First Monday

Librarians as Wikimedia Movement Organizers in Spain: An interpretive inquiry exploring activities and motivations by Laurie M. Bridges and Clara Llebot



Abstract
How do librarians in Spain engage with Wikipedia (and Wikidata, Wikisource, and other Wikipedia sister projects) as Wikimedia Movement Organizers? And, what motivates them to do so? This article reports on findings from 14 interviews with 18 librarians. The librarians interviewed were multilingual and contributed to Wikimedia projects in Castilian (commonly referred to as Spanish), Catalan, Basque, English, and other European languages. They reported planning and running Wikipedia events, developing partnerships with local Wikimedia chapters, motivating citizens to upload photos to Wikimedia Commons, identifying gaps in Wikipedia content and filling those gaps, transcribing historic documents and adding them to Wikisource, and contributing data to Wikidata. Most were motivated by their desire to preserve and promote regional languages and culture, and a commitment to open access and open education.

Contents

Introduction
Literature review
Methodology
Findings
Concluding discussion

 


 

Introduction

This research started with an informal conversation in 2018 about the popularity of Catalan Wikipedia, Viquipèdia, between two library coworkers in the United States, the authors of this article. Our conversation began with a sense of wonder about Catalan Wikipedia, which is ranked twentieth by number of articles, out of 300 different language Wikipedias (Meta contributors, 2020). We each brought a unique perspective to the conversation — Laurie Bridges was just beginning to work more with Wikipedia as a librarian and instructor and Clara Llebot Lorente was raised in Barcelona and is Catalan.

During our initial conversation Llebot Lorente talked about her reliance on Catalan Wikipedia as she transitioned to the United States as an international student and eventually settled as a resident. She mentioned using Catalan, Spanish, and English Wikipedia as a means to translate and understand U.S. cultural context. As we continued our conversation about Wikipedia in Catalonia, we began discussing Wikipedia use in Spain more broadly and eventually began talking about librarians in Spain and their role in the popularity of the platform in the languages of Spain. Finally, we found ourselves returning to two basic questions, “How are librarians in Spain applying Wikipedia (or its sister projects) in their library work?” and “What motivates librarians in Spain to engage with Wikipedia (as an educational tool)?” We decided to pursue this line of inquiry as a study in order to answer our own questions, but also to share what we learned with the larger Wikimedia and library community outside of Spain in the hopes that it might inspire more librarians and educators to become involved with the Wikimedia Movement.

 

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Literature review

Wikimedia Movement Organizers

Wikipedia is accessed on nearly one billion unique devices each month and is the only non-profit in the top 10 Web sites in the world (Wikimedia Foundation, 2018). Although it began as a resource for the English-speaking world, it has grown into the largest multilingual database of information anywhere, ever. Wikipedia has been upheld, expanded, and improved by a global community that includes readers, editors, and “organizers”; this includes library workers — some of whom are organizers (Wikimedia Foundation, 2019).

In this study we will be exploring the motivations and activities of librarians who have acted as Wikimedia Movement Organizers (WMOs) in Spain. The Wikimedia Foundation (WF) describes WMOs as individuals who go beyond the creation of content: they set strategy, plan and run events, teach newcomers, lead communities of editors, develop partnerships, promote involvement, manage projects, mediate conflicts, identify gaps in knowledge, and ultimately facilitate thousands of activities every year (Wikimedia Foundation, 2019).

Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Wikidata, Wikisource: What’s the difference?

The object of this study is Wikipedia. However, we will at times discuss Wikimedia, Wikidata, and other sister projects; therefore, this section aims to provide background information and context.

A recent global brand study, funded by the Wikimedia Foundation, found that 89 percent of Internet users in Spain reported having “heard” of Wikipedia, the highest percentage of any country; the percentage is above 80 percent across North America and Western Europe, and growing above 40 percent around the world. The number was 87 percent in the United States (McCune, 2019). This same study highlights a lack of awareness about the Wikimedia Foundation (WF), Wikipedia’s parent organization, and WF’s other projects, such as Wikidata — 20 percent of Internet users had heard of it — and Wikimedia Commons — 13 percent of Internet users had heard of it. We provide the following explanations for readers who may be unaware of the different projects and structure.

Motivation and Wikimedia contributors

In this study we will be exploring the motivations of librarian Wikimedia Movement Organizers through an interpretive inquiry interview process. We will refer to the often-cited Self-Determination Theory (SDT) of motivation which was first discussed by Deci and Ryan in their 1985 book, Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior. Deci and Ryan have published numerous articles and books on the topic since 1985, and their work has been cited over 200,000 times (O’Hara, 2017). Motivation is what ‘moves’ people to action (Deci and Ryan, 1985).

SDT differentiates types of motivation along a continuum which can be characterized according to how the behaviors represent autonomous versus controlled regulations, see Figure 1 (Ryan and Deci, 2017).

 

Simplified architecture of interconnections between Autonomous Systems
 
Figure 1: Taxonomy of human motivation, adapted from Ryan and Deci [1].

 

Intrinsic motivation is defined as doing “an activity simply for the enjoyment of the activity itself, rather than its instrumental value” [2]. For example, someone might write a Wikipedia article in the evening, during their leisure time, because they find it fun and interesting. The motivation to complete the task is highly autonomous. However, most activities people engage in are not intrinsically motivated (Ryan and Deci, 2000). According to SDT, extrinsic motivation, “pertains whenever an activity is done to attain some separable outcome” [3] and varies greatly in the degree to which it is autonomous or controlled (Ryan and Deci, 2000). For example, one librarian may do their work because they fear employment termination and a second librarian may do their work because they believe it is valuable for their career; both librarians are extrinsically motivated, but the second example “entails personal endorsement and a feeling of choice,” while the first, “involves mere compliance with external control”. These two examples vary in their relative autonomy.

We will use Self-Development Theory to discuss the literature about Wikimedia contributors and their motivations. Although numerous academic studies have explored the motivations of Wikipedia writers and editors (Rafaeli and Ariel, 2008), none could be found exploring the motivations of Wikimedia Movement Organizers. We will begin by reviewing the quantitative and qualitative studies about contributors and their motivations, and conclude this section with a brief overview of a self-report published by the Wikimedia Foundation (2020) that looked into the motivations of Wikimedia Movement Organizers.

