Update: It’s official. UNC takes the title in the 2017 #1Lib1Ref Wikipedia citation battle!
When UNC met Duke this month, the venue was not the floorboards of the Dean Dome or the Kenan Stadium gridiron.
Instead, Tar Heel and Blue Devil librarians have been going head-to-head in tough competition that lasts until February 3. The objective of the contest? To be the library that contributes more citations to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
The showdown between the information powerhouses is part of Wikipedia’s #1Lib1Ref (“One Librarian One Reference”) project.
Wikipedia is the most consulted online reference work around, says UNC librarian Emily Jack, who is coordinating the Tar Heels’ offense. Yet many Wikipedia articles lack authoritative citations to reliable sources.
#1Lib1Ref is an international effort to make Wikipedia better by harnessing the collective research know-how of those who know research best. “You won’t find anyone more qualified to fill those gaps than library professionals,” says Jack.
Coming on strong, UNC Library staff members have already racked up more than 100 citations on topics as diverse as the Amazon rubber boom, Dan Aykroyd, the demographics of Paraguay, electromagnetic radiation, and pistachios. And they show no signs of slowing down.
“You might know our starters from seeing them at the help desk, but we’ve also got a deep bench of seasoned pros from across the library system,” says Jack. “Plus, we’ve got some highly impressive rookies in our student workers and graduate assistants. This team has unbelievable chemistry.”
Although this match-up is only for those who work in the libraries, a series of public Wikipedia “edit-a-thons” will take place in UNC campus libraries during March. They will give everyone the opportunity to brush up on research skills and learn how to edit the online encyclopedia.
For now, Jack is keeping her team focused on the prize at hand.
“We’re taking it one reference at a time, but we are definitely bringing our A game” she says.
A victory would be sweet, indeed: The losing library must sing the winner’s praises on social media for a day.
Photograph by Aleah Howell