GLAM Ambassador was coined after Wikipedia's very successful programme of Campus Ambassadors which helps students with a recognized point of contact on-campus (sometimes virtually) to turn to for advice on how to best use and improve the encyclopaedia and discuss the eternal issues of copyright and plagiarism. However, there are some problems with the word Ambassador:
- Authority is implied when a GLAM Ambassador has no literal authority to speak on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation (who operate Wikipedia) or on behalf of groups such as Wikimedia UK, an independent member chapter promoting the interests of Wikipedians and other content contributors in the UK.
- The word "Ambassador" can discourage prospective volunteers. Someone who would like to engage with their local museum or archive is likely to believe they ought to ask an experienced Ambassador to do it without realizing that they probably already have the skills to just get on with it.
- Similarly there is the perception that we ought to have official training or certification to be an Ambassador.
I propose to use the term e-volunteer to describe the range of people that I would hope to see take part in our vision of a UK wide GLAM outreach network. The term can then encompass ambassadors along with any volunteer helping their favourite institution with their presence on the internet, staff within an institution actively helping with improving Wikipedia content and releasing media in support and those people who are acting as a point of contact between Wikipedians and Institutions but who prefer not use the authoritarian or overly official sounding term Ambassador.
See GLAMcamp_London for the next planned e-volunteer networking event on 21st June 2011.