UPEI edit-a-thon set to help boost online profile of Canadian musicians

UPEI is taking part in a new national campaign called 'Music in Canada at 150 Wikipedia Project,' meant to increase the online profile of Canadian musicians.

Campaign will involve nationally co-ordinated editing events at libraries and universities across Canada

Charlottetown musician Dale Sorensen is a trombone player with the P.E.I. Symphony, and is helping rally musicians to come to the UPEI edit-a-thon. (Submitted by Dale Sorensen)

UPEI is taking part in a new national campaign called "Music in Canada at 150 Wikipedia Project," meant to increase the online profile of Canadian musicians.

The project is the brainchild of Stacy Allison-Cassin, the W.P. Scott Chair in e-librarianship at York University, who had difficulty finding information on Wikipedia about performers for a recent research project.

It's through even these small sorts of efforts that you can really improve the visibility of Canadian music.— Stacy Allison-Cassin 

"I made the assumption there was going to be lots of information on Wikipedia about these people," said Allison-Cassin.

"But when I started to look at it I realized that Wikipedia really does have a lot of information about some people, but then for the vast majority of Canadian musicians there's really not very much information, or very little."

Allison-Cassin was surprised to see even musicians who had been nominated for Juno awards didn't have Wikipedia pages or available information online.

"What does that mean for our Canadian cultural landscape when it can be very difficult to find information about Canadian music?" she asked.

Allison-Cassin visits P.E.I. often and her husband has performed in the Charlottetown Festival for the last 12 years. She's also spent a lot of time with local musicians and librarians from UPEI.

"I know there's lots of great music and fabulous musicians in P.E.I.," said Allison-Cassin.

'Increase their visibility'

The campaign will involve nationally co-ordinated edit-a-thon events at libraries and universities across Canada from Oct. 19 to Oct. 27. The events are open to the public and rely on community participation to build online content about local artists and music culture.

'It can be very difficult to find information about Canadian music [online],' says Stacy Allison-Cassin from York University. (York University)

Allison-Cassin said the goal is to increase the visibility of Canadian musicians and fill information gaps surrounding Canadian music online.

"I would really love to have that outreach to local musicians being able to sort of help increase their visibility," she said.

Wikipedia is an open-access resource for information that maximizes the visibility and availability of content around the world. Wikipedia articles are community-contributed, which Allison-Cassin hopes will encourage local musicians and anyone with an interest in Canadian music to participate.

"It can be very simple participation," she said. "Adding a reference for a piece of information, adding just a small piece of information about something or doing something more substantial, really it's through even these small sorts of efforts that you can really improve the visibility of Canadian music."

She added that anyone who cannot attend an editing event can contribute virtually from their home.

Up your library game, too

The event will include training on how to write, edit and publish Wikipedia articles. There will also be a workshop on how to access library resources and archives, said Rosie Le Faive, digital infrastructure and discovery librarian at UPEI.

'So many people get their information from Wikipedia,' says UPEI librarian Rosie Le Faive. (UPEI)

As well as increasing content about Canadian music, the project is also an opportunity for people to explore library resources and research tools, she said.

"The information literacy piece is huge, teaching people how to evaluate what sources are reputable," said Le Faive. "And to have a better understanding of how Wikipedia works because so many people get their information from Wikipedia."

The project is funded by grants from the Wikimedia Foundation as well as the 150 Canada @York University fund.

UPEI will host the campaign from 1 to 4 p.m. at Robertson Library on Oct. 24. Anyone with an interest or knowledge of P.E.I. music is invited.