I’ve been conflicted about whether to write this post, and finally decided to just get it out there. I’m psyched about the momentum OA is gaining, thanks in large part to the years of hard work done by information folk and activists (starting long before I even considered library school as an option). I’m a fan of SPARC, ATA, Create Change, and the like.
But – and in part due to this very momentum we’re gaining – I think it’s important for those of us in the movement to look at ourselves critically, and question whether we are (to paraphrase Alice Walker) being the change we wish to see in the world.
To me, OA is at heart about fairness and inclusiveness. (Some may disagree and say it’s all about “speeding progress” or some such, which is cool, but not what lights my fire the way justice does.) Therefore, I want to look at the public face of the OA movement in North America where I live and work, and ask how fair and inclusive we are being. Because I think there are a couple areas in which we could use some recalibrating. To begin with, there’s…
Open Access Day
OA day is on Sukkot; the first day of Sukkot to be exact. I’ve complained my fair share about the Canadian federal elections being called for a pretty major Jewish holiday, but at least you can vote in advance. And, well, Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn’t really about fairness, access and inclusiveness, so it’s not really any surprise that he’d ignore the holiday of a major world religion in his election call.
However, OA is about fairness, access and inclusiveness. So I expect better from us. You can’t really celebrate OA day in advance, when the coordinated international efforts, complete with live streaming webcasts, are happening on a day you’re hanging out in your Sukkah.
I think OA Day is a fabulous idea — kudos to SPARC and whoever else may have thought it up! But really folks, most desk calendars these days are printed with the holidays of the major world religions on them, and it wouldn’t hurt us any to look at the calendar before sending out an international press release. We might even go the “extra mile” and google the date to see if there are any big major news media stories relating to this upcoming date, like, oh, a neighbouring country’s federal elections. When we don’t, it feels a bit like we don’t care that some won’t be able to participate in the OA festivities. Really.