Monday, January 27, 2014

Contributing to Wikipedia Articles on Music: An Interview with Bob Kosovsky of NYPL's LPA - 01-27... METRO

Members in the news: Bob Kosovsky

METRO’s Wikipedian-in-Residence Dorothy Howard talks with Bob
Kosovsky about editing articles on music and music manuscripts on
Wikipedia. The NYPL Library of the Performing Arts, Music Division has
held three Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons, hosting its first in 2011 titled
“Wikipedia! The Musical!”

DH: Tell us a little about your experience with Wikipedia. When did you first get started editing?

BK: I first registered for Wikipedia in July 2006 because I kept
hearing about it in the news and though it was another Web 2.0 technique
that I should learn. That summer, I was working with a lot of sheet
music from musicals. One of the difficulties I encountered was capturing
information about the lesser-known musicals especially those from the
turn of the 20th century, and having that information handy. Although I
found some entries in reference books, I kept thinking that it would be
helpful if I created my own reference tool, a collection of
bibliographic information. As I began to collect this information, I
thought "Why not add it to Wikipedia?" So I began my editing career by
working on articles devoted to turn-of-the-century musicals and the
people involved with them.

What topics do you edit most as an employee of the New
York Public Library at the New York Public Library for the Performing

a trained musician who is interested in the performing arts, I edit
articles primarily dealing with the performing arts, especially on
music. One pet project of mine is creating articles on some of our
intellectually valuable music manuscripts. For decades we have kept a
file of published journal articles on these manuscripts. Those articles
have been essential in creating Wikipedia entries.

Beyond that pet project, I don't have a systematic plan and edit
whatever strikes my fancy within the sphere of my subject specialty. I
try to edit things that I regard as being helpful to others that come to
my attention as a result of work, through reference questions, or
through dialogues on music-related email lists that I follow. I once had
an email reference question where the patron asked who was the
"Broadway Rose" mentioned in Betty Comden's and Adolph Green's lyrics to
the song "Conga" from Leonard Bernstein's musical "Wonderful Town."
That made me create an article on Broadway Rose. Some time ago a
European music librarian lamented that Wikipedia did not have a detailed
list of composer catalogs (necessary tools in field of music
scholarship). So I took it upon myself to add bibliographic information
to the article "Catalogues of classical compositions."
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