Access, Openness, and Why We Teach | Peer to Peer Review
“What with the Elsevier boycott (now closing in on 12,000 signatures) and this week’s White House “We the People” petition to make federally-funded research public (which, as I write this, has surged past the halfway point), it feels as if we’re making serious progress toward open access. What has changed is that many scientists and scholars are finally saying ‘this is a crazy way to do things; we can do better. We need scholarship to be more open, more shared, more public.’ As Winston Hide wrote in theGuardian about his decision to resign as associate editor of the Elsevier journal Genomics, ‘I can no longer work for a system that puts profits over access to research.’ My first exposure to what was then called the ‘serials crisis’ was in 1980 or 1981, when I did a library school project and ended up talking to the head of collection development at the University of Texas Libraries... Three decades and an Internet later, the fact that no library can provide access to all knowledge no matter how much money we spend is finally getting through to those who create the stuff. This isn’t a serials crisis; it’s a knowledge crisis – and an opportunity for change. ... Does Information literacy matter? Though some of these seniors are heading off to graduate school, many are not, and I always wonder how those others will apply what they learned through four years of exposure to an academic library and the discipline of research. I believe that the kind of inquiry we encourage matters, that this aspect of a liberal education has the potential to be liberating. Our graduates should be able to seek information, think independently, question authority, and join the conversations through which we discover new things, settle disputes, and solve problems so that our weary, damaged world will be a little bit better. Libraries were invented for the purpose of sharing knowledge. Knowledge no longer needs to be stored on shelve in libraries to be shared. Yet somewhere along the line, we agreed to curtail sharing and define access in a parochial, stingy way, access that leaves our graduates out. But that may finally be changing. If we academic librarians think information literacy is important, we need to do whatever we can to make knowledge more universally shared, not something that we only share with our immediate community. Because that world out there is where our graduates live. Which reminds me . . . have you signed the petition yet?