Proposal: Dictionary of Sydney support letter
- This page is a proposal being developed by our members. The proposal was moved by Liam Wyatt and seconded by Mark Hurd. If you are not a member of the organisation, you may request an account on this wiki using special:RequestAccount, and discuss this proposal on the discussion page.
The Dictionary of Sydney is currently under funding threat from the City of Sydney council (who provide most of the funding) who are considering ON MONDAY whether to withhold this year's previously approved budget. This would shut the project down completely. All the details are here: http://trust.dictionaryofsydney.org/funding-hiatus-threatens-dictionary-2/
I think this project has enormous potential for preserving and sharing knowledge of greater Sydney's history and is a significant example of the flexibility of Creative Commons and the advantages of free-licensing in Australia, education and the humanities.
The Dictionary is asking people to write to the City of Sydney Councillors to express their support for the continuation of the project in advance of the budget meeting on Monday. Lots of details about this are listed on their blog here: http://trust.dictionaryofsydney.org/letter-writing-campaign-2/
I think Wikimedia Australia should too.
Aside from the various reasons listed on their blog, the most important point from Wikimedia's point of view is that the vast majority of the professional historians who were commissioned to submit text chose to do so under the CC-BY-SA license. While I was working there I helped them institute their copyright policy which allows all authors to opt in this free-license - as part of the Dictionary's broader plan to work with, rather than compete against, Wikipedia. You can see the vast amount of content available freely by going here http://dictionaryofsydney.org/browse/entries and clicking "sort by license".
Budget Implications: none.
Timing: City of Sydney Council meeting is Monday 30 July. This letter should be sent first thing Friday 27th to have a good chance of being read. This gives half of Wednesday and all of Thursday for comments.
Ideally, the letter should be send as an email from an official WMAU address to each of the City of Sydney councillor's addresses listed at the bottom of the Dictionary's blogpost 
Proposed Text of Letter
On behalf of Wikimedia Australia, I write to express our concern about the imminent closure of the Dictionary of Sydney due to the City of Sydney's delays in releasing sponsorship funds.
Wikimedia Australia is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, officially recognised as a national Chapter of the Wikimedia movement - the volunteer community behind Wikipedia and other online educational resources. We would like to express our support for the Dictionary of Sydney project not only for the quality content that it has produced but also for the globally pioneering role it has played in its use of free-licensing. The Dictionary of Sydney provides the vast majority of its content with a "Creative Commons" copyright license that ensures the material can be used by third parties under very open terms. This is considered world's best practice and is consistent with the principles espoused by the "Open Educational Resources" and "Open Source Software" communities globally. It should be noted that the official State history project of Minnesota in the USA, entitled "MNOpedia" http://www.mnopedia.org/ has used the Dictionary of Sydney as the inspiration for their comparable copyright policy.
The strong stance of the Dictionary of Sydney on open access and collaboration with historians both locally and further afield has ensured that the content it has created is both legally and practically compatible with Wikipedia, the world's fifth most visited website. As a result, many of the Dictionary's articles about important people, places and events have been integrated into Wikipedia, including but not limited to:
- "Florence Violet McKenzie" (Australia's first female electrical engineer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florence_Violet_McKenzie)
- "Glebe Island" (a crucial part of Sydney's economy for centuries http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glebe_Island_%28New_South_Wales%29)
- "Sydney Artists' Camps" (one of the most significant art movements in Australia's history http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_artists%27_camps)
We draw your attention to the comprehensive acknowledgement of the Dictionary of Sydney at the bottom of each Wikipedia article that uses Dictionary material as the source of its content. Without the Dictionary of Sydney, and without its pioneering efforts in open access, this content simply would not have been available to the online encyclopaedia and its wider audience. It would be a great shame to see this outstanding collaborative digital history project fold.
Wikimedia Australia urges the City of Sydney to ensure the continued funding and support for this project, without which the global appreciation of Sydney's history would be very much poorer.
If you would like to contact Wikimedia Australia or one of our Sydney based members for further information on this or related matters we would welcome your enquiry.