As we conclude our celebration of International Open Access Week, we asked our team to reflect on what joy in open access looks like for them.
Zoe Wake Hyde, Community Development Manager
As someone who has worked for many years in open access and open education, I have a somewhat complicated relationship to the theme we chose for this year’s OA Week. I have found genuine joy in doing work that I care deeply about, particularly in the relationships I have forged and the sense of belonging that the open community can inspire. But I’ve also experienced some pretty profound despair when things have gotten hard, progress has stalled, outside influences interfere (hello, pandemic) and our efforts have been co-opted by those who created the problems we’re trying to address in the first place.
Joy is personal. Open work feels personal. It’s natural and, frankly, wonderful to find joy in this kind of work, but there is also always the risk of hurt that comes along with it. I don’t have any tidy solutions here, but there is a balance I am learning to manage between investing myself in my work and keeping enough distance that I can manage the tough times. I also think we should strive to learn from the incredible social justice movements that have come before us; nothing is ever entirely new and we would be wise to remember that we are far from the first to consider the personal costs of doing purpose-driven work.
What I am sure of is that whatever the risks of embracing joy, my work and my life are better for it.
I can never resist a good book recommendation, so here goes: Joyful Militancy – Building Thriving Resistance in Toxic Times
I also found this in the wilds of Twitter recently and felt it spoke to what I’ve written about here:
…the advice that I would give myself would be something like ‘don’t despair.’ Don’t despair.— Dr. Joshua Bennett (@SirJoshBennett) October 18, 2022
—Saidiya Hartman pic.twitter.com/hWg3PQ9FSo
Bonnie Russell, Project Manager
As a librarian, I think a lot about how to ensure access to information of all kinds. Prior to joining the Humanities Commons team I spent almost 10 years in scholarly publishing, and I grew increasingly concerned about the sustainability of current publishing models. There is a growing barrier to access for many who are not affiliated with institutions or who are at institutions that simply can’t afford the increasing subscriptions in the current market.
For me, the joy in OA is bringing information to everyone, regardless of position and financial means. OA allows everyone equal access to information, and at the same time it empowers everyone to disseminate their work widely. OA levels the playing field. It connects global collaborators, and it allows those who want to research and create to build on the work that has come before.
Scholarship is becoming increasingly multimodal. Undergraduate students in the humanities are taught not just writing, but often work with audio, video, and video games. As these formats continue to grow journals and monographs won’t disappear, but they will come under increasing competition for views. OA offers these students and scholars the ability to share their work widely when many publishers simply can’t find a way to publish these new formats. My joy at this moment is being a part of the Commons and working to think about not just what’s happening now, but how we can support these new formats in the future.
Larissa Babak, User Engagement Specialist
When I think about finding joy in open access, my memory points me back to a collection of “aha!” moments.
As part of my experience as an instructional designer, I’ve had numerous opportunities to talk to faculty about open educational resources. There are so many incredible OERs available, but often, faculty are not sure where to start when looking for an OER. Joy arrives in the “aha!” moments when a faculty member who is passionate about all the benefits of open access finds the right text for their course.
As part of the Commons team, I constantly have my own, joy-filled “aha!” moments, too. Regularly, I’ll browse the CORE repository and spot a deposit with a fascinating title, or a colleague will share a deposit I might find of interest. In the user support I provide on the Commons, I’ve had the privilege to meet numerous journal editors who are moving their journals to the Commons in order to ensure their work is available to all. Each of these meetings are inspiring to me in the enthusiasm, dedication, and commitment brought to the cause of open access.
In these ways, joy feels like the proverbial lightbulb going on inside my brain. Joy can be found in my personal moments of finding open access texts that inspire me, but also in the ability of open access to bring people together.