Numerous quantitative studies have been published related to motivation and Wikipedia writers and editors; they have had mixed findings. A highly cited quantitative study on this topic, “What motivates Wikipedians?” was published in 2007. After analyzing responses from 151 Wikipedians, Nov (2007) found that “fun” and “ideology” were the primary motivators for contributors, while “social” and “career” were not motivators. In this case, fun and ideology would be considered intrinsic motivators, based on the descriptions and examples provided in their survey, and “social” and “career” would be extrinsic motivators.

In 2010 Yang and Lai published a study of 219 Wikipedians; they analyzed knowledge-sharing motivations. Their statistical analysis found, “While Wikipedians may initially engage in Wikipedia simply for pleasure, intrinsic motivation is rarely the dominant motivation for knowledge sharing in Wikipedia.” They also write, “... given the influence of extrinsic and external self-concept-based motivation ... only extrinsic motivation significantly influenced individual knowledge sharing behavior” [4].

Stewart and Ju (2020) studied the motivations of Black Wikipedians. Their online survey of 318 Black identified Wikipedians revealed that contributors were motivated by Black altruism (perception of information quality regarding Black content in the Wikipedia universe) and perceived social presence (contribution results in a positive sense of self). Along the SDT continuum, these motivations are extrinsic. Stewart and Ju specifically point out, “Our results are a sharp contrast to previous studies which suggest that amusement is an influential factor in Wikipedia contributions, such as ‘fun’”.

What is missing from most quantitative studies is the voice of study participants. Qualitative studies are useful for describing examples of behavior, clarifying thoughts and feelings, and interpreting experiences in order to find explanations for human behavior in the given context, although is important to note that qualitative studies cannot be generalized to the wider population (Austin and Sutton, 2014).

Qualitative interview studies exploring Wikipedian motivations are minimal. The first two interview studies were published (Bryant, et al., 2005; Forte and Bruckman, 2005) only four years after Wikipedia first launched. In the first study by Bryant, et al., nine Wikipedians were interviewed. Interviewees were initially drawn to Wikipedia to correct errors and mistakes and then continued contributing out of a desire to improve the quality of Wikipedia and the community contributing to the content. Participants also felt the potential audience of their work was important, as one participant said, “What should I say here that will be of the maximum value to some guy who looks this up five years from now?” In the second study by Forte and Buckman (2005), 22 contributors were interviewed and researchers explored incentives as motivation. In this study participants described recognition from within the Wikipedia community (other editors and writers) as motivational, as one participant said, “In some ways you get recognized, you get some respect ... you feel happy when one of them puts a posting on your talk page.” This is an example of extrinsic motivation.

The next known study that utilized interviews was published by Asadi, et al. (2013), exploring the motivations of 15 Persian Wikipedians: approximately a third of the interviews were face-to-face and the rest were conducted via e-mail correspondence. In this study, new users who engaged with Wikipedia out of curiosity, an intrinsic motivation, were eventually motivated by some separable outcome. The researchers found that content production and improvement of Wikipedia in the local language, Persian, were the strongest motivators —described as, “pride of nation and language” [5].

A fourth qualitative study was conducted by Farič and Potts (2014), and explored the motivations of Wikipedians who contribute content on health-related articles in the English Wikipedia. In their interviews with 32 Wikipedians, they found that Wikipedians were motivated to share because the process resonated with their internal values and beliefs, which according to the SDT would be an extrinsic motivation, high in autonomy.

The final study we were able to locate that utilized interviews was focused on the French version of Wikipedia; 30 Wikipedians were interviewed (Joubert, 2017). This study examined the internal psychological relationship between a persons identity as a volunteer and paid worker. Although not framed as a motivational inquiry, it is an interesting look at how Wikipedia volunteer work can overlap with paid work. In the study a librarian describes something she enjoys in her personal life — editing Wikipedia — and how she has brought that to her institution, “when I arrived at the Musée a year ago, I adopted it. Each time I propose and I adapt a little my professional practices to the employee, to the institution, and I see what we can do on Wikimedia projects.” Her personal editing may be intrinsically motivated, but editing for the Musée is extrinsically motivated.

As mentioned earlier, there are no known academic studies exploring Wikimedia Movement Organizer motivations. However, a 2019 baseline study conducted by the Wikimedia Foundation (WF) sought to understand the “who, what, and how of organizing in the Wikimedia movement” (Wikimedia Foundation, 2019). Their study explored the experiences of 55 Wikimedia Organizers in 15 countries; half of the participants were located in Argentina and Ghana. WMOs in the WF study described their motivations in terms of ideological motivations and personal benefit. Ideological motivations were categorized under three themes: (1) Wikimedia identity — people who have gained experience through editing and engaging in a Wikimedia community, they usually have a deep commitment to the Wikimedia community before moving on to organizing activities; (2) commitment to “open” — people who organize as part of “open culture”, which may include people from Open Access, Open Source, and Open Education movements; and (3) social activism — people who organize with an activist agenda, which may include a commitment to the preservation of language and culture. All of these “ideological” motivations are extrinsic.

Most of the studies we have discussed in this section were conducted in the United States using English Wikipedia. However, several studies did explore the motivations of French, Persian, Argentine, and Ghanaian Wikipedians and Organizers. As mentioned earlier, there are over 300 language Wikipedias and Wikimedia contributors come from all parts of the globe. The next sections will provide more cultural context about Wikimedia and librarians in Spain.

Wikipedia and librarians in Spain

A changing digital landscape means that librarians must use innovative methods to engage patrons and learners. While initially Wikipedia was viewed with some trepidation by educators and librarians, it has, in recent years, gained traction and popularity as a tool for outreach and instruction. This popularity is reflected in the number of published articles within the field of library and information science. As proof of this, a search in Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LSTA) from EBSCOhost found 642 articles with the word Wikipedia in the title, 18 with the word Wikimedia in the title, and seven with Wikidata in the title (retrieved 21 October 2020).

