National Agricultural Library Welcomes Wikipedian-in-Residence
Plans a Public Edit-a-Thon for September 20
The National Agricultural Library (NAL) recently welcomed Jamie Flood to its Information Products Division and Special Collections Unit. Flood, who holds a master’s degree in rural sociology from Auburn University, is also an expert Wikipedian—an editor of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia—and will serve as NAL’s Wikipedian-in-Residence for the next year.
Wikipedia’s Women in Red project first drew Flood to working with Wikipedia. Women in Red refers to the red links that appear on Wikipedia pages for searched topics that don’t exist. Says Flood, “Only about 18 percent of articles on Wikipedia are about women, so the project goal is to address the ‘content gender gap’ and increase the number of articles that are about women. So I turned to my knowledge base and started writing articles about female scientists and artists—especially those under the agriculture umbrella—nutritionists, botanists, etc.”
Flood’s agricultural expertise extends to rural research, marketing, and purchasing. “At Auburn University I conducted—and became passionate about—historical research and worked extensively with Alabama Cooperative Extension and Satsuma Orange farmers on commodity research and marketing. From Auburn, I went on to work for Earth Fare doing merchandising and buying, specifically with local food.”
Flood is excited to be working at NAL and fostering its relationship with Wikipedia. “I have always had the utmost respect for the research and services that USDA provides for farmers and rural populations, and I have always been passionate about people and agriculture. Needless to say, I had always hoped that one day I’d get the opportunity to work for USDA. The work I get to do at NAL is literally a dream come true for me!”
As part of her duties as Wikipedian-in-Residence, Flood will host several Wikipedia “edit-a-thons” at the Library this fall, beginning September 20.
An edit-a-thon is a gathering of Wikipedia editors—and anyone else wanting to edit, or learn to edit, the online encyclopedia—with the purpose of improving or creating new entries in a particular topic area. The September 20 edit-a-thon will focus on NAL’s 50 years in Beltsville, Maryland, and on the areas of past librarians at NAL, U.S. laws that affected USDA (and, by extension, NAL), and NAL’s products and services.
NAL will hold the event in the Library’s main reading room. NAL Director Paul Wester will provide an overview of the Library, and guests will speak about the Library’s history and the Beltsville area. Flood will conduct a training session on editing Wikipedia, and then editing will commence. The event includes lunch and concludes with a formal tour of the Library.
All are invited to attend, learn more, and edit Wikipedia. The edit-a-thon is free, but participants must register and bring their own computers. Visit Eventbrite for more information and to register.— By Kelly A. Harmon, National Agricultural Library.