Wikipedia: Librarians’ Perspectives on Its Use as a Reference Source

Johnny Snyder

Abstract


Mention Wikipedia in a group of people and a lively discussion is sure to follow with terms such as peer-review, editing policies, and Web 2.0 entering the conversation. Wikipedia is the open access, Web 2.0 encyclopedia that is harnessing the power (and knowledge) of the masses and making it freely available to the Internet audience. With open access, problems have appeared and solutions have been implemented; however, many netizens (network citizens) are only aware of the negative and high profile misuses of Wikipedia, skewing their view of this knowledge repository. This paper studies how one group of information seekers, librarians, is utilizing this freely accessible web resource in their work, and how positive and negative awareness affects this usage. Usage statistics, awareness statistics, and gender differences for Wikipedia usage are presented in this paper and discussed. Comparisons of librarian statistics to previously published data on university faculty and student usage of Wikipedia are presented. It is established that librarians have greater awareness of negative issues surrounding Wikipedia than of positive issues. This awareness drives usage of Wikipedia in personal and professional settings. Results also indicate that there are no major gender differences in awareness of positive and negative issues concerning Wikipedia, but that males tend to use Wikipedia more than females, confirming the results of previous studies.


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5860/rusq.53n2.155

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