Turning Open Access Academic Books into BIPOC Art Galleries

One of the best parts about my job as a ScholComm Librarian is working with amazing students on meaningful publishing projects. As part of a team working on a Dept of Ed funded grant with our National Resource Center for Asian Languages, I had the wonderful privilege of collaborating with a team of BFA and MFA illustrators to make Vietnamese language books in support of bilingual K-12 education in Orange County. One of our illustrators, a young, gifted and Black artist by the name of Leah Simone Metters, brought tremendous energy, creativity and leadership to the project.

Now that my Open Science book experiment on the First Gospel (Qn) is almost a year old, over 1000 pages, more than 325,000 words, has over 2500 unique downloads, and is the basis for an upcoming peer-reviewed presentation in the Digital Humanities section of the Society of Biblical Literature this November, it felt like the right time to take the book to the next level of professional publishing. So I decided to commission book cover art, and I could think of no artist better suited to realize my vision for the book than Leah.

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The California State University and academic publishing systems are broken and racist. The only way to save them is to de-corporatize and de-racialize them.

CSU undergraduate students pay on average about $15,000 a year in tuition and fees. Many of our students can’t even afford food or a place to live, not to mention textbooks.

CSU Presidents make on average well over $400,000/year when housing benefits are included. Some attorneys and executives at the Chancellor’s office make more than university presidents. The Chancellor makes $625,000/year, which is more than the combined salary of President Biden ($400,000) and Governor Newsom ($210,000). Administrators have largely grown out of touch with the daily lives, concerns, and needs of students and faculty. They are working for themselves and their corporate welfare classmates, not for us and not for the common good.

The corrupt culture of corporate greed and legalistic voodoo has completely undermined higher education as a call to public service.

BLM happened and is still happening. Virtue signals and woke posturing abound daily from administrators, but have any substantive changes been made to CSU budgets? No.

To borrow a phrase from Ayanna Presley, “policy is my love language.” To take it one step further, for students, “policy and budgets are our love language.”

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Black Collections Matter: Call for a 10% Library Budget Pledge to Support African-American Academic Publishing

Systemic and institutional racism is an enormous problem in academic publishing, and this thoroughly infects libraries as well. Charlotte Roh’s 2018 CARL presentation and accompanying slides should be mandatory reading in this regard, and her citations lead out to lots of other important and relevant scholarly articles and reports. So if you haven’t read Roh’s work, please stop and do so now.

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