Those looking for images of the history of Wales, including its medieval past, can now make use of thousands of digital images that have been made available on Wikipedia thanks to the National Library of Wales.
In recent months, the National Library of Wales has been working with Wikimedia UK, a part of the charitable organization that runs Wikipedia, one of the world’s largest and most used websites. So far they have uploaded over 4000 images, including those from their medieval manuscript collections.
Jasons Evans, the Wikipedian in Residence at the National Library of Wales, explains “One of the Library’s key goals over the next few years is to provide ‘Knowledge for All’. We want to make are collections available as freely and as widely as possible, and sharing material with sites such as Flickr and Wikicommons gives us an opportunity to reach a far wider audience than we could ever hope to reach via our own website alone.”
Among the medieval images available on Wikipedia (as well as on the National Library of Wales website) are those from a 15th century account of the life and deeds of Alexander the Great, the Llanbeblig Book of Hours created in the late 14th century, and a copy of the History of the Kings of Britain, one of only a handful of medieval Welsh manuscripts to have been illustrated.
Jason Evans believes that the project has been a great success. “Library collections get exposure and Wikipedia get quality images to go enrich Wikipedia pages,” he said. “Everything we release to Wikipedia is also released on an open licence ‘Public Domain’ so these images can be reused by anyone for free. This encourages the development of educational and documentary resources, for example.”
He adds, “Already images from these manuscripts have generated staggering viewing stats. If you consider that the Wikipedia page for Alexander the Great is viewed on average 150,000 times a month, the one image from our collection used on that page is having a huge impact.”