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up with access to information

maura @ 10:33 pm

I have never done this before, but I just sent an email to a big list of family and friends asking them to sign a petition in support of open access to federally-funded research. I’m not a spammer, I promise! I just feel very strongly about this issue.

Here’s what I sent:

Dear family and friends,

Apologies for this mass email, but I’d like to ask your help with a cause that I believe is very important. There’s a petition that began recently to ask the White House to require academic and scientific research funded by federal dollars to be made available for all to read free of charge. This is called open access publishing, and support for open access has been growing in the scholarly and library community over the past several decades.

Publishing used to be an expensive endeavor, but costs have plummeted thanks to the internet. However, a small number of huge corporate publishers still control access to the bulk of academic and scientific research results in the journals that they publish and sell to universities and other institutions, even research that taxpayers fund. Many of these publishers rake in profits of 30% (profits!), even during the recent recession. When research is published open access everyone — students, patients, researchers who don’t work at a wealthy university, you, and me — can read it free of charge. And while it’s unlikely that research results published by librarians like me will save someone’s life, consider the medical knowledge locked up behind corporate paywalls, or scientific research on climate change or other critical issues we face today.

For more details about the issues surrounding open access publishing, fellow advocates have put together a nice, short video that I wholeheartedly recommend:, and a great website:

To join me in supporting open access to federally-funded research, head over to the White House website: Click the “Create an account” blue button to sign up with your name and email address, then head back to this page and click the green “Sign this petition” button. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. The petition has until June 19th to reach 25K signatures, which guarantees an official response from the Administration (which is currently considering a bill called the Federal Research Public Access Act). I’d be ever so grateful if you’d sign it!

Please feel free to share this with others, too! Thanks for listening, and please feel free to ask me any questions about open access publishing, I’m always happy to chat nerdily about it.

Take care,

les tags: ,

i’m in yr park occupying yr access

maura @ 9:21 pm

I took the day off work to celebrate May Day this year by heading into the city to do an open access publishing teach-in with Jill and Alycia, my OA peeps from Brooklyn College. Alycia made a sign, Jill made handouts (paper and web), and I made cards with the URL for the web handout. It was rad: although the chilly rain, early hour, and a timeslot up against someone famous made for a small crowd, we had some great conversations about open access with folks who stopped by.

oateachinholding oateachincards

I hung out at the Free U until midafternoon when I had to leave to pick up Gus from school. There was a great vibe in the park, friendly and mellow, and it was fun to wander around and see the groups of people clustered together reading, discussing, and, in some cases, drawing. I ran into a coupla folks I know (though not my labor doula, who’d called me out of the blue the day before when she saw my name on the class list). I listened in on the session about the imagery of protest and Occupy by Occuprint, a group collecting and sharing the posters created by Occupiers, which was really cool.

At the beginning of the day there were only a handful of park rangers at the park, but as the day wore on and got sunnier + more crowded police started showing up. I felt a bit more tense as the day progressed, too — there were intermittent helicopters starting around 1-ish and the occasional paddywagon with sirens on driving by the park, though again, the park itself was pretty non-threatening. I had to leave before the marching started for which I was both glad and sad. Despite preparations like not bringing my nice water bottle, I really didn’t want to get arrested. Also, the older I get the less I’m into hanging out in large crowds of people, even if it’s for something I want to do (like see a band play, e.g.). On the other hand, the photos and videos I saw of the marches later made me wish I’d been able to stay: that good feeling that can accompany solidarity is lovely and was clearly evident.

Even though there are no firm rules, I did try to keep to the no work no housework no shopping no banking spirit of May Day. Definitely that = yes hanging out with your kid, which meant buying him a cookie at a (non-chain!) bakery near his school while we chatted about his day. It also meant yes laundry, because my inner stinky hippie forces me to hang most laundry dry which takes time, and we needed clean clothes. But otherwise I was pretty good at taking the day off, an accomplishment in itself, I think.

Photo on the left by Alycia and on the right by me.


here’s the thing of it

maura @ 9:57 pm

Just so you know, this is going to be a short, boring, bragging post.

I’ve got lots of balls in the air right now, and one of the things I’m doing is looking to see where my scholarship has been cited. It’s just the best kind of nerd high to see that one of my articles has been cited once, another 3 (!) times. And the one that’s been cited 3 times has been viewed over 1,400 times, according to the journal’s website!

I’m jonesing to see how often the article that was published last week has been viewed, but that journal doesn’t make those #s visible in the author interface. Plus it’s probably too soon for anything real. Although, when I tweeted about it (see, told you it’d be braggy), someone who has 1900+ followers retweeted me, so that’s something.

I’ve got other stuff to finish tonight, but tomorrow night I’ll be looking to find my top commented-on posts at the library blog I contribute to.

And I leave you with this: go, open access publishing, GO!