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Kansas City Public Library Hires A Dedicated 'Wikipedian-In-Residence'

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People are gathered around a table, working on computers and editing Wikipedia articles for an edit-a-thon.
Kansas City Public Library
The public library hopes to hold virtual edit-a-thons that allow contributors to edit a certain topic on Wikipedia together

The Kansas City Public Library claims that Miranda Pratt is "the first Wikipedian-In-Residence appointed by a public library in the United States."

Miranda Pratt is taking up the mantle of Wikipedian-In-Residence for the Kanas City Public Library.

Pratt's position within the library is that of an advocate — tasked with increasing engagement and understanding in Kansas City surrounding the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia.org.

"With this position, I'm kind of creating community awareness that we can all write our history together on Wikipedia," Pratt said in an interview with KCUR's Up To Date.

Although the Kansas City Public Library calls this position the "the first Wikipedian-In-Residence appointed by a public library in the United States," there are other institutions that house similar positions.

The Wikimedian-In-Residence Exchange Networkconnects Wikipedians from different organizations for professional networking and information-sharing.

"It's a global network," Pratt said. "There's someone who works at the U.N. who's a Wikipedian-In-Residence and they do very different things than someone who works at the Smithsonian who's a Wikipedian-In-Residence."

Miranda Pratt, Wikipedian in Residence with the Kansas City Public Library, stands in front of an empty city street for a headshot.
Grant Litton Photography
Miranda Pratt

A graduate of the KC Art Institute, Pratt was introduced to the online encyclopedia through an internship at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, which was centered around writing a Wikipedia article on a person who hadn't previously been included.

During their research, Pratt found an organization called Art + Feminism whose goal is to "increase gender representation on Wikipedia and close content gaps." From then on, Pratt focused on underrepresented communities and the best way to get them involved in the editing process.

"Both neutrality and notability [act as barriers] when creating these articles that are not inclusive and representative of the community that exists on this planet," Pratt says.

Throughout this year, Pratt hopes to hold virtual edit-a-thons, a group event where contributors edit a specific Wikipedia topic, and is excited to gather suggestions from the community.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
Trevor Grandin is a contributing producer for KCUR Studios.
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