Report: #1lib1ref Editathon at the University of Huddersfield

Submitted by Laura Woods, Subject Librarian, University of Huddersfield

One Librarian, One Reference (or #1lib1ref) is an annual Wikipedia campaign that aims to encourage librarians all around the world to make Wikipedia better, one reference at a time.

To celebrate this initiative, we decided to host a librarians’ editathon at the University of Huddersfield. Myself and Lindsay Ince, Assistant Records Manager and Archivist, had been running editathons for staff and researchers at the University of Huddersfield since March 2017, so holding an external event seemed an obvious next step.

We planned the event for Saturday 3rd February, in the hope that an event on a Saturday would enable those who cannot attend events in worktime to come. With kind sponsorship from CILIP ARLG Yorkshire & Humberside branch, to cover the cost of refreshments, we were able to hold this event for free.

Several of us deep in thought and discussion over our Wikipedia edits! Photo courtesy of Hellen Pethers aka @ohreallyhells

We were uncertain how much demand there would be: Laura had tweeted the idea out to some local contacts to gauge interests, and there seemed to be some enthusiasm, so we were confident we would fill at least a few spaces. Once the booking was promoted via social media and mailing lists, it was fully booked within days! We were delighted to see that people were willing to travel from much farther afield than anticipated: some bookings appeared from people based in Aberdeen, London and Bristol.

On the day, 15 librarians arrived ready to learn about editing Wikipedia and get stuck in to adding some references. A brief round of introductions showed that while a handful had some basic prior experience in editing Wikipedia, the majority were beginners.

We therefore started with an overview of Wikipedia’s core content policies, how to find articles needing citations using the Citation Hunt tool, and a quick demonstration of how to add a citation. We then discussed concerns and questions regarding adding sources to Wikipedia. Some common queries included:

  • Do all references added need to be available online? (Answer: no! Ideally every source added would be available open access, but it is acceptable to add non-digitised sources, or paywalled sources, if there is no open access version available)
  • What do we do if we can’t confirm the information with a source? (Answer: leave it, or be brave and delete it!)
  • Can we create new pages, if we come across a topic that isn’t already covered by Wikipedia? (Answer: yes! There are lots of Wikipedia projects aimed at improving coverage of under-represented topics: for example, Women in Red is a project dedicated to developing new pages for notable women who do not already have them).

Once we’d covered the main points, we were ready to start editing. Unfortunately the University was experiencing major network outages that day, so we had to relocate – luckily the local public library was ready and willing to welcome us in! Once settled in the public library we started hunting for pages to improve.

Between us we contributed dozens of new citations to Wikipedia, using a combination of free online sources, subscription sources from our own libraries, and Huddersfield Library’s reference collection.

This word cloud illustrates the range of topics we tackled between us: nothing is beyond the expertise of a group of librarians armed with reference materials!

A word cloud showing some sample topics of pages edited during our editathon. Topics include Marie Antoinette, ancient Sumerian, Books on Prescription, and Death Valley National Park.


Everyone involved was enthusiastic about their new-found skills, and keen to go back to their own work to see how they could encourage others to get involved. Several intended to keep on adding citations to Wikipedia, with some describing the Citation Hunt tool as “addictive”!

Running a #1lib1ref editathon was extremely rewarding, as we were able to introduce more than a dozen new editors to Wikipedia, and make improvements in real time. It was also great fun! Editathons are quick to set up, and simple to run: all you need is one or two people with experience of editing Wikipedia, a space with computers and/or Wi-Fi, and preferably some caffeinated drinks and snacks to keep everyone going.

The Wikipedia Library has created a useful guide to running a #1lib1ref editathon if you want to give it a go for next year. There is also plenty of guidance on running an editathon on any topic if you’d like to do so in your own organisation. Happy editing!

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