them to be fun, interactive, and unintimidating,” Pratt says.

Wikipedia is one of the 10 most visited websites in the world, but fewer than 20% of its biographies feature women and fewer still highlight women of color and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Pratt will work to expand their presence on the site and amplify the stories of compelling but underrepresented individuals, institutions, and events through personal editing and by inspiring others to join in edit-a-thons.

There’s logic to the Library’s involvement with Wikipedia and its various platforms. Their missions align. Both are committed to informing the public through freely accessible information from multiple perspectives. Both are interested in improving the access and quality of that information. And both are invested in public discourse and the transparency of ideas and processes.

The Library can draw from its many curated collections in contributing to the Wikipedia cause. 

“We look to become a national leader in how public libraries can embrace wiki to bolster the impact of their collections and teach information literacy in today’s dynamic multimedia landscape,” says Gile, who oversees the Library’s Community Reference team. 

The Wikipedian in Residence position is underwritten by a one-year grant from the W.T. Kemper Foundation.