Wikimedia UK and National Library of Scotland announce new Gaelic post

The Callanish stones, a prehistoric site on the Western Isles of Scotland - Image by lolaire~commonswiki
The Callanish stones, a prehistoric site on the Western Isles of Scotland – Image by lolaire~commonswiki

The Gaelic language is to be promoted through one of the world’s most popular websites thanks to a new role based at the National Library of Scotland.

Dr Susan Ross, who learned Gaelic as a teenager and has since gained a doctorate in Gaelic studies, has been appointed the world’s first Gaelic Wikimedian in Residence. This year-long Wikimedian in Residence post will see her working with the Gaelic community across Scotland to improve and create resources on Uicipeid, the Scottish Gaelic Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is the world’s most popular online encyclopaedia of which Uicipeid forms one part. It has been in existence since 2004 and currently has more than 14,000 pages of information in Gaelic. Dr Ross will work with the existing community of users to identify priorities for development and encourage new users to begin contributing.

Over the coming year Dr Ross will collaborate with Gaelic speakers, community groups and organisations to improve Uicipeid content by offering training and edit-a-thons. The work will also seek to promote use of the extensive Gaelic resources held by the National Library of Scotland, many of which can be accessed online.

Dr Ross, who has been contributing to Uicipeid since 2010, said: ‘Contributing to Gaelic Wikipedia builds a 21st century information source where knowledge, in Gaelic, about both the Gaelic world and the wider world, can be stored and shared. It is a great opportunity for Gaelic speakers to exercise reading and writing skills in a creative, informal, collaborative environment and I’m excited about the possibilities to get more people involved.’

Gill Hamilton, Digital Access Manager for the National Library said: ‘We were impressed by the number of high quality applications we received from Gaelic speakers to fill this role which demonstrates the importance in which it is held. Susan emerged as the best candidate and we look forward to working with her as she develops this exciting role.’

Daria Cybulska, Head of Programmes and Evaluation at Wikimedia UK said: ‘Issues of diversity and equality are central to Wikimedia UK’s vision and we work to enable people from all ethnic and linguistic backgrounds living in the UK and beyond to enjoy increased access to their own heritage. This project will be crucial in addressing this focus, and we are really looking forward to supporting it.’

The initiative is a partnership between the National Library of Scotland and Wikimedia UK, the charity that supports and promotes the free online encyclopaedia. It is supported by grants from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, the agency responsible for promoting Gaelic language throughout Scotland and internationally, and Wikimedia UK.

The National Library has some of the best collections of Gaelic material anywhere in the world and has been working hard in recent years to make much of this material as available online. This material demonstrates the key role played by Gaelic in Scottish history and culture.

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