Digital scholarship blog

29 October 2020

Happy Eighth Birthday Wikidata!

Sadly 2020 is not being a year for in-person parties! However, I hope you'll raise a socially distanced glass safely at home to celebrate the eighth birthday of Wikidata, which first went live on 29th October 2012.

You can follow the festivities on social media with posts tagged #WikidataBirthday and read a message from the development team here. The WikiCite 2020 virtual conference kicked the celebrations off a few days early, with sessions about open citations and linked bibliographic data (videos online here) and depending what time you read this post, you may still be able to join a 24-hours long online meetup, where people can drop in to chat to others about Wikidata.

If you are reading this post and wondering what Wikidata is, then you might want to read this introduction. Essentially it "is a document-oriented database, focused on items, which represent topics, concepts, or objects. Each item is allocated a unique, persistent identifier, a positive integer prefixed with the upper-case letter Q, known as a "QID". This enables the basic information required to identify the topic that the item covers to be translated without favouring any language."[1]

Wikidata 8th birthday logo

Many libraries around the world have been actively adding data about their collections to Wikidata, and a number of groups to support and encourage this work have been established.

The IFLA Wikidata Working Group was formed in late 2019 to explore and advocate for the use of and contribution to Wikidata by library and information professionals. To support the integration of Wikidata and Wikibase with library systems, and alignment of the Wikidata ontology with library metadata formats such as BIBFRAME, RDA, and MARC.

This group was originally due to host a satellite event for the World Library and Information Congress 2020 in Dublin, which was sadly cancelled due to Covid-19. However this event was quickly converted into the Wikicite + Libraries series of six online discussions; about open citations, language revitalisation, knowledge equity, access to scholarly publications, linking and visualising bibliographic data. The recordings of which have all been made available online, via a Youtube playlist.

They have also set up a mailing list ( and held an online launch party on the 8th October (slides). If you would like to attend their next meeting, it will be on the 24th November, the booking form is here.

illustration of a hand taking a book out of an image of a bookshelf on a computer monitor

Another online community for librarians working with Wikidata, is the LD4 Wikidata Affinity Group, which explores how libraries can contribute to and leverage Wikidata as a platform for publishing, linking, and enriching library linked data. They meet biweekly via Zoom. At each meeting, either the co-facilitators or an invited guest will give a presentation, or a demonstration, then there is a wider discussion of any issues, which members have encountered, and an opportunity for sharing helpful resources.

If you work in libraries and are curious about Wikidata, I highly recommend attending these groups. If you are looking for a introductory guide, then Practical Wikidata for Librarians is an excellent starting point. There is also Library Carpentry Wikidata currently in development, which is shaping up to be a very useful resource.

It can't be all work and no play though, so I'm celebrating Wikidata's birthday with a seasonal slice of Frankencolin the Caterpillar cake!

This post is by Digital Curator Stella Wisdom (@miss_wisdom)

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