Wikimania 2023 Session Highlight: Navigating the Wikipedia Library 

Ever wanted to find journals, books, or news articles to use while editing Wikipedia and been blocked by a paywall? It’s a common occurrence given that, according to one 2018 study, only 28% of scholarly literature is Open Access (Piwowar et al., 2018). For Wikipedians looking for reliable sources to use, these paywalls can be incredibly problematic. However, as I learned at a Wikimania 2023 session, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has a solution! The Wikipedia Library.

The Wikipedia Library is a hub for Wikipedia editors to access information resources that are hidden behind paywalls. The Library also offers a platform for editors to request resources from other editors called the Resource Exchange. Various publishers partner with the Wikimedia Foundation to provide access to their subscription-only databases at no cost. Content is available in 33 languages from SAGE Journals, JSTOR, Cochrane Library, Newspaper Archive, and many more. Users are also able to suggest pay-walled collections to the Library so the administrators can initiate new partnerships with the publishers of those collections.

Sam Walton, Senior Product Manager at the WMF, Martin Rulsch, Project Manager, Communities & Engagement at Wikimedia Deutschland, and Vipin SJ, Senior Partnerships Manager at WMF presented this fantastic session. An important point they discussed involved limitations on user eligibility for the Wikipedia Library. Due to agreements made with the publishers, editors must continually meet the following four criteria to have automatic access to the Library:

– Have an account for at least six months
– Have made 500+ edits 
– Have no active blocks
– Make at least ten edits in the last 30 days

Many of the collections offered through the Wikipedia Library are available right away once an editor has gained access to the library. However, some collections are limited to a certain number of concurrent users and require editors to fill out an application requesting access.

One area of the Library the presenters identified for improvement is its language representation. Wikimedians can help by translating the Wikipedia Library platform, the Metawiki project page, and the Wikipedia Library newsletter, Book & Bytes, from English. Other ways users can support this platform include advertising the Library to local community user groups, adding information about the Library to a local project page, and even becoming an official contact for partner publishers in your region.

Reliable news sources I need for the Wikipedia article I’m currently writing are often hidden behind paywalls. Prior to completing my graduate studies this year, I had access to my university’s extensive library collection. I no longer have access to those resources from my alma mater but I do have access to them through the Wikipedia Library. Funny enough, I met the eligibility criteria the same day I attended Sam, Martin, and Vipin’s session and learned that the Wikipedia Library existed. This was one of many informative talks and workshops I was able to participate in during Wikimania 2023. Attending this conference was an incredible opportunity and I look forward to using the multitude of skills and resources I learned about to support my journey as a Wikimedian.

Chelsea Chiovelli – recipient of a scholarship from Wikimedia Canada for Wikimania 2023


Piwowar, H., Priem, J., Larviere, V., Alperin, J.P., Matthias, L., Norlander, B., Farley, A., West, J., Haustein, S. (2018). The state of OA: A large-scale analysis of the prevalence and impact of Open Access articles. PeerJ 6:e4375.

Photo credit: TWL owl with text (horizontal) – Heatherawalls – CC BY SA 4.0