Susan Barnum Named <i>Library Journal</i> Mover & Shaker for Librarianship on Wikipedia

WebJunction /
Photo of Susan Barnum

Susan Barnum considers contributions to
Wikipedia a natural extension of her librarianship.
Credit: Susan Barnum

Susan Barnum, a public services librarian at El Paso Public Library, has been selected as a 2018 Mover and Shaker by Library Journal for her advocacy work in Wikipedia. This recognition—given to changemakers in the library field—highlights the impact of Barnum’s contributions as a librarian involved in Wikipedia’s editorial backchannels.

Barnum works to ensure that typically overlooked stories—biographies of Chicana artists, women’s history, and local history, for example—are represented on Wikipedia. Her efforts were featured in the WebJunction series Librarians Who Wikipedia. As a guest presenter last fall in the Wikipedia + Libraries training program for public library staff, she described raising the visibility of local history and her library’s resources by contributing to the online encyclopedia.

She also discussed how her skills as a librarian enabled her to rescue biographical articles about women from being deleted from Wikipedia. Barnum volunteers as a “Librarian in Residence” for Women in Red, a WikiProject devoted to expanding Wikipedia’s coverage of biographies of notable women.

Barnum’s contributions have been applauded by the Wikipedia community. In 2017 she was selected as an “admin” in Wikipedia, and granted access to an expanded suite of technical tools, such as the ability to delete or restore articles. A number of editors supporting Barnum’s selection recognized the value of her professional skills:

"Finally, the perfect candidate. A professional librarian who regularly writes content, cares greatly about content and is a pleasant person. Take note others, this is what an admin should be like."
"Sums up a personal theory of mine that librarians rule."

Barnum sees her Wikipedia work as a natural extension of her librarianship:

"It’s important to me to contribute to a collective body of knowledge that’s accessible to all. I find meaning in leaving a mark on the world by improving Wikipedia. As a librarian, I have all these references. I have access to databases that expand access to knowledge online. I see myself as someone who is a librarian on Wikipedia."

Read more about Barnum’s accomplishments in the Library Journal article.