2022:Submissions/A Continental Move: Celebrating the African Librarians Week past and present

From Wikimania

  • Language: English
  • Status: Live

Speaker(s)[edit source]

Alice Kibombo

Abstract[edit source]

Wikipedia strives to represent the full, rich diversity of all humanity. However, while everyone is encouraged to contribute to the encyclopedia, only a relatively small percentage of contributors are from Africa. This results in gaps in the online knowledge available about Africa and its people and stories. African people are the best to tell these stories, as they can truly capture the nuances of their own cultures, languages, heroes/heroines, philosophies of life, discoveries, innovations, pop culture and more. This under-representation in Wikipedia means that the global public sees misrepresentation of African voices (including eminent scholars and literati) and other information, which leaves stories about Africa mostly told by non-Africans who do not fully understand the diversity and context of who we are.
The African Librarians Week was conceptualized as a new outreach initiative by AfLIA, the unifying platform for the African library field, which partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation and librarians across Africa to ensure that Wikipedia has relevant and accurate content about Africa. Library communities are engaged to help fill key gaps in African content on Wikipedia by adding content and missing references to articles about Africa on the online encyclopedia.
The inaugural African Librarians Week took place in 2020 under the theme; “Promoting African Scholars to the World.” and we have never looked back. It is a commemorative period recognized by all when African Librarians across the continent use it as an opportunity to contribute to making Wikipedia a more reliable platform. The continental all-virtual campaign coincides with the African Union Day (25 May), and is used to bring participation to the “One Librarian, One Reference” (#1Lib1Ref) campaign across Africa.
The African Librarians Week not only brings together brilliant information workers within research and learning spaces around Africa, it is also a time to learn, discuss and meet like-minded collaborators. Their contribution, cannot be overemphasized in the Wikimedia Community.
Participation and contributions have slowly evolved with time – we have a lot to celebrate but we still have a lot to learn and share on how we made it this far. Talking about this experience will therefore be an opportunity to share our journey, good practices and learning points. Events such as the African Librarians Week, go a long way in building futures of curious minds and provocative, sometimes controversial dialogues.

Learning Outcomes[edit source]

1. What the African Librarians Week is, results (over the years) and an understanding of what we can do to make it better.
2. Tips and learning points on how to mobilise a community of practice to actively contribute to Wikipedia on a continental level
3. Sharing our successes and productive failures associated with this activity

Biography[edit source]

Alice Kibombo is a Librarian and has been actively contributing to various Wikimedia projects since 2017. Having served as Wikipedian-in-Residence with AfLIA, her main areas of interest are in GLAM and Community Outreach.