In April, the Libraries hosted “Beyond Barriers: The Community’s Role in Sustaining Diversity,” a panel featuring state and local civic, education and library leaders for an evening of dialogue. Our goal was simple: provide a platform for discussing how these institutions can work together to foster and sustain equity in a diverse society. I was pleased to moderate this conversation which included the university’s Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement Gregory Vincent and Austin Mayor Steve Adler, as well as my professional colleagues American Library Association President Julie Todaro and Texas Library Association President Ling Hwey Jeng. The discussion was broad-ranging and vigorous, addressing both personal experiences with race and participant perspectives on social issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
Mayor Adler’s efforts in launching a framework to address institutional racism in the city of Austin provided the catalyst for this event, but libraries — by virtue of their mission and nature — have long served as a neutral space for community discussions of diversity. Libraries serve diverse communities. Libraries offer information without bias to opinion. Libraries provide resources and services to those without access elsewhere.
Libraries, though, haven’t necessarily highlighted their contributions to social equality and inclusion, because it’s simply part of what they do to serve the public. We hope that the platform provided by this event will be a first step toward embedding the UT Libraries as a participant in larger efforts to build more equitable systems for the community.
Engaging in the conversation is a good first step, but we need to consider playing a larger role to underscore our value as contributors to solutions. While libraries may not be able to stand alone to fix the problems we share as a community, we can certainly be partner agents of change for a better, more equitable Austin.
The University of Texas Libraries wants to send you to OpenCon 2016 in Washington, DC.
If you’re a graduate student with interest in Open Access (OA), Open Educational Resources (OERs) and Open Data who wants to help shape the future of research and education at UT, consider applying for a travel scholarship being provided by the Libraries to attend this year’s OpenCon — an academic conference for students and early career researchers taking place November 12–14, 2016 in the nation’s capital.
The scholarship winner will receive a $2000 stipend — an amount that planners designed cover all expenses for attendees. OpenCon is an excellent opportunity to learn more about open access, open education and open data, to learn how to advocate for these issues, and to network with people from across the globe. The program includes keynote talks, panel discussions, workshops, hackathons, and an opportunity to lobby at the US Congress. It truly is an international conference — last year’s conference included attendees from 5 continents!
In exchange for the stipend, the winner will participate in campus discussions about their experiences at the conference, and share ideas with Libraries administration, faculty and student government leaders about how to make Open Access a campus priority.
UT Austin graduate student or postdoctoral researcher. Attendee agrees to engage in the open discussion on campus and to give updates to undergraduate and graduate student government upon their return.
Please send a statement (no longer than 500 words) discussing how you would work with the Libraries to engage the campus community in discussions of an open agenda for UT.
Submit your statement and resume/CV to Scholarly Communications Librarian Colleen Lyon by Thursday, June 30, 2016. Applicants will be notified with a decision by July 15, 2016. If you have questions about the conference or about the application process, please contact Colleen at 512-495-4244 or email@example.com.
As the world grows larger and closer at the same time, how do we ensure that we grasp the opportunities for sharing knowledge in ways that precipitate the ideas and innovation that will the global community?
Open access has been put forth as at least part of the solution to democratize information and expand knowledge through a lowering of barriers to access.
So what is open access? According to the statement of the 2002 Budapest Open Access Initiative: “By open access, we mean its free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software or use them for any other lawful purpose….” Scholarly Communications Librarian Colleen Lyon has provided a more lengthy explanation of the idea at the Open Access blog.
Vice Provost Lorraine Haricombe came to the UT Libraries with a set of informed priorities for expanding the campus understanding of the concept of open access. Having developed a comprehensive strategy for the libraries at the University of Kansas — spearheading the effort to make it the first public university in the U.S. to adopt a campus-wide OA policy — she’s brought a reserve of energy and ideas to Austin to convert open agnostics to the cause.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that there are some nascent allies on the Forty Acres as the university investigates flipped classrooms and distance learning opportunities, and to that end, the Libraries have joined forces with Texas Learning Sciences to establish a year of awareness-building on concepts of open access with the hope of generating some grassroots momentum toward a campus-wide embrace of open practices.
The “Year of Open” kicked off in September with BYU adjunct faculty and co-founder of Lumen Learning David Wiley, who provided a promising overflow crowd with a high level explanation of open access and discussed the rationale for moving from a resource ownership model to the shared model that is at the heart of the open content movement. Wiley helped develop Lumen Learning as an open access advocacy organization dedicated to increasing student success and improving the affordability of education through the adoption of open educational resources by schools, community and state colleges, and universities. Video of Wiley’s presentation is available for viewing at the Texas Learning Sciences “Year of Open” page.
On November 5, the second “Year of Open” event will feature David Ernst, Chief Information Officer in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, as well as Executive Director of the Open Academics Textbook Initiative — a program developed to improve higher education access, affordability and success for all students through the use of open textbooks. Ernst created and manages the Open Academics textbook catalog — a single source for faculty to find quality openly licensed textbooks — and he and his colleagues are also developing a toolkit to help other institutions interested in starting their own open textbook initiative on campus. He’ll talk to attendees about how the adoption of open textbooks can help overcome the impediments of access and cost to improve student success outcomes.
After the holiday break, the “Year of Open” continues with events in the spring, including talks by Georgetown University professor and Executive Director of Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship Randy Bass (February), and Bryan Alexander (April), senior fellow at the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE), as well as a panel on open access and the future of scholarly communication, also tentatively scheduled for April 2016. Check back with the Libraries calendar for coming details on these and other “Year of Open” events.
The Libraries are looking for a current grad student or post-doc to become a serious advocate for Open Access on the Forty Acres with a unique opportunity to attend an international conference in Europe later this fall.
The Libraries are offering the chance to earn a travel scholarship to attend OpenCon 2015 taking place in Brussels, November 14-16, 2015. OpenCon is an academic conference that brings together students and early career academic professionals from across the world to learn about the issues, develop critical skills, and return home ready to catalyze action toward a more open system for sharing the world’s information — from scholarly and scientific research, to educational materials, to digital data.
The selected applicant will receive a $2500 scholarship to attend the conference — an amount which conference planners have designed to cover all expenses.
This conference is an excellent opportunity to learn more about open access, open education and open data, and to learn how to advocate for these issues. Last year’s meeting convened 115 students and early career academic professionals from 39 countries in Washington, DC. More than 80% of these participants received full travel scholarships, provided by sponsorships from leading organizations, including the Max Planck Society, eLife, PLOS, and more than 20 universities.