Despite the popularity of these topics, academic articles about practicing librarianship in Spain and Wikimedia projects are limited. This is not surprising when we consider a 2017 research article written by two library and information science faculty in Barcelona. Ardanuy and Urbano (2017) analyzed the authorship of articles in two leading library and information science publications in Spain: El Profesional de la información (EPI) and the Spanish Conferences on Documentation. EPI was founded as a practitioner journal, however, the researchers found that between 1998 and 2015 the articles published by librarian practitioners dropped significantly, from 87.7 percent to 29.2 percent. The authors concluded that there was a large gap in publishing between LIS faculty and practitioner librarians in Spain by stating, “Research that provides information and insight into professional practice — especially activities related to the transformation of that practice — should be heavily in demand, because it enhances quality in a field of knowledge as inherently practice-based as is LIS.” We conducted a search in the EPI online archives and found seven articles about Wikipedia: only one was authored by a practicing librarian (Jiménez-Pelayo, 2009); two were authored by library and information science facult (Rodrígez-Mateos & Hernández-Pérez, 2018; Saorín, et al., 2020); and the remaining four articles were authored by faculty from disciplines outside of LIS, such as computer science.

Throughout the course of our research we identified seven academic publications about Wikimedia projects and practicing librarianship in Spain: an article about authority control (Jiménez-Pelayo, 2009); an article, a book chapter, and a conference paper about the use of Wikimedia Commons (Saorín, 2013; Ojeda and Tramullas, 2017; Tramullas and Ojeda, 2019); a report about public libraries and Wikipedia in Catalonia (Fenoll, et al., 2016); and two articles about Wikidata (Agenjo-Bullón and Hernández-Carrascal, 2020, 2018).

Wikipedia, languages, and Spain

Geographically, Spain is not a large country, but despite this Spain has five co-official languages and four protected languages. The 1978 Spanish Constitution stipulates that Castilian (commonly known as Spanish) is the country’s official language and every Spaniard has a duty to know it (Vila, et al., 2017). Approximately 99 percent of Spaniards speak Castilian (ABC News, 2017). In addition to Castilian, the four additional co-official languages are Catalan/Valencian, Basque, Aranese, and Galician; and the four protected languages are Aragonese, Asturian, Leonese, and Caló (European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, 2016). Of these languages, seven have Wikipedia sites:

Each language Wikipedia is unique, not a translation of another Wikipedia, although individual articles can be translated to and from any language. There are currently 300 active Wikipedias.

 

Table 1: Wikipedia ranking of the official languages of Spain according to the number of articles in each (Meta contributors, 2020).
Rank (of 300)LanguageNumber of articles
9Spanish (Castilian)1,613,237
20Catalan/Valencian652,639
29Basque362,956
48Galician164,668
63Asturian107,287
68Aranese (Occitan)86,211
99Aragonese37,017

 

Spain’s population is approximately 47 million. In September 2018 statistics were gathered about countries and Wikipedia pageviews for that one month period. According to these stats, there were 275 million pageviews, from Spain, in any language Wikipedia — approximately 5.9 views per person (WiViVi, 2018). Out of the 275 million page views, 73 percent were in Spanish Wikipedia, 16.2 percent in English, 3.8 percent in Catalan, 0.4 percent in Basque, and 0.3 percent in Galician (WiViVi, 2018). Percentages were not given for Asturian, Aranese, or Aragonese.

 

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Methodology

This section describes the methodology and process used in this study, including the recruitment and interview, transcription, and coding process. We sought to explore the questions “How are librarians in Spain applying Wikipedia (or its sister projects) in their library work?” and “What motivates librarians in Spain to engage with Wikipedia (as an educational tool)?”

Interpretive inquiry

This research uses the qualitative method of interpretive inquiry which seeks to understand by exploring lived experience. Interpretive inquiry assumes that a person cannot be separated from their social or cultural world; therefore, the researcher and the person are engaged in an interaction and the joint practice of meaning-making (Given, 2008). For example, when we interviewed participants in this study, we were making meaning jointly, with “back and forth clarifying, supporting, and aiding each other in understanding an answer to the question posed by [the researcher]” [6]. Interpretive inquiry acknowledges that meaning is something we make, not something we discover or find (Smith, 1992). The Sage encyclopedia of qualitative research methods (Given, 2008) describes how interpretive inquiry differs from other qualitative methods as, “the desire to step aside from various issues that have long been central to discussions about the nature and purposes of social and educational research ... interpretivists believe that researchers should drop their concerns about theories of knowledge ... .” Interpretive inquiry is practical and has been compared to forms of investigation or inquiry undertaken by “journalists, painters, poets, and ordinary people in their day-to-day lives” (Smith, 1992). “The goal of interpretive inquiry is the interpretation of the interpretations people give to their own actions and the actions of others (double hermeneutic). This is a process that is very much like ordinary conversation” (Given, 2008).

Methods

We began inviting potential interviewees to participate in our study in May of 2019, when we distributed an e-mail message to librarian listservs in Spain, in both English and Spanish. The e-mail invited WMOs within libraries to contact the researchers to setup study interviews. After we received initial e-mail contact from potential participants, we e-mailed a consent form in English and Spanish. The consent form and research protocol were approved by the Oregon State University Institutional Review Board and Human Research Protection Program; the form outlines the purpose of the study, participant expectations (one interview in Spanish or English), potential risks and benefits to participating, and that confidentiality would not be maintained, as stated here, “We may use verbatim quotes from the approved transcriptions in our research articles. The quotes from interviews in Spanish will be translated to English. The quotes will be attributed, so your name and the institutions that you have worked with may be part of our research articles. If you do not want your name to appear let us know and we will not use your name. However, because of the nature of the interview and the information in it, note that it is likely that you could be reidentified.” None of the participants asked to have their names anonymized.

After potential participants read the consent form and agreed to continue in the process, we setup interviews, which were conducted in one of two ways: (1) in English, in-person, in Spain with Laurie Bridges, and (2) in Spanish, via video chat, with Clara Llebot Lorente; three interviews were conducted in English in-person and 11 were conducted in Spanish remotely. The semi-structured interviews took place in July, August, and September of 2019. A total of 18 librarians (Table 2) participated in the 14 interviews. Each interview was audio recorded. Laurie Bridges transcribed the English interviews. Rodrigo Fernández Ortega, an Oregon State University library student employee, transcribed the Spanish interviews and Clara Llebot Lorente reviewed them for accuracy. Transcripts were then emailed to participants in order to edit, add, clarify, or remove text and give final approval. After receiving final approval, the Spanish transcripts were translated into English by Aaron Feder, a professional translator located in Barcelona. Clara Llebot Lorente reviewed the translations for accuracy. Funding for translations was provided by the Robert Lundeen Library Faculty Development Award at Oregon State University Libraries and Press.

