Have you visited Wikipedia today? On average, 500 million people look at 18 billion Wikipedia pages every month! That’s like saying everyone living in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and, oh, Zimbabwe looked at 36 pages this month. With over five million articles on the English Wikipedia alone, you can find information on pretty much anything. But there’s still room for improvement on many topics, like articles about glass, glassmaking, and glassmakers. That’s where we come in. The Rakow Research Library is the world’s foremost library on the art and history of glass and glassmaking, and the Museum is home to experts on all sorts of glass topics. We can use our resources to make sure the glass articles you read on Wikipedia are top-notch. But we can’t do it all on our own. That’s why we invited local teens to help us out at our first public Wikipedia edit-a-thon.
Along with the Southeast Steuben Public Library, the Rakow Library hosted an edit-a-thon to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of contemporary artists working in glass. There are a lot of notable artists currently working with glass, so we narrowed down our to-do list by choosing from those represented in the Contemporary Art + Design Wing.
To start the edit-a-thon off, teens explored the new galleries, using GlassApp to find work by artists they liked. Each teen chose at least one artist to learn about and researched that artist’s life and work. They edited the Wikipedia article for that artist, citing books from the Rakow Library’s collection and reliable websites. Adesh chose to work on Liza Lou’s Wikipedia article, adding a paragraph about Continous Mile. He wrote:
In 2006, Lou started creating one of her most notable works, Continuous Mile, with the help of a team of Zulu women. Continuous Mile is composed of more than 4.5 million black beads, sewn into ropes which are then coiled into a cylindrical shape. The theme of this work is “work,” or process. As Lou states, “The idea was to employ as many people as possible, using the slowest possible technique in order to engage a community, and to build homes in the process of making an art work.”
Some artists, like Beth Lipman, didn’t have a Wikipedia article. Alicia took on the task of starting her article from scratch, making sure Lipman fulfilled Wikipedia’s notability guidelines. She compiled biographical details such as Lipman’s birthplace, nationality, education, and awards. A few edits later, the Beth Lipman Wikipedia article was made available to the public.
At the end of the event, the results were tallied: the teens edited 13 existing Wikipedia articles and created drafts for four new articles. Museum Wikipedians hope to continue improving these articles, as well as articles on many other glass topics.
The Rakow Research Library is open to the public 9am to 5pm every day. We encourage everyone to explore our collections in person or online. If you have questions or need help with your research, please use our Ask a Glass Question service.