Much of my work has been working on systemic barriers around access to quality information.Knowledge equity means ensuring access to information in an environment which respects human rights. I would say that adding more content doesn’t equal knowledge equity. I think we have to be really careful not to equate “filling gaps” with equity.
For example, mass uploads of content doesn’t produce equity if there are things in that content that are harmful in some way (i.e. colonial). And further, we need to consider whether we have the right to someone’s knowledge or a community’s knowledge. Sometimes gaps are intentional and sometimes gaps equal equity. It’s our responsibility to take these issues as central to working toward knowledge equity. And we can do this by involving more people from the communities we intend to serve.
For more than 10 years now, cultural institutions around the world have partnered with Wikimedians to make their collections more visible and to encourage re-use via Wikimedia platforms. Collaborations of this kind, GLAM-Wiki projects (with Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums), often use Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons as platforms. Images of cultural collections are uploaded to Wikimedia’s media repository Wikimedia Commons and are re-used as illustrations in Wikipedia articles.
For several years, a growing number of GLAM-Wiki partnerships also work with Wikidata, the free, multilingual knowledge base of the Wikimedia ecosystem. Cultural institutions and Wikimedians upload data about cultural collections to Wikidata: it provides an accessible way to publish collections data as Linked Open Data, and makes the collection data multilingual, re-usable and discoverable across the web. Since 2019, files on Wikimedia Commons can now also be described with multilingual structured data from Wikidata. This will make the (structured) data component of GLAM-Wiki collaborations even more prominent in the future.
For me, “Knowledge Equity” means that everyone has equal access to reliable and unbiased knowledge that is relevant to them, in their context and for their lives. It also means that everyone has a say in which knowledge is presented on the Wikimedia-projects, and how. For the Netherlands in particular that knowledge held here, but very relevant for people in other parts of the world, is made accessible.
Partnerships between Wikimedia affiliates and cultural heritage institutions like a national library can result in positively boosting youth engagement. This case study demonstrates how Wikimedia Armenia worked with the National Library of Armenia to digitize important cultural texts, and engaged youth in adding them to the free knowledge commons.