 

Table 2: Study participants.
Note: 1, 2, 3 indicate that interviewees were interviewed together.
NameLibrary typeGeographic region
Cristina Jerez Prado
(Cristina J.P. in-text)
Biblioteca Municipal Pública de PraviaAsturias
Juan Pablo Frías LasherasBiblioteca de la Universidad de BurgosCastile and León
Larraitz Idarreta1Biblioteca del Centro Cultural Ernest LluchBasque Country
Maite Lopetegui1Biblioteca del Centro Cultural Ernest LluchBasque Country
Elena Oregi Basterrika2Red Municipal de Bibliotecas Donostia San SebastiánBasque Country
Marta Maza Otero2Red Municipal de Bibliotecas Donostia San SebastiánBasque Country
Mertxe Zabala BilbaoRed Municipal de Bibliotecas Donostia San SebastiánBasque Country
Amaia Cuende3Biblioteca Koldo MitxelenaBasque Country
Inma Barriola3Biblioteca Koldo MitxelenaBasque Country
Cristina Corta3
(Cristina C. in text)
Biblioteca Koldo MitxelenaBasque Country
Sara Guasteví OlivesMuseu de la música de BarcelonaCatalonia
Carme FenollBiblioteques Públiques de CatalunyaCatalonia
Roser NovellaBiblioteca de biblioteconomia i documentació, Universitat de BarcelonaCatalonia
Carmen de Miguel MuradoBiblioteca Reina Sofía Library, Universidad de ValladolidCastile and León
Susana Corullón ParedesBiblioteca de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Facultad de Comercio y TurismoMadrid
Xavier Agenjo BullónBiblioteca Virtual de Polígrafos, Fundación Ignacio de LarramendiOnline (Madrid)
Amparo Pons CortellMuseo Valencià d’EtnologiaValencian Community
Bárbara Gascó ComecheBiblioteca Pública Municipal de l’IlianaValencian Community

 

Participants were given the questions before the interviews, via e-mail. Each interview began with demographic questions about the interviewees’ names, locations, job titles, and years in the library profession. Next, in order to build rapport, we moved on to a list of 15 brief questions (Table 3) that were adapted from a quantitative study of faculty experiences with Wikipedia in higher education conducted by Minguillón, et al. (2018) in Catalonia. Although participants in our study could have answered these questions with a simple agree or disagree, usually the conversation between the researcher and participant(s) was open-ended and flexible and interviewees responses led to further conversation. Interpretive inquiry is both by design and emergent; topics and conversations emerged and were co-created throughout the interview process. Because the responses were not often a simple agree or disagree, we included the responses in our qualitative analysis.

 

Table 3: Initial interview questions adapted from Minguillón, et al. (2018).
Question
  1. Wikipedia is useful for teaching.
  2. Wikipedia is user-friendly.
  3. It is easy to find in Wikipedia the information you seek.
  4. It is easy to add or edit information in Wikipedia.
  5. The use of Wikipedia stimulates curiosity.
  6. The use of Wikipedia is entertaining.
  7. Articles in Wikipedia are reliable.
  8. I trust in the editing system of Wikipedia.
  9. The use of Wikipedia is supported among librarians.
  10. My colleagues use Wikipedia.
  11. It is important for students to become familiar with online collaborative environments.
  12. I recommend my students/patrons use Wikipedia.
  13. I recommend my colleagues use Wikipedia.
  14. I consult Wikipedia for issues related to my field of expertise.
  15. I contribute to Wikipedia (additions, revisions, article improvement, etc.).

 

After these questions, we transitioned to more open-ended questions that asked participants about their involvement in organizing Wikipedia events, activities, or classes. We asked participants to name the activities and provide as much information as possible including location, goals, feedback, motivation, colleague and public participation, and lessons-learned.

After the interviews were transcribed, approved by participants, and translated into English, they were physically printed and reviewed to identify topics and begin the coding process. Next, all the interview transcripts were uploaded into Taguette (Taguette.org), a free and open source qualitative research tool, and reviewed a second time and all topics and subtopics were coded (“tagged” in Taguette). Transcripts were reviewed a third and final time, individually, to confirm and identify any remaining topics or subtopics.

The following section includes translated quotes from participants. The direct quotes used in this article, and their translations, have been deposited as a dataset [7] into the Oregon State University institutional repository, Scholars Archive (Bridges and Llebot, 2020). Due to restrictions imposed by the OSU Institutional Review Board (ethics committee) we were unable to deposit the interviews in their entirety.

 

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Findings

Themes emerged during the coding process. Fourteen interviews with 18 participants yielded three overarching themes in the conversations between participants and researchers.

  1. Multilingual access and use of Wikipedia by librarians;
  2. Wikipedia activities in libraries; and,
  3. Motivations for organizing Wikipedia activities.

Theme 1. Multilingual access and use of Wikipedia by librarians

As described in the literature review, Spain has five co-official languages and four protected languages. Participants often discussed their own language use of Wikipedia during the interviews. Therefore, before considering these librarians’ roles as Wikimedia Movement Organizers (WMOs), it is important to highlight their descriptions of language-use of Wikipedia as readers and editors. Participants mentioned the co-official and protected languages of Spain, and also other European languages.

The following statements from participants capture typical descriptions of their multilingual use of Wikipedia.

“Usually Catalan or Spanish, it is the easiest for me, or English. It depends which page has more information.” Roser
“If I can, always in Catalan. Because it is in the language in which I work the most, although I do some things in Castilian. And of course, to write articles, English and German are the ones I use the most, but to translate into Catalan” [translated]. Sara
“Basque, Castilian, and occasionally French and English, but very occasionally” [translated]. Marta
“Especially Castilian. Unless it is a subject that you want to delve into and is underrepresented in Castilian. So, I do look for it in English or other languages, but usually in Castilian, yes” [translated]. Susana
“Usually Spanish, of course, but I translate also from French to Spanish” [translated]. Carmen

It is not surprising that the majority of our participants discussed their multilingual use of Wikipedia because 13 out of the 18 participants live in the Basque Country, Catalonia, or Valencia. In the Basque Country, Castilian and Basque are the co-official languages; it is estimated that three percent of Spaniards know Basque as their native language (ABC News, 2017). In Catalonia and Valencia, Castilian and Catalan are the co-official languages; it is estimated that 18 percent of Spaniards know Catalan as their native language (ABC News, 2017). In addition, Basque Wikipedia and Catalan Wikipedia are sources of great pride for their language and cultural communities, which can help explain why the majority of our volunteer participants were from these communities. It is also interesting to note that in Spain, Catalonia and the Basque country have the highest levels of English fluency (Delgado, n.d.).

