Wikipedia integrates digital book previews to help verify citations

Verifying a citation on can be as easy as clicking the online source linked within a page. But what if a citation calls back to a physical book instead, one you’d typically need to find at a library or bookstore?

The Internet Archive and Wikipedia last week said they’ve teamed up to provide digital previews of books cited on Wikipedia pages, making it easier to find and those traditional text sources online. The Internet Archive has already turned 130,000 book references on Wikipedia into links to 50,000 digitized books. Wired earlier reported the news.

“And we are just getting started,” the Internet Archive said in a release. “By working with Wikipedia communities and scanning more books, both users and robots will link many more book references directly into Internet Archive books.”

Users will see a couple of preview pages of the cited book. If they want to keep reading, they can borrow a digital copy of the text via Controlled Lending, similar to how they’d borrow a physical book from the library.

Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, allows volunteers globally to create and edit content. Any information that doesn’t link back to a reliable source can be flagged with “citation needed.” This collaboration aims to make it easier to verify citations that trace back to traditional text, and can help fill in informational gaps. For example, there are now 66 cited and linked books on the Wikipedia article on Martin Luther King Jr. alone, the Internet Archive said.

“What has been written in books over many centuries is critical to informing a generation of digital learners,” Brewster Kahle, digital librarian of the Internet Archive, said in the statement. “We hope to connect readers with books by weaving books into the fabric of the web itself, starting with Wikipedia.”

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