Skip to content

Talking to Students about Open Access

January 19, 2022

Last month I was contacted by a student at my alma mater – they oversaw the department’s newsletter and were looking for people to interview for their alumni column. Among the questions sent to me was an insightful one about open access. They wanted to know what I thought current students in the department, especially those on the Publishing & Editing track, should know about open access.

Often, as librarians we discuss open access with students through the frame of how it can affect the access and affordability of course materials (especially textbooks) and research resources. It can be easy to draw students in with the cost of textbooks, or a conversation as to why the library can’t afford a certain database or journal. What if students aren’t introduced to open access issues as just passive consumers of information, but as those who will have an opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the future of open access to information? With students on the Publishing & Editing track, we can assume they have an interest to work in the industry – at a journal, magazine, newspaper, or publishing house. They want to be part of the process that packages information and provides access points for the reader/consumer. How might that perspective change the conversation of open access and its relationship with the students?

As consumers of information (purchasers of textbooks or subscribers to magazines) a student has one view of open access – mainly how it saves them money or provides more value to the information gathering endeavors. Open access is often behind the scenes. A link they click in Google Scholar or in the library’s catalog may be open access, or it may be a subscription from the library – often they don’t know or don’t care. It is a means on an end that they don’t necessarily understand but can value when it is brought to their attention.

Some students may end up being authors or content creators, and in that frame open access might have more meaning, at least regarding their rights as a creator. They may worry about publishing in an open access journal or putting their content in an institutional repository because they are worried about someone plagiarizing their ideas or stealing their findings. The free availability that was so important to them as consumers isn’t as appealing. Though as content creators they may begin to consider the role publishers play in information access, at least considering whether they are willing to forego their rights to their content in exchange for publishing in a well known journal.

Rarely though do we have the opportunity to discuss open access from the perspective of future members of the publishing industry. The third, and potentially most influential, side of the issue. In the current structure, both content creators and information consumers are at the whims of publishers. They are the ones that have the distribution models in place, and name recognition, to still serve as influencers in the information industry. But open access model is slowly starting to move the dial, and students currently in the Publishing & Editing track will have the opportunity to be advocates for open access in their industry and active participants in furthering open access content and the cause of free/accessible information.

As an answer to the student’s questions, I brought up the example of misinformation or “fake news” and how easily that type of information, and the content creators of this information can spread their misinformation through social media. The monetary cost of “credible” information