Theme 2. Wikipedia activities in libraries

Prior to the interviews, all the librarians who participated in this study indicated, via email, that they had used Wikipedia as an educational tool (beyond their own reading and editing). Each participant was sent the interview questions before the interview. This statement/question was included, “I’m interviewing you today because you indicated, via e-mail, that you had worked with Wikipedia at your library. We are very interested in how librarians are using Wikipedia as an educational tool. Please tell me about the event, activity, instruction, or class.” Participants came prepared to answer this question, and many brought additional reference materials, including online promotional materials, articles, print fliers, and links to videos — we have included these additional resources, as links, when appropriate. This section will both list and sometimes describe the activities librarians shared during their interviews. Not every activity is mentioned here, because this article is not meant to be exhaustive, but instead to highlight both the common and unique Wikipedia activities conducted by librarian WMOs in Spain.

Editathons. Editathons were the most frequently mentioned activity — in six of the 14 interviews. Editathons are events in which a group of people meet to edit and improve a topic in Wikipedia. The events often include editing training, and have emerged as a popular way for people to gather and edit Wikipedia over the last 10 years. Since the first editathon, in 2011, hundreds of editathons have been held around the world (Bridges, Park, and Edmunson-Morton, 2019). Librarians in Spain describe their editathon events:

“What we did is write to our colleagues, to all the librarians in the region, and to the main one, let’s say, to the government of the region, to propose to organize an editathon at the same time in all the libraries in the region. So, it was accepted, we designed an activity that was very open, because the typology of the libraries is also very different. There were university libraries, specialized libraries, municipal libraries of a city or town of 200 inhabitants” [translated]. Cristina J.P.
“... in the philology faculty, the participation was massive, because the teachers got involved, we almost died of success” [translated]. Susana
“We did it inside a course class to ensure attendance because lately we have noticed that people didn’t come. This year, we have done it in the class subject ‘Search for information on the Internet’ which is part of studies aimed at people over 55 years old, called the University of Experience” (Universitat de l’Experiència). Roser
“... expand and create articles on Wikipedia, in our case, related to the cultural heritage of l’Eliana” ... [later in the interview] We organized the second editathon, in which, in addition to editing and expanding articles on Wikipedia, we also participated in sister projects, such as the multimedia repository, Wikimedia Commons, where we upload photos of the monuments and buildings of the town; Wikiquote, the free collection of citations, where we edited citations and sayings from l’Eliana, and Wikibooks. Another novelty was the photography contest whose objective was to increase the number of images in the municipality” [translated]. Bárbara

Localpedia. Two activities described by librarians in the Basque county were titled “Amarapedia” and “Donostiapedia”. Amarapedia focused on getting information about the Amara neighborhood in Donostia (Spanish: San Sebastián) onto Wikimedia projects, and Donostiapedia focused on the larger city of Donostia. Each activity spanned several months and activities. For example, Amarapedia started as an editathon in 2015, which was attended by approximately 30 people, that event was followed-up by a series of workshops. Although the workshops were not as successful as the librarians had hoped, one librarian stated:

“Some families participated, you know? For example, yes, three families came or so, and it was also mentioned that whoever did not want to edit could take photos. And then we would upload those to the Commons. And then three or four families participated. And well, it was very beautiful. A lot of hope. And the photos can be seen there now” [translation]. Basque librarian

The editathon and follow-up workshops resulted in approximately 80 Wikipedia articles.

Wikipedians-in-Residence. In three of the interviews Wikipedians-in-Residence (WiR) were discussed (Wikipedia contributors, 2020a).

“... in our case, we had the first resident Wikipedian in the world in a music museum ... It means that she came to the museum library a few days a week, she helped us create a page called Viquiprojecte: Museu de la Música (https://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viquiprojecte:Museu_de_la_Música_de_Barcelona), about music, and there we created an infrastructure with different themes, from women composers, who there were very few biographies, we got the copyright of a book on the relevant subjects lifted, so that we could do the exhibition, and that allowed us to directly copy the texts and upload them. They teach you, as experts, all the tools you can have at your disposal, to create whatever it is. From lists, to articles, etc.” [translated] (Viquiprojecte: Museu de la Música de Barcelona). Sara
“... it is true that this work with the illustrators, as such, is where the first Wikipedia-in-Residence entered here at our center. Which then was the one that took all that work. To interact with publishers, to ask them for images ...” [translated]. Basque librarian
“Then the first activity was an editathon on Espanta la por, which is another project that we carry inside the museum. And you say, this is it? Espanta la por ... means, to scare fear. It is a project, something that we have been talking about since 2016, to talk about the traditional Valencian fear when all saints arrive. And now you’re going to understand us. What we want to do is ‘Valencianise’ Halloween. Then, when all the saints arrive on November 1st, we dedicate ourselves from the museum to talking about our traditional monsters ... We have a pretty cool tradition about fear. Then in this campaign ... we did an Espanta la por editathon (https://ca.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viquipèdia:Viquimarató_Espanta_la_por) to upload to Wikipedia all that imaginary of Valencian fear” (Viquiprojecte:Falles, 2019) Amparo describes a WiR project.

Wikidata. Some librarians mentioned working with Wikidata. Xavier, at a virtual library in Madrid, discussed linking Wikidata and authority records, and writing a paper about the work (Agenjo-Bullón and Hernández-Carrascal, 2018). Juan Pablo, at the University of Burgos, discussed his experience adding authors’ Dialnet identification codes to Wikidata (Dialnet is a database that indexes scholarly journal articles, book chapters, and monographs published in Spain). And, Susana, in Madrid, mentioned the growing interest in Wikidata and said that she planned to work with it more in the future. Mertxe and Roser had this to say:

“And this year we went to a course by Tomás Saorín, from the library of the University of Zaragoza, from Wikidata, he explained Wikidata very well, he taught us what they were doing with Wikidata at the university, and it opened up the world to us. It was one of those times when you go, ‘Wow! We have to do this!’ And there is a project to, well, it occurred to us that you could enter the data of the comics in Wikidata ... You could make, well a Wikidata item that was the place where the comic happens with all its properties, its characters one by one, we thought it was amazing, I mean really amazing, and well, we learned it to do with novels. Then someone commented on doing it with comics, and we said this is a good idea. You have to do all, but all the comics, then it was going to be impossible, it won’t be done, but well. They are trying, yes, to put the comic world in Basque on Wikipedia. And it can only be done by posting them on Wikidata” [translated]. Mertxe
“The Wikidata session did not work as we thought because there were many concepts for so little time ... I do not know if we will repeat it again. Two hours is a short time, but maybe more time can be hard ... we have to think about it.” Roser

WikiCommons. Several librarians discussed WikiCommons and uploading materials and collections.

