120 years ago today, William McKinley won the United States presidential election by more than 100 electoral votes. He did this despite refusing to deal with party bosses and campaigning from his home in Ohio rather than traveling around the country. The most important issue that year is an obscure one today: metallism, and in particular free silver, a monetary policy championed by McKinley’s opponent, William Jennings Bryan.
If you visited Wikipedia’s Main Page today, you may have seen an article about McKinley’s campaign in the “today’s featured article” section, which highlights often timely examples of the best articles Wikipedia has to offer. Featured articles can take months to develop and go through extensive peer review processes. To even be considered for featured article status, an article must be thoroughly and reliably sourced. The McKinley campaign article, for example, contains roughly 120 references to 20 high-quality sources. For editors who want to develop such an article, the importance placed on using of the best sources can pose a significant challenge when those sources are trapped behind paywalls.
Thankfully, the Wikipedian primarily responsible for developing this article, Gary Greenbaum, has access to a wealth of resources through George Mason University. Gary is the GMU Wikipedia Visiting Scholar.
GMU is one of several institutions getting involved with the Wikipedia Visiting Scholars program in order to have their library’s resources utilized in support of public knowledge on Wikipedia. It’s a great way to increase the impact of your library’s holdings and an easy way to create a connection between your library and Wikipedia. Once the account is created, it takes only as much time as you want to put into it. Wiki Education coordinates the application process and provides a tool which both tracks work and gathers metrics like pageviews. For example, in the last year, the articles Gary has written with GMU resources have been viewed more than 2.4 million times.
If you’d like to get involved as either an institutional sponsor or a Visiting Scholar, see the Visiting Scholars page on Wikipedia or email firstname.lastname@example.org.