Are you an active editor who has made more than 500 edits and has an account more than 6 months old? If so, did you know you can access The Wikipedia Library, which provides free access to research materials to make it easier to write content on Wikipedia!
Eleven years ago, Wikipedia editor Jake Orlowitz asked Highbeam – an aggregator of news articles, academic journals, and other reliable sources – if they could provide him with a free account to their website so he could do research for a Wikipedia article. They offered him 1,000 accounts and encouraged him to distribute them amongst Wikipedia’s editing community so that everyone who wanted to use their resources on Wikipedia could do so!
Since then, more than 80 organisations have partnered with the Wikimedia Foundation to provide thousands of Wikipedia editors free access to paywalled sources. Over this time, the program became a fully resourced project at the Wikimedia Foundation, and it is now accessible through a distribution tool that can be accessed with your Wikipedia login and is capable of providing seamless searching and access capabilities for library users.
Wikipedia Library partners include large aggregators (such as EBSCO and ProQuest), prominent publishers (like Springer Nature and Wiley), newspaper databases (like Newspapers.com and British Newspaper Archive), and numerous niche collections across a wide range of topics.
Using The Wikipedia Library
To use The Wikipedia Library, simply head over to https://wikipedialibrary.wmflabs.org and log in via Wikipedia. Users with trivial account blocks can contact us to request an exemption. Once logged in, every collection under the "My Collections" tab can be accessed right away via the Access Collection button. Additional collections are available under the Available Collections tab, but these ones require an application before access is granted (we generally have a limited number of accesses available to distribute for each). For application-based publishers, you will receive further instructions via email after being approved.
If you don't know which collection you need, simply enter your search term into the search bar at the top of the page - this will search across most of the default set of available resources and provide direct access to search results. To help us expand the library, you can make suggestions for new content to be added.
Over the past year we have been working to move as many of these collections over to the proxy-based access method to make editor access as seamless as possible. Nearly 70% of collections are now available via proxy, with most of those being accessible without an application!
For resources accessible via proxy (which includes all of the resources that are available to all eligible users without requiring an application), there are some additional access tips and tricks that can help you get to full text from outside the Library - whether an external search engine or an on-wiki citation.
- Zotero is a free open-source reference management software that can be installed as a browser extension. This allows you to automatically detect proxies and route requests.
- For a lower-tech solution, simply paste
https://wikipedialibrary.idm.oclc.org/login?auth=production&url=in front of a URL that you want to try to access.
These solutions won't work on every link, but we hope they can help improve your access to paywalled resources available through The Wikipedia Library! You can find more guidance and tips on using the library in the recording for a recent conversation hour from the Deoband Community Wikimedia.
If you want to hear more about the Wikipedia Library, you can subscribe to Books & Bytes.