GLAM Annual Report 2019 | Wikimedia CH

Introduction & Strategy

Wikimedia CH can look back upon a successful year of achieving more stability, continuity and diversity for the GLAM program. We consistently followed the GLAM strategy, and the results are showing.

We moved forward in establishing valuable partnerships with important institutions. These included, among others, the Swiss National Sound Archives and the archives of the Montreux Jazz Festival, which have engaged us for Wikidata projects on audio and audiovisual content.

At the international level, Wikimedia CH fostered collaboration with Wikimedia Germany and Wikimedia Austria to spread the vision, mission and essence of one strong Wikimedia Movement, instead of single-country activities. Moreover, we took a big step forward with technology. We extensively improved the GLAM Statistical Tool and the WMCH Map Service. Our technical developments have received positive feedback from our partners, from every audience where the tools have been presented and from GLAM community members, who became active in analyzing the free, accessible statistics and presenting the tools to their GLAM contacts and networks.

When delivering programming and evaluating metrics, we concentrated on quality more than quantity by continuing programmatic formats that have functioned well in years past. We did our best to strengthen our partner relationships by fulfilling growing requests from GLAM institutions to provide staff training on Wikimedia projects and by supporting our partners in GLAM + Wikidata activities. Also, we learned that it is useful to balance continuity with diversity. The GLAM community likes to explore and research a variety of collections, archives and institutions. Therefore, to keep the volunteer community motivated, it makes more sense to plan activities less frequently if the activities are quite similar to one another.

Our reputation has grown a lot, and Switzerland’s GLAM institutions consider us to be a valued and trusted partner. In 2020 and beyond, we look forward to expanding upon and enhancing those activities that have proven successful, scalable and responsive to our multicultural community.

Continuity & Scalability

We developed scalable projects and solutions in 2019. On the one hand, the continuity helped to build community health and enhance retention. On the other hand, it built trust with GLAM institutions.

Action Day 2212 at the ETH Library in Zurich aimed to improve the quality of Wikipedia articles about 2,212 Swiss municipalities. We used the proven edit-a-thon format to train library staff on working in Wiki projects. They gained valuable skills as they used nearly 1,000 historical photographs to enrich more than 800 Wikipedia articles. The head of the ETH Library Image Archive estimated that, without the event, it would have taken the library approximately three years to achieve the same results.

Article in Arcinfo about historical aerial photos. (#3 - Photo credits at the end of the page.)

Wikimedia CH’s activities for the International Museum Day and International Archives Week serve as a good example of offering continuity in programming and scaling up a successful format to meet other community needs. For the second year, Wikimedia CH participated in the International Museum Day. We actively involved two other chapters – Wikimedia Austria and Wikimedia Germany – in an online campaign to improve the presence of museums on Wikipedia. We then applied the same format to the International Archives Week. Working with our ongoing partner, the Association of Swiss Archivists, we ran an online campaign to enhance the presence of Swiss archives on Wikipedia.

For both events, we used online geographical maps to quickly identify the information gaps that needed their attention. These maps were the seed that grew into WMCH Map Service (described in the upcoming digital competence and technology section).


Our work with libraries and archives demonstrates how we diversified our portfolio in 2019. Wikimedia CH has partnered with many cultural institutions in Switzerland, but until 2019, we had been less active in the Italian-speaking area. Likewise, our partnerships had not focused as heavily on the country’s audio heritage. In 2019, we reached out to the Swiss National Sound Archives (also known as the Fonoteca), the federal repository for the preservation of Swiss audio and audiovisual heritage. The archive is located in the city of Lugano, in the Italian-speaking area of Switzerland.

We set the cornerstone of our new partnership with a Wikidata project that focuses on two objectives: (1) cleansing data and uploading metadata and (2) delivering the archive a logic for easy metadata synchronization between Wikidata records and the institution’s digital database. We have already begun scaling up this project for 2020 in collaboration with the Montreux Jazz Archives, which preserves and celebrates over 5,000 concerts from the Montreux Jazz Festival stretching back 50 years.

In addition to the Wikidata project, we supported a GLAM on Tour at the Fonoteca, using the proven, scalable GLAM on Tour format. Our GLAM community didn’t fear language barriers. We had a big group of participants from Germany, Wikipedians from Italy and participants from Switzerland’s German- and French-speaking regions. Most attendees were experienced Wikipedians, including some who rarely participate in our in-person events. For the first time in history, a Swiss GLAM on Tour sold out a month before the registration deadline, even though we allowed more attendees than originally planned.

Along with the GLAM on Tour, we set up the GLAM Statistical Tool so that Fonoteca staff members could see statistics on their media files uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. They appreciated learning how to access and use the tool.

Knowledge as a Service & Skills Development

Recommendation 7 of the Wikimedia Movement’s 2030 strategy says to invest in skills development, and Wikimedia CH did just that in 2019. Our work aligned not only with the recommendation but also with the express wishes of the Swiss GLAM.

In cooperation with the Association of Swiss Archivists and the Swiss National Library in Bern, we organized GLAMwikiCH Day in March. The event answered the question, “What does Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata offer to galleries, libraries, archives and museums?” Among the more than 60 GLAM professionals from Switzerland and neighboring countries who attended, there arose a clear request for more training so that GLAM staff can participate in Wikipedia projects – special emphasis was placed on how Wikidata can support heritage institutions in the landscape of linked open data.