“It is a photography contest about traditional holidays. Then I think that Wikimedia Spain started doing this contest in 2016, and when I heard about it, I said, ‘This is perfect for us. Traditional culture in a museum of traditional culture, we have to go with this.’ So, the first year what we did is make a special project of that contest dedicated to the Fallas. Las Fallas, for those who do not know, are a world heritage event, and it is one of the great celebrations of the Valencian community.” [translated]. Amparo
“... what we started to achieve is, first, to get the Fallas Studies Association with us, those members are part of the jury. Amical Wikimedia was happy with the contest because it worked well with a contest, the museum was also happy because we created a different thing linked to the world of Fallas, and it was very dynamic and participatory, which is also very fashionable. You have to participate. And it was cheap, because you didn’t have to invest anything. Not a cent. We invested because we like images, and we created an image. And well for the first year we made a call, and more than 500 photos were uploaded. I think it is very good” [translated] (Viquiprojecte:Falles, 2019). Amparo
“taking advantage of the fact that the Korean foundation and other institutions donated around 20 instruments especially for the museum, we said well, because we took a photo of them, we released it on Wikimedia Commons, and that photo will be used for the article of each instrument” [translated]. Sara
“... despite being a small community we have had an advantage that has been mobilizing, authors, illustrators and translators and the heads of publishing houses so that they could give us book covers and illustrations and recordings of their voices, both presenting themselves and reading passages from their bibliography and all those — all those files, which add up to 450, have been incorporated into Wikimedia Commons and have enriched each of the articles” [translated]. Basque librarian

Wikisource. One group of Basque librarians discussed their use of Wikisource; the Basque instance of Wikisource is WikitekA. They described it as an important outreach tool for their library’s materials:

“Being as we are, the Koldo Mitxelena library, that is, a public and heritage library, our challenge would be to analyze how to contribute to Wikimedia projects and initiatives such as Wikidata, or Wikisource, and how to publicize our materials through these tools” [translation]. Amaia
“The objective is to make those old documents visible in Basque” [translated]. Cristina C. then started to explain the project, “And, more specifically, what is called ‘bertsopaperak’ here, which would be like verse papers, a publication widely read in the Basque Country in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They include the words of the bertsolaris, oral improvisers in the public square. In this environment, a kind of small championship was held in which a group of improvisers were brought together, in a festive atmosphere, to whom a topic was raised and they had to improvise on that matter. Those verses that they sang were collected in a series of sheets, ‘the bertsopaperak,’ which were a reflection of the worries, concerns, and, realities of the time” [translation]. Cristina C.

The librarians estimated that 40–50 verses were transcribed and added to WikitekA by five staff members.

“The oldest document dates from 1655 and from there, the topics covered by these bertsopaperak are very varied. It is, in short, the social and political chronicle of the time. Testimonies that were not collected in any other way. Those bertsopaperak are witnesses to what was happening and commented on the streets. They are, therefore, of great value” [translated]. Amaia

At the conclusion of the interview, Cristina C. stated:

“The possibility that Wikisource gives you is that you see the original document and the transcript. It is not only a transcribed text, but you have both at the same time: the text, and the original” [translated]. Cristina C.

Writers Guards. Librarians in the Basque Country were enthusiastic about sharing information about their “idazlezainak” project. As Mertxe explained in the interview, the word for librarian in Basque is liburuzainak; literally translated liburuzainak is “caretaker of books”. The Basque name for the project, “idazlezainak”, is a play on the Basque word for librarian and means “caretaker of writers”. In a presentation given in 2019, idazlezainak was translated to Writers Guards (Zabala, 2019).

Writers Guards was born from another project that aimed to create and/or improve 1,000 quality articles in Basque Wikipedia — as part of this project librarians were asked to work on the articles about literature, both universal and local literature. The librarians collaborated with university students and teachers on the project. During the first year they noticed that information about local Basque authors was scarce, as Mertxe said, “And well, many do not have a file on Wikipedia. If they do not have it in Basque, they do not have it in any language” [translated]. And that is how Writers Guards began:

“So, we were creating the authors that we had, the most representative, or the closest, whatever. We created a file for them, a project was done with all of us who could attract them to take a photograph to upload to Commons, and an audio was recorded for them ... in which they presented themselves. And some also made another audio in which they read a piece of their work. And all that to upload to Wikipedia” [translated]. Basque librarian

In the first year of the project, they worked on 25 Basque authors and the librarians in Catalonia worked on 25 Catalan authors. Then, “... we put them all on the Wikipedia in Spanish, and there we would meet and then we took the Catalan entries, and we would do it in Basque and they would take ours and they would do them in Catalan” [translated]. Writers Guards is an ongoing project and the librarians working on the project incorporate it into their daily interactions with patrons:

“it is also up to us that if an author or writer or an illustrator comes to the library as a user, to tell him, come here, I’m going to take a picture of you and I’m going to record you a little bit and I’m going to improve or create the article on Wikipedia if you don’t have it yet” [translated]. Basque librarian

When asked how authors have reacted to the project, Mertxe said:

“I think everyone is excited to be on Wikipedia, right? It is also a form of advertising for them, right? I say. I think that those of us with a photo also had an article on Wikipedia. But yes, yes. In fact, there are people that are already on a more personal level, you find them at the counter of the library, I think they still appreciate it more. They can’t believe it, they say, ‘I’m on Wikipedia!’” [translated]. Mertxe

Theme 3: Motivations for organizing Wikimedia activities

During the interview process librarians described their motivations for organizing Wikipedia activities unprompted. In addition, we sometimes asked, “What motivated you to do this activity?” In this section we will highlight the voices of the librarians as they relate to motivation and also discuss their motivation in relation to the Self-Determination Theory, as it has been described in the literature review.

