A Failed Experiment? 2.0

Overnight, one other person voted for deletion of the Spirit of Librarianship article I put on Wikipedia as well.  So now it's four votes to delete, none to keep and so if you're going to look at the original article, you should do it soon since I'm not sure if it'll exist “behind-the-scenes” once it's deleted. 

Let's summarize…
– “Internal award within a University faculty”
– Wikipedia is not an indiscriminate collection of information
– possible Vanity page
not (encyclopedically) notable (three votes including one comment that it belongs on the University server”

– there's basically unlimited space on the site

– there are small villages in rural England that probably have less people than have been nominated for this award over the years yet they have stub entries of a single line at least (my SoL page had three sections, historical background, a description of the process and a photo)

– there are entries for things like reality TV shows and celebrities that are also inconsequential to most people.  But because they're widely known via their media exposure, articles about these things aren't challenged and instead are considered “notable”.  As an experiment, I created a page for a contestant on a current reality show and as of this typing, it hasn't been challenged in any way.

– although it would seem that a page for the Spirit of Librarianship Award would have a very limited audience, there is potential that someone, somewhere, someday might find the information useful (ie. students at another library school wanting to set-up a similar award.)  As a librarian, I always think of the anecdote from a Nicolas Basbanes book about a researcher at Harvard who finds the perfect book for the project he's working on.  He opens it up and sees that it was purchased in 1893 and based on the paper “date due slip” sleeve inside the cover, sees that it has apparently not been checked out once since then.  He comments to the librarian on this and says “I wonder who the librarian purchased this book for, nearly 100 years ago?” The librarian serving him that day replies, “Why, for you, of course.”  Doesn't that sum up librarianship right there? 

– they have pages for library-orientated awards (though this one has a connection to ALA and Harvard so I guess that makes it more notable.  But again, how do you decide that?  At least SoL doesn't have big gaps of 2-3 years where it wasn't awarded unlike the one I link to.  That says something as well, I think.) 

– …and the most important reason why I think it should be kept.  Wikipedia has a stated goal, expressed many times by its founder Jimmy Wales, of capturing the “sum of all human knowledge“.  You can't do this if you delete articles.  Wikipedia's guidelines say they don't want entries about “your neighbour's dog” but I think they're erring on the side of too much caution when they delete legitimate entries like this one.  They say too many non-notable entries will clog or confuse the site but I don't think that's really the case at all. 

Some library students (the ones who like cataloguing ) might fall on the side of deleting it to help maintain “bibliographic control” or something.  But I'm a library student who's a big fan of the principle: “maximize access to information” (tm – Elisabeth Davies) so I really think articles like this one should be kept, even if they don't meet the strictest interpretation of Wikipedia's guidelines.  Rules are rules but there should always be room to bend them, especially when it makes you err on the side of inclusiveness. 

Comments 5

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    my only objection to your post on spirit of librarianship is that you used an out-dated and (what student council summer
    05 determined to be) a flawed definition for it.
    for the correct explanation, please refer to the current student council consitition.
    n.b. “aura” et al. was felt to be too outlandish vocabulary for a purportedly respectable constitution.
    so if you are going to establish an encylcopedic entry, at least get the definition current and right.

    Posted 26 Jul 2006 at 11:48 am
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    I don't know if you meant for your tone to be pissy but it definitely came across that way, especially with that last line. (Posting anonymously doesn't help either – why not sign your post…unless you don't stand by what you've written?)
    Anyhow, the definition of the Spirit Award I used was taken from the old student council web site which is still available publicly
    I didn't do this on purpose but I think this proves a point I've made repeatedly on this blog – it would be *way* better for student council to have this type of information easily available on a public web site where anyone who's interested can find it via a quick Google search.
    Instead, we have the current method which hides information and makes it inaccessible (something that goes against the principles of librarianship completely.) Someone told me the only traffic on the intranet site is council members checking out minutes and stuff like that – the perceived inaccessibility of the site, even to students with passwords, is probably a big part of that problem.
    Also, you do know what the purpose of Wikipedia is, right? “The encyclopedia that anyone can edit”. So instead of coming here and telling me what to do and how I should do it, why not go in and make those changes yourself? The page will likely be deleted but if the powers-that-be saw there was activity on the page, that might help keep it around which, considering this is the only place to find out about the Award on the entire internet currently, is a good thing I think.

    Posted 26 Jul 2006 at 4:19 pm
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    heavens, not pissy at all! pls don't be so sensitive about it.
    i won't edit the wiki entry because i am in favor of deletion b/c i see it as self-promotion
    and I also am in favor of anonymous posts b/c that's what the net is about.
    but geez, nothing personal 🙂

    Posted 28 Jul 2006 at 3:23 pm
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    If I'm coming across as sensitive, you've got to give me that you came across as pissy – fair?
    And if that's the case, the reason I'm being sensitive is that, no matter what you think the Internet is for, I think that coming to someone's blog and posting anonymous comments is the equivalent of me showing up at your apartment and slipping an anonymous note under your door criticizing the music you're playing or something. And if that was the issue, I'd tell you my concern personally or at least sign the note.
    I've had a lot of people in the FIMS department read this blog and many of them post comments. Not all are in favour of what I've written but with one exception all have signed their names.
    Mike Thibault and I had a very engaging, healthy discussion about some of my criticisms of the Student Council on this blog (which some people took as us “fighting” but both he and I agree that wasn't the case at all) and here I am, about to take over his position on student council, perhaps partly because he respected my opinions in those discussions, even if he didn't agree with everything I said.
    So to me, it's interesting that the only people who haven't signed their names to their comments (the one I mentioned previously and now you) are people who were being critical of things I've written or done but who didn't have the maturity to sign their name. (Of course, you're not as anonymous as you think since this blog records your IP address when you post. Maybe I should go back and see if the IP addresses on those two posts match? I've always wanted a cyber-stalker! Nah, I'll take your advice and not worry about it too much.)
    I do have a challenge for you though. Reply and sign your name (or send me an e-mail off-list) and if you want to discuss this issue further, we can do so, in any medium – blog comments, e-mail, chat, hell, I'll even buy you a beer in person.
    Why? Well, to paraphrase your words “b/c that's what being an adult is about.”

    Posted 28 Jul 2006 at 8:00 pm
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Oh yeah, and I don't even need to start doing IP lookups to have a fairly good idea of who you are. I mean, there's probably not even half a dozen people in the program who would catch that the blurb I used was an outdated one! 🙂

    Posted 28 Jul 2006 at 8:03 pm

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