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Monday, October 25, 2021

Campus librarian appointed to Wikimedia Board of Trustees

At its sixth annual Wikimania international conference in Gdansk, Poland, the Wikimedia Foundation appointed UC Davis reference librarian Phoebe Ayers to its Board of Trustees for a two-year term.

The Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization based in San Francisco that operates Wikipedia, and its Board of Trustees directs the business and affairs of the Foundation.

Ayers, who works with students and faculty in the Physical Sciences and Engineering Library, has extensive involvement with Wikimedia. She has been a Wikipedia editor since 2003 and helped plan and run Wikimania. She also published a book in 2008 titled “How Wikipedia Works: And How You Can Be a Part Of It”.

“I’ve done a lot of outreach and teaching about Wikipedia over the years as well,” Ayers said in an e-mail interview. “And I’ve been pretty involved in the community – everything from being active on our mailing lists to helping start a local meet up group for the Bay Area.”

Ayers was appointed to one of the Board’s chapter elected seats and was one of seven candidates who stepped forward for election, according to Jay Walsh, head of communications for the Wikimedia Foundation.

The Board underwent restructuring in April of 2008, increasing the number of Board members to 10 and creating three community seats. Two of those seats are selected by members of Wikimedia’s 29 global chapters.

Although recently appointed, Ayers is already engaged in long term planning for the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia. She said the Board is currently reviewing a draft strategic plan to assess the reach and growth of Wikipedia and the role of the Foundation in that process. One issue attracting their attention is to encourage editors to develop Wikipedias in major world languages such as Hindi, Arabic, and Chinese that are not as large or as well developed as their English or German counterparts.

And while Ayers’ new position comes with a heavy time commitment – 10 to 15 hours a week according to her – she remains enthralled by the Foundation’s vision to creating a world where “single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.”

For Ayers, part of that vision is staying true to its grassroots organization that grew Wikimedia from one to two paid staff in 2001 to the 40 paid staff and internet presence it enjoys today.

“My personal vision for Wikimedia is to make sure that we stay true to our community, which includes everyone who edits, everyone who donates money, and even the readers of Wikipedia,” Ayers said. “We all have a stake in making sure that the site is as high-quality as possible, while staying welcoming and accessible to new editors. We will stay free, open, volunteer and donation-based forever.”

LESLIE TSAN can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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