Librarian advocacy of open access and archiving of social justice movements was the focus of “LACUNY Dialogues: Libraries, Librarians, and Advocacy” at the Graduate Center on January 23, 2012. Five CUNY librarians gave presentations and moderated discussions at the event hosted by Amy Ballmer (Graduate Center), vice-president of LACUNY.
Jill Cirasella (Brooklyn), Alycia Sellie (Brooklyn), and Maura Smale (City Tech) discussed open-access issues.
Maura talked about the dangers posed by the Research Works Act, pending Congressional legislation that would prohibit open access to federally funded research. She cited a New York Times op-ed by Michael B. Eisen, a University of California, Berkley professor, about the implications of this legislation for both researchers and the public.
Alycia summarized the support of CUNY librarians for open access and called attention to the Open Access@CUNY blog and to the Open Access Pledge site for those scholars who review and edit journals manuscripts.
Jill talked about institutions such as Bucknell, Emory, Harvard, Kansas, MIT, and Virginia Commonwealth that have passed open-access mandates to show their support for sharing scholarly research as widely as possible. She also called attention to ROARMAP, a repository of open-access policies.
Jonathan Cope (Staten Island) provided an overview of librarians’ advocacy of open access and discussed what librarians can do to involve other groups and institutions.
Cynthia Tobar (Graduate Center) provided a lively look at community-based archiving. She explained how archives are arsenals of history, law, and democratic accountability, with particular attention to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Cynthia gave Randall C. Jimerson’s Archives Power: Memory, Accountability, and Social Justice as an excellent examination of how archives can give a voice to the voiceless by collecting often-overlooked records.
Cynthia also explained the Welfare Rights Initiative (WRI) Oral History Project, which is creating a digital art archive for WRI at Hunter.
The attendees assembled in three breakout groups to discuss the issues raised by the presenters. Among the suggestions arising from these groups was the need to promote open access both with teaching faculty and within library departments. Sharon Swacker (City Tech) recommended getting open access on the agenda at library department meetings.
It was suggested that LACUNY could promote open access by such means as setting open-access guidelines to be followed by individual libraries. Designating an advocate for open access at each library was encouraged. This advocate could respond to any questions about open access from librarians, faculty, administrators, and students. The importance of helping patrons find open-access articles was stressed.
Cynthia Tobar pointed out that public libraries began as a means of helping those without resources. Jesus Sanabria (Bronx) said that public institutions should have moral worth in addition to measurable value.
Michael Adams (Graduate Center)