The next day, we supported a Wikidata workshop in Lausanne. In November, Wikidata Zurich Training 2019 offered GLAM experts the chance to improve their Wikidata proficiency. Our training topics extended beyond Wikidata, too. Hosted by university faculty, WikiNeoComensia involved Wikipedians as guest lecturers in seminar series to train future museum personnel to edit Wikipedia and share the results of their research. Wikimedia CH also supported the Museum of Natural History of Neuchâtel in their project to share their fish fossil collection with the world and, more specifically, with scientists who reach out to them for quality pictures of the fossils. A Wiki template was created to ensure accuracy and consistency when sharing the fossils’ detailed scientific metadata, and our chapter helped the museum to make a mass upload of the images along with this metadata.

Holoptychius flemingi, (an extinct lobe-finned fish) from the Devonian period. (#6 - Photo credits at the end of the page.)

Digital Competence and Technology

Digital competence and technology is an important pillar for Wikimedia CH. In 2019, we extensively further developed our two software applications – the GLAM Statistical Tool and WMCH Map Service – in response to the needs and requirements of Swiss GLAM partners and the GLAM community.

With the GLAM Statistical Tool, institutions access a set of statistics about their Wikimedia content and monitor their media files uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. For example, the Usage Chart (image #8 below) shows how distinct media files from a given institution are used for different Wikimedia projects and pages. In 2019, we deployed the tool in support of many events, such as GLAM on Tour at the Fonoteca and at the Iron Library. We also developed additional functionalities to make the software a more practical tool for GLAM professionals. The additions include new search features for media files, a statistical drill-down by image category and an algorithm that suggests how unused media files could be added to selected Wikipedia articles. All these new functionalities will be finalized and tested in the first half of 2020. Finally, we performed a stress test of the GLAM Statistical Tool in 2019 to check the feasibility of a broader rollout, with a positive result. The tool is ready to receive significant amounts of data simultaneously from larger GLAM institutions in the world.

Example of a Usage Chart on the GLAM Statistical Tool. (#8 - Photo credits at the end of the page.)

The other software that our chapter has released and is further enhancing is WMCH Map Service. Editors and institutions can use its interactive maps to visualize georeferenced institutions or sites and the related digital content that is available on and, importantly, absent from Wikimedia projects. Due to its popularity over the past two years, we worked on enhancements to WMCH Map Service, which will deploy in 2020. Besides a graphical redesign, we envisage improving the response-time performance and offering a way to measure the evolution of the related Wikimedia content over time. The tool is on GitHub for further development and for others to use.

Support Free Knowledge!

Join us in supporting access to free and unbiased knowledge. Besides being an active member in Wikimedia CH, or a contributor to Wikipedia and its sister projects, you can give tax-deductible financial support. Wikimedia CH is an independent nonprofit. Your donations directly support some of the most popular collaboratively-edited reference projects in the world.

Photo Credits

1. Aerial view of Agassizhorn, Finsteraarhorn and Grindelwalder Fieschhorn – mountains of the Bernese Alps in Switzerland. A photo by the famous Swiss photographer Walter Mittelholzer that was included in Action Day 2212. This image is from the collection of the ETH Library and has been published on Wikimedia Commons as part of a cooperation with Wikimedia CH. Public Domain. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55818074.

2. Resources at the Iron Library, site of a GLAM on Tour event in 2019. Georg Fischer Ltd. bought the Klostergut Paradies near Schaffhausen in 1918, and in 1952, the Iron Library was established in the buildings of the old convent. It houses the Georg Fischer archives. Photo by Medea7 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79893167.

3. Article in Arcinfo about historical aerial photos. Action Day 2212 at the ETH Library in Zurich aimed to improve existing Wikipedia articles, particularly by enhancing them with historical photographs by the Swiss aerial pioneer Walter Mittelholzer and his successor Werner Friedli that were added to Wikimedia Commons. Photo by Kerstin Sonnekalb - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=88505351.

4. A laser machine at the Swiss National Sound Archives, which safeguards Swiss sound and audiovisual heritage by restoring and digitalizing them for preservation. Photo by Schweizerische Nationalbibliothek, Miriam Bolliger Cavaglieri - Fonoteca Nazionale Svizzera/Phonothèque nationale suisse/Schweizerische Nationalphonothek/Swiss National Sound Archives, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83211249.

5. GLAM meeting in Berlin – 02 & 03 February, 2019. English translation of the prompt in the upper left of the board: “Knowledge as a service – Platform, interfaces and tools for working with GLAMs: What challenges do you see?” Photo by Christoph Braun - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76330401.

6. Holoptychius flemingi, (an extinct lobe-finned fish) from the Devonian period. An example from the fish fossil collection, this image is from the collection of the Natural History Museum of Neuchâtel and has been published on Wikimedia Commons as part of a cooperation with Wikimedia CH. Photo by Agassiz, 1844 - MHNN, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76704703.

7. WMCH Map Service homepage. Screenshot prepared for this report.

8. Example of a Usage Chart on the GLAM Statistical Tool (Canton of Zurich). Photo by By Ilario - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=88617272.

9.Pfäffikersee by night. Pfäffikersee (or Lake Pfäffikon) is a lake in the canton of Zurich. The lake was created in the last ice age when a moraine blocked off the ability for the lake to empty north towards Winterthur. Photo by Lriese 1 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49061475.