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A Miami Moment with ... Jen Waller

10/18/2012

Jen Waller
Jen Waller
Jen Waller values access to information, and she is now an advocate. As interdisciplinary librarian and international studies librarian at Miami’s King Library, Waller chairs a committee that promotes open access to scholarly research. Next week, Miami‘s libraries host a series of events for Open Access (OA) Week, Oct. 22-26. (See related article.)

Q: What is open access?

A: I have a wonderful definition to share with you from Peter Suber, the leading scholar promoting open access. Open access is the ‘free, immediate, online access to the results of scholarly research, and the right to use and re-use those results as needed.’ Librarians work with faculty and scholars on how this idea can work in practice. For instance, so much scholarship is tied up in published journals that have traditionally been closed access and require a subscription. Rising journal costs, shrinking budgets within libraries and restrictions on copyright prevent access to a lot of scholarly work. But most importantly, it’s about access – so that scholars can get the greatest reach for their work, and so everyone has the ability to read their work.

Q: So what is faculty to do when they must publish in closed journals for their fields?

A: We don’t want to diminish the value of traditional publishing, and of course, they need to continue to publish, but open access isn’t just about open access journals. Another route to open access is for those articles to be deposited in institutional repositories. An Author’s Addendum to their contracts will give scholars the right to deposit their journal article into their institution’s repository, and some author agreements already allow it outright. Miami’s librarians can help faculty with this process and provide them with the appropriate language to include in their contracts. We have a number of resources available online, and any librarian can discuss this with faculty, including members of the Libraries’ Scholarly Communication Working Group: Jennifer Bazeley, John Kromer, Kevin Messner, John Millard and Andy Revelle. They have worked diligently on this issue for several years, and they are incredible experts on open access and scholarly communication.

Q: I understand the librarians at all three Miami campuses joined the worldwide open-access (OA) movement? What does that mean?

A: We voted to pass an open access policy last spring that requires that all articles we (Miami librarians) publish be deposited in Miami’s institutional repository, The Scholarly Commons, or – if this isn’t possible – it requires that we generate a waiver to the policy. This way, these articles will be freely accessible to other librarians, researchers, and scholars worldwide. It is a mandate that we put on ourselves. We ‘talk the talk’ about open access, so we felt it very important to ‘walk the walk’ as well. We are advising faculty, and we wanted them to know we are following our own advice. Many universities and some departments have policies around the nation, but now we are one of only two library departments to pass this in the U.S.

Q: How did you get involved with all of this?

A: I joined Miami two years ago, and Dean (Judith) Sessions appointed me chair of the libraries scholarly communication working group. I began immersing myself into this issue and became more interested. This semester I am co-facilitating a faculty learning community (FLC) regarding this issue, and I think it is going well. I also serve on the Research and Scholarly Environment Committee for the Association of College and Research Libraries, a national organization. I also worked on a statewide committee to bring in national experts to discuss this issue. It’s been an excellent opportunity all around.

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