Sharing open knowledge. Many librarians discussed sharing open knowledge as one of their motivations for organizing:

“I didn’t know anything about the garamut. And I wrote an article that had about 10 pages translated from German, and now I know a lot about the garamut ... Therefore, I have learned thanks to Wikipedia, I have learned a lot about the instruments that I can see in the museum.” [Later in her conversation] The one about the garamut I did a week ago, I sent it to everyone, and from the pedagogical department they said that we are going to send it, well, to those who do guided tours, because they usually explain very little about that instrument, and they can add more. And that seems extraordinary to me. The ones who work with collections it is like when I say diffusion, it is also diffusion among ourselves. I sent it to the collectors and they said well, that now we are going to be able to document the instrument we have in our catalog because you have done it on Wikipedia” [translated]. Sara

In the above quote, Sara is describing extrinsic motivation that is high in autonomy. Not only did she learn more about the garamut, but the Wikipedia article she created about the garamut was shared with others and she received positive feedback. As she says, “that seems extraordinary to me.” She later described a sense of responsibility toward improving Wikipedia articles about the instruments in the Museu de la música de Barcelona:

“What do I have here? A series of instruments, 2,400 instruments or whatever. I have sound banks, and I have Wikipedia that helps me make articles that don’t exist or improve ones that do, etc. So, I have a library of 4,300 books on organology, which is the specialty of musical instruments, and I have musical instruments that have no page ... I was talking about it just today with the museum team, most of them are not Wikipedians. I told them many basic articles are poorly done. Or not badly done, perhaps they are too basic and we would almost be obliged to improve them. Because we have a library, and we have the knowledge” [translated]. Sara

Again, Sara is describing an extrinsic motivation. According to Ryan and Deci (2000), “the most autonomous form of extrinsic motivation is integrated regulation. Integration occurs when identified regulations have been fully assimilated to the self. This occurs through self-examination and bringing new regulations into congruence with one’s other values and needs. The more one internalizes the reasons for an action and assimilates them to the self, the more one’s extrinsically motivated actions become self-determined” [8]. Other librarians describe their motivations in similar ways:

“You have the responsibility to generate new content on Wikipedia that you know that your son, nephew, a relative will consult and will take as a reference; that’s a great responsibility. And people are going to read that article if they want to know about that person” [translated]. Amaia
“Wikipedia and the library have the same mission, which is to facilitate access to knowledge. Working together librarians and Wikipedians promote open access to knowledge among citizens” [translated]. Barbara
“Let’s see, I became interested in Wikipedia as a form of sharing scientific articles: if we can quantify the impact of scientific articles to use them as a source for Wikipedia articles. That was my first interest. ... It was then a way of working collaboratively, as Wikipedia sought the support of cultural institutions, and in turn cultural institutions could spread their scientific output or research in the public domain. This is something very necessary, because in universities many times what is investigated does not transcend society” [translated]. Susana

Language and culture. The primary motivator for organizing, for most of the librarians we interviewed, was preservation and promotion of language and culture. As mentioned previously, the majority of participants in our study were from the Basque Country, Catalonia, and Valencia, where co-official languages are spoken. More precisely, eight of the 18 librarians were from the Basque Country, three from Catalonia, and two from the Valencia region.

“Yes, well, we say that Catalan Wikipedians are a Catalan army. And it’s very important, because for us, it’s our position in the world, in fact. You know that in Spain there are regional languages. And we think that if we don’t support our language in all the topics of our life, we can lose it ... So, for small languages, the Catalan Wikipedia is in a very good position, you know? So, we are very proud for this. And I think that librarians were involved in the start of the of this ignition of this. We are very proud for this.” Carme

In this passage Carme describes her commitment to the Catalan community and language by using such words as “we think ... we are very proud ... .” These are examples of extrinsic motivations. Other librarians who discussed language also discussed this feeling of commitment, obligation, and pride:

“In our community there are two official languages, Spanish and Basque. And as librarians we are especially committed to reinforcing the minority language, which is Basque, in all aspects of our work. So, we do focus on giving content in Basque about the neighborhood ... It could not happen if we had planned it in Spanish. The same would not have come out. Because here we do not have people who dedicate themselves to publishing like this in a group in Spanish” [translated]. Basque librarian
“Well the objective was on the one hand to expand Wikipedia in Basque. The subject of Basque is very important because at the end of the day we are making contributions to Wikipedia in Basque. We don’t go to Spanish at all. Or to English. That was an important objective, to create content in Basque. For the entire Basque-speaking community. And already at the literary level, it was to expand and improve biographies of writers” [translated]. Mertxe
“Yes, a bit of responsibility too, right? To increase use, to generate content in that language, so that users also have quality content in Basque ... In Basque, since there is not so much content, that responsibility is even greater. Students study in Basque and, if they want resources in Basque, they will go to Wikipedia in that language” [translated]. Amaia

The librarian sentiments expressed here are similar to the “pride of nation and language” motivations that were mentioned in the literature review in relation to a Persian study of Wikipedia contributors (Asadi, et al., 2013).

In addition to language motivations, intertwined throughout the interviews were motivations related to preserving and promoting regional culture.

“The project that I am carrying out in the library of l’Eliana is that of Bibliowiki, which consists of bringing Wikipedia closer to citizens, with the collaboration of the Amical Wikimedia association. In our case, this is creating and expanding local history articles on Wikipedia” [translated]. Bárbara

The motivation behind the Amarpedia event, which focused on the Amara neighborhood in San Sebastián, was to:

“repossess Amara for the neighbors, or those who want to know about Amara, information about their neighborhood. Information of a different kind, information that can be found on the Internet. And they can be documents, they can be articles, they can be photographs, locations in the open stream” [translated]. Basque librarian

 

++++++++++

Concluding discussion

After coding and reviewing the findings, we were able to answer the first research question, “How are librarians in Spain applying Wikipedia (or its sister projects) in their library work?” Through our interviews we found that librarians are planning and running events, such as editathons, localpedia activities, and Writers Guards; developing partnerships with local Wikimedia chapters; encouraging local citizens to take photos at regional events; teaching patrons how to upload photos to WikiCommons; transcribing historic documents and uploading them to WikiSource; sharing knowledge with school children in regional languages; and using Wikidata for authority control. Many of these activities are done by other librarians in other countries, for example editathons are hosted by librarians around the world. However, some activities are unique, such as Writers Guards in the Basque Country.

