The Internet Archive announced that is has transformed 130,000 references to books in Wikipedia into live links for 50,000 digitized Internet Archive books in several Wikipedia language editions (including English, Greek, and Arabic). The result of this ongoing work could make Wikipedia more credible because users will be able to source material in a single click.
Students are often instructed not to use Wikipedia as a source in their research papers. One reason for that is likely because some of the claims on a typical Wikipedia page lack links to the source material. Sentences on Wikipedia that lack sources are given a “citation needed” label that instantly helps users know that the sentence may not be accurate. Some teachers allow students to start with Wikipedia – but do not allow Wikipedia itself to be used as a source.
The Internet Archive provided an example of how they are improving Wikipedia.
For example, the Wikipedia article on Martin Luther King Jr. cites the book To Redeem the Soul of America, by Adam Fairclough. That citation now links directly to page 299 inside the digital version of the book provided by the Internet Archive. There are 66 cited and linked books on that article alone.
Anyone reading Wikipedia who wants to see more information on a source can click on the link provided. They can see a couple of pages to preview that book. Those who want to read more (such as students who are writing a research paper) can borrow the digital copy of that book using Controlled Digital Lending. The Internet Archive says Controlled Digital Lending is “analogous to how they borrow physical books from their local library.”
Wired reported that The Internet Archive was in a unique position to improve Wikipedia. Their Wayback Machine service has archived 387 billion webpages since 2001. It has also been digitizing books and other analog media, and has scanned 3.8 million books. The project is ongoing and The Internet Archive is seeking people who want to help with it.