Dear City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone, 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. Sincerely, John Vandenberg President, Wikimedia Australia
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