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Expert Q&A :: Using Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia for history

Q. From IHM: Gillian and Mylee, what are your top tips for using Wikipedia?
A. SLNSW: My top tips … 1) yes it is ok to use Wikipedia as a starting point for research, quite a few librarians do! Always scroll to the bottom of the page and look at the references, these will help to guide you to the books and articles you need. 2) working together is the best way to create great articles in the encyclopedia, we work with public libraries across NSW to create articles about local newspapers (see this example of the Irrigator from Leeton
A. Wikimedia: Regarding top tips, if you want to be a contributor to Wikipedia, contribute to articles on things you know about, including lists of things, such as the Lists of Newspapers that Mylee was talking about. For example, if you a an editor of a regional newspaper or if you are a jury member of a regular prize. Or you can get involved in a Wikiproject about a specific area of interest. Gillian
A. Wikimedia: Another approach is to discover what kind of things you enjoy doing. For example, different people may enjoy:
– writing content
– editing (correcting, updating etc)
– completing or creating infoboxes and other templates
– organising (adding the right categories or links)
– taking high quality encyclopedic photographs that can be used to illustrate articles that you can upload to the media repository (that is Wikimedia Commons). It is all helpful and editing Wikipedia is surprisingly satisfying.

Q. From IHM: Hi Mylee, our friends here are a helpful bunch. Is there anything that you’d like our help with in the future?
A. SLNSW: We would love help from your readers, often it’s people researching family history and writing local histories who discover information about local newspapers. When we create an article it would be great to have people add more information … perhaps you know who the editor was, when they bought a new fangled printing press to town, or the mystery that really intrigues me … why do newspapers change names so frequently in the past? You can see the master list here – blue links will take you to articles in the encyclopedia
A: SLNSW: I worked on an article about a really amazing woman from the Coonabarabran region of NSW, her name was Mary Jane Cain – perhaps someone can help track down a photograph of her to add to the article?
A. Toby: Nice one Mylee! It looks like we need an article about Burra Bee Dee too!
A. Kerry: There is a photo on on the Coonabaragran High School website – could write to the school and ask permission:
A. IHM: Great work Kerry, I’ll let The State Library of New South Wales and Wikimedia Australia know ūüôā

Comment: Wikimedia: If you want to see how Wikipedia has used Inside History as a source for its articles, have a look at these two that relate to the Irish Famine and

Comment: Wikimedia: Here is the article on Dulcie Deamer who you may have seen on the promotions for History Week

Comment: IHM: Please join me in thanking Gillian and Mylee for joining us tonight. The transcript will be posted on our blog this coming week, including all of the links and tips that we may have missed because of Facebook’s issues tonight!
A. Chris: Thanks, everyone, for the very informative answers, and some great questions…
A. Kerry: Ty Gillian and Mylee
A. Linda: All very interesting – thanks Team (having trouble working out how many there are out there) I’ve learned heaps!

More from Mylee and Gillian:

State Library of New South Wales:
The State Library of New South Wales is the oldest public library in Australia, the collections include many of the stories of Australia’s history, including the original inhabitants and European settlement up to the present day. The collections include paintings, objects, maps, over a million photographs, original manuscripts, books, newspapers, oral histories and much, much more.

Mylee Joseph – biography:
Mylee is leading the Innovation Project, piloting new State Library of NSW service offerings, extending the Library’s use of social media tools and developing a model to support and enable sustainable online service innovations. Mylee’s background includes providing consultancy support and advice to local government in NSW on all aspects of operating public libraries and monitoring trends in the library industry in the Public Library Services team at State Library of NSW. Before joining the State Library team, Mylee worked in public libraries in Sydney and Wagga Wagga.

Gillian White [] – biography: is a member of Wikimedia Australia and a recent Wikipedian-in-Residence at the State Library of New South Wales. She has an ongoing passion for History and Fine Art and a university degree in each. Her working life has been in education, which is why she enjoys editing Wikipedia, where as her userpage says, she can ‚Äúlearn and contribute‚ÄĚ at the same time. She loves learning and helping others to learn which is another reason she likes working with Wikipedia as well as with libraries and writers.

The State Library of NSW Wikipedia Project page:

Where can people get images to use in blog posts, websites and publications?

What are some of Wikipedia’s policies regarding content?

What are some recommended Wikipedia articles?

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