The interviews also answered our second research question, “What motivates librarians in Spain to engage with Wikipedia (as an educational tool)?” We found language and culture were primary motivators for librarians as Wikimedia Movement Organizers (WMOs) in Spain. The majority of our participants were from Catalonia, Basque Country, and the Valencian Community, where co-official languages are spoken. Our findings are consistent with previous research into the motivations of Wikimedia Movement Organizers and Wikipedia contributors: the Wikimedia Foundation (2019) reported that preservation and sharing of language and culture were motivators for a sampling of 55 WMOs from 15 countries; and the previously metnioned study of Persian Wikipedia contributors found that promoting the Persian language was a motivator (Asadi, et al., 2013). Similar to these two studies, participants in our study described feelings of pride, obligation, and commitment to their languages and communities.

We also found that librarian WMOs were motivated by a commitment to the Open Access and Open Education movements, something that the WF (2019) also found in their study. Librarian WMOs described wanting to share their materials with a worldwide audience, for “free”. Organizing Wikimedia activities and sharing information with the world was congruent with their professional goals.

Librarians in our interviews did not describe intrinsic motivations, defined as, “doing an activity simply for the enjoyment of the activity itself” [9]. Therefore, all motivations were extrinsic. Extrinsic motivations can vary greatly in the degree to which they are controlled or autonomous. Librarians in our study did not describe any motivations that could be labeled as, “external regulation” (Figure 1). External regulation is the least autonomous form of extrinsic motivation and is only performed to satisfy some external demand (Ryan and Deci, 2000). All motivations in our study could be labeled as introjection, identification, or integration (Figure 1); however, further exploration and discussion with participants would be needed to truly understand how participants would characterize the level of control and autonomy in their motivation using their “own voice”, an important aspect of interpretive inquiry. In the future, a study could be conducted with a smaller pool of participants that delves deeper into this topic.

We were surprised the well-documented gender-gap in Wikipedia was mentioned only twice as a motivator by our interviewees (Minguillón, et al., 2021). Librarians in Spain, like many countries, are predominantly women (Ferran-Ferrer, et al., 2017) and the majority of the participants in our study were women. We wonder if filling the gender gap is a motivator by librarian WMOs in other countries, particularly countries where Art + Feminism editathons are popular (Evans, et al., 2015).

We did not find that librarian WMOs were motivated by their own Wikimedia identity or a deep commitment to the Wikimedia movement. This is different from the findings of the Wikimedia Foundation (2019). However, librarians in our study were somewhat removed from the Wikimedia community when compared to participants in the WF study. Participants in the WF study:

“were either directly known or recruited through known Organizers, we acknowledge there may be a bias towards Organizers that are closer to the movement ... there is potential future research opportunity to better understand Organizers further removed or not yet included in our communities.”

Even though our participants were more removed, they were connected to trainers within the Wikimedia movement. These trainers often inspired librarians to take their first steps into the Wikimedia Ecosystem — extrinsic motivation. Trainers were consistently described with glowing reviews by librarians:

“In the library we learned that Àlex Hinojo was coming, and we already knew Àlex Hinojo by reputation, because in networks we followed one another, because the bibliowikis in Catalonia are very strong and they had talked to us about them, so we went. And we again heard the different options that we had for activities with Wikipedia, from Àlex Hinojo.” [translated] Amparo

While the purpose of our study was to answer questions about librarian WMO motivations and activities in Spain, we would also like to mention that editing frustrations experienced by organizers and participants in Wikimedia activities contributed to demotivation. Future studies should explore how demotivation influences Wikimedia Movement Organizers. Acknowledging the challenges that organizers face is important in engaging and retaining Wikimedia Organizers (Wikimedia Foundation, 2019).

This is the first academic study to explore the motivations and activities of Wikimedia Movement Organizers (WMOs). More research is needed into WMOs. For example, this study could be replicated in another country or region. Do librarian WMOs in other multilingual countries have similar language motivations? And, what are the primary motivations of librarian WMOs in the mostly-monolingual United States? A better understanding of librarian WMO motivations, worldwide and locally, would help the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia community engage with librarians in order to leverage their skills as information professionals and community organizers. Knowledge of motivational theory, such as the Self-Development Theory, can be used to identify motivational factors for different populations of librarians in order to foster higher levels of engagement with Wikimedia projects.

In addition to research into librarian WMOs, more research is needed that explores the relationships between Librarians and Wikimedia projects. Librarians and the Wikimedia movement share a commitment to knowledge equity and knowledge as service. In a changing information landscape librarians are moving from the physical building to online spaces. Wikipedia is the largest and most used online information database and it only makes sense that librarians should be there. As Mertxe said:

“I think the future of libraries is about expanding services, and being in the digital world — as much as catalogs are online and such, we lack a way to get out, right? And I don’t know. Reaching people differently. And I have always believed that Wikipedia is a service that we can provide ... It makes me broaden our vision of the library. We leave the building” [translated] End of article

 

About the authors

Laurie Bridges is an Instruction and Outreach Librarian and Associate Professor at Oregon State University.
E-mail: Laurie [dot] Bridges [at] oregonstate [dot] edu

Clara Llebot is a Data Management Specialist and Assistant Professor at Oregon State University.
E-mail: Clara [dot] Llebot [at] oregonstate [dot] edu

 

Notes

1. Ryan and Deci, 2000, p. 61.

2. Ryan and Deci, 2000, p. 60.

3. Ibid.

4. Yang and Lai, 2010, p. 1,382.

5. Asadi, et al., 2013, p. 248.

6. Morehouse, 2011, p. 33.

7. https://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/datasets/st74cz04h.

8. Ryan and Deci, 2000, p. 62.

9. Ryan and Deci, 2000, p. 60.

 

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Editorial history

Received 30 November 2020; evised 17 March 2021; accepted 4 June 2021.


Creative Commons License
This paper is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Librarians as Wikimedia Movement Organizers in Spain: An interpretive inquiry exploring activities and motivations
by Laurie M. Bridges and Clara Llebot.
First Monday, Volume 26, Number 6 - 7 June 2021
https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/download/11482/10138
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v26i6.11482