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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Amazon disintermediates libraries, Librarians deconstruct libraries, and Congress doubles down on libraries

Three fascinating reads on currents in librarianship today:

First, a disturbing WaPo article by tech reporter Geoffrey A. Fowler describing in detail how Amazon’s growth as a publisher has come at the steepest of prices for libraries: not being able to lease or lend e-books, especially for its most popular titles.

Second, a thought-provoking article by Argentinian librarian Edgardo Civallero about the history and call of libraries to reinvent themselves constantly in service of the needs of people.

Third, an inspiring ALA update on the library-specific and library-eligible funding in the American Rescue Plan. Not only does it grant $200 million to the Institute of Library and Museum Services (most of which will be distributed to libraries through state agencies), but also invites libraries to compete for the $7 billion in funds to bridge the digital and informational divides in our communities: “Participating libraries will receive 100 percent reimbursement for the cost of hotspots and other Wi-Fi capable devices, modems, routers, laptops, tablets and similar devices to loan to patrons.” If these funds can also include 3D printers, portable book scanners, VR equipment, data visualization screens, machine learning stations, and other maker-oriented tech and the software to support it, that represents an enormous opportunity for libraries to re-tool.

How Libraries Can Learn Not to Hate Commencement

This op-ed was published earlier today in the CSU Fullerton student newspaper, the Daily Titan.

Back in the pre-digital age, when university libraries bought physical resources, graduating students knew that the university library collections would continue to be there for them. Even if it meant a trip back to campus, that reservoir of curated knowledge would always be available to enjoy.

These days, graduating students are sadly, abruptly and completely cut off from most of the digital resources that we librarians work so hard to supply and teach students how to use.

How did this happen? How have libraries learned to hate commencement?

[Link to full article]

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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