On Saturday, March 31, graduates and faculty members of the University of Denver (DU) Morgridge College of Education (MCE) teamed with the Denver Public Library (DPL) on an extracurricular activity at the Leon Gallery – hosting an Art + Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon. The group is part of ArtHyve, a Colorado collective of activists, artists, and archivists. The goal of the Art + Feminism campaign is to improve coverage of cis and transgender women, feminism, and the arts on Wikipedia. Since 2014, Art + Feminism has coordinated over 500 events to edit, create, and improve thousands of Wikipedia pages. For ArtHyve, hosting a Wikipedia-Edit-a-Thon is an example of its their commitment to document creative communities.

Co-founded by MCE Library and Information Sciences alumna, Jessie De la Cruz (MLIS’ 11), and her best friend, noted Colorado Creative Sigri Strand, ArtHyve’s mission is to “transcend and challenge mainstream art representation and to celebrate, preserve, and document the creative communities and practices throughout our state.” As a nonprofit organization, it fulfills its mission through developing public programming, workshops, and archival exhibitions to inspire creative engagement.

“It’s not an accident that there are multiple DU alumni and faculty involved,” said Kate Crowe, MCE affiliate faculty member of Library and Information Sciences (LIS) and DU Curator of Special Collections and Archives. “ArtHyve’s mission, to create a community-based arts archive that documents the creative history of this city and state, dovetails well with DU’s tagline ‘a great private university dedicated to the public good.’”

Crowe continues, “The Art + Feminism wikithons, which have been around for the last five years, are also run by grassroots groups of volunteers who want to make the history of women in the arts more visible. Participating in these kinds of programs is just one of the many ways that ArtHyve, DPL, and the LIS program can use the research skills we learn in school to make a positive community impact.”

According to Jane Thaler (MA ’16), marketing director of ArtHyve,  “[hosting an] Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-a-Thon is a natural fit for our organization because not only were we founded by two creative women, but also because part of our mission is to preserve and document Colorado’s creative community. And what better way to get the word out about our creatives than to add them to the most used reference tool in the world?”

Only ten percent of Wikipedia editors are women, and Saturday’s event worked to change that. At the end of the day, the group saw 519,000 words added, 40 total edits, 16 articles edited, and 4 new articles added. The group included, in addition to De la Cruz, Strand, Crowe, and Thaler, alumna Hana Zittel (MA’ 14).

Robin Filipczak (MLIS ’11), a reference librarian at Denver Public Library (DPL), has produced a local installation of the Race Card Project. The Race Card Project is an initiative created in 2010 by Michele Norris—a former host at NPR—who describes it as “a place for people to talk about race and cultural identity in only six words.” In a recent Colorado Public Radio (CPR) broadcast with “Colorado Matters” host Nathan Heffel, Filipczak spoke about the library’s installation, a poster board where library visitors can share their six-word stories on postcards.

The installation began in July 2016 and has since collected hundreds of responses. In the CPR broadcast, Filipczak said she was empowered to do more to deepen the conversation around race and support her community after attending the 2016 Public Library Association national conference in Denver. The installation has been met with enthusiasm from other librarians, and will expand into additional DPL branches this fall. Furthermore, the project is expanding the view of libraries beyond a repository for books; rather, libraries are true public forums that promote community connections, freedom of ideas, and civil discourse, and are environments well-suited to host what Filipczak calls “thornier” conversations.

Filipczak also credits the Morgridge College of Education’s Library and Information Science program with her professional success, citing her specialization in reference and user services and faculty support in networking and hands-on experiences. She enjoys working in reference services—landing her dream job at DPL right out of school—in order to be on the front line of working with customers and helping to share information and resources.


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