In the fall of 2018, librarians at Berkeley College reached out to faculty to partner on assignments supporting Wikipedia Edit-a-Thons in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month. Over 32% of the students identify as Hispanic and the librarians wanted to highlight contributions of prominent Hispanics and foster pride in the students’ heritage. The students were asked to research and write an article on a Hispanic individual who was omitted or briefly mentioned in Wikipedia. Librarians provided in-class research instruction and emphasized the importance of critically evaluating resources. Once the articles were written, librarians provided instruction on editing Wikipedia so the students could experience the information creation process firsthand. The students were amazed at the ease of editing Wikipedia and the exercise clearly demonstrated its lack of reliability. The hands on approach to digital literacy successfully enabled the librarians to teach information literacy skills to receptive and engaged students.
The Edit-a-Thons also piqued the attention of school administrators and members of the local community. Since 35% of the population of Newark, NJ identifies as Hispanic, a partnering professor was interviewed on a local radio station. She reported that plans are underway for Edit-a-Thons for Black History Month since an even larger proportion of the students identify as Black. The positive press generated from the Edit-a-thons delineated librarians as proactive and innovative instructors who clearly understand the diverse needs of their students