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US National Archives enshrines Wikipedia in Open Government Plan

News release: “The US National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) have committed to engaging with Wikimedia projects in their newest Open Government Plan. The biannual effort is a roadmap for how the agency will accomplish its goals in the digital age. In the first plan, issued in 2010, Archivist of the United States David Ferriero wrote “the cornerstone of the work that we do every day is the belief that citizens have the right to see, examine, and learn from the records that document the actions of their Government. But in this digital age, we have the opportunity to work and communicate more efficiently, effectively, and in completely new ways.” These “new ways” included reaching out to Wikipedia, starting in 2011 with the hiring of Dominic McDevitt-Parks as a Wikipedian in residence. The position began as a student internship, but McDevitt-Parks has since moved to being a digital content specialist with a specialty in the Wikimedia sites. Ferriero has spoken at multiple Wikimedia events, including the Wikipedia in Higher Education summit in 2011 (see Signpost coverage) and Wikimania 2012 (videotranscriptSignpost coverage). He has been frequently quoted saying varying forms of the message: “If Wikipedia is good enough for the Archivist of the United States, maybe it should be good enough for you.” How has the Wikimedia movement benefited from NARA and McDevitt-Parks’ placement? There are three organized projects dedicated to NARA. On Wikisource, NARA has anongoing initiative that is transcribing US government documents. On Commons, NARA has uploaded over 100,000 images, the most recent of which came a month ago. The English Wikipedia has gone into action with several articles related to images from NARA, such as Desegregation in the United States Marine Corps. The site has benefited with several images uploaded for specific users, such as the lead images for two US battleships (USS Arizona (BB-39) and USS South Carolina (BB-26) (editor’s note: the author contributed significantly to both articles) or living Medal of Honor recipients, such as Charles H. Coolidge.”

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