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Wednesday, June 16 • 3:15pm - 3:45pm
How Theological Librarians Can Help Change the World: Addressing Knowledge and Gender Gaps in the World's Largest Encyclopedia (On Demand)

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The 1000 Women in Religion Project, a major initiative of the AAR/SBL’s Women’s Caucus, is working to add 1000 biographies about women (broadly defined) to Wikipedia, where only 18% of entries are about women. Knowledge and gender gaps on Wikipedia are well-documented and exist despite the platform’s idealistic early goal of providing “free access to the sum of all human knowledge.” My participation to date has included committee membership and coordinating the Australian contribution to the project, which has been a collaborative initiative under the auspices of the University of Divinity. This paper tells the story of the Australian Women in Religion Project, which is working with a list of 400+ women and associated biographical data. The template developed by the Australian project can now be used as a model for similar projects in other parts of the world. Initially, becoming familiar with Wikipedia and Wikidata was a steep learning curve, as was coming to grips with the platform’s policies around notability, reliability, and conflict of interest. Working collaboratively with an international group has been a valuable experience. There is also the sense of satisfaction gained from working on such a worthwhile project, which, as well as raising up noteworthy women in religion, is a practical way of addressing systemic knowledge and gender bias issues on platforms like Wikipedia. Theological librarians are well-placed to contribute. As well as having subject expertise related to the world’s religious and spiritual traditions, they also understand the importance of accurate metadata, unique identifiers, and other international standards. They are used to working collaboratively, navigating in an online environment, and can identify and accurately cite reliable secondary sources. Because theological librarians have the skills required to access information, conduct independent research, and develop new content, they are encouraged to contribute to the project.

avatar for Kerrie Burn

Kerrie Burn

Library Manager, Mannix Library, University of Divinity
Kerrie has research and publication interests in the areas of Australasian theological libraries, collaborative collection development, library history, and the management of library special collections. She leads the Australian Women in Religion WikiProject, manages the University... Read More →

Wednesday June 16, 2021 3:15pm - 3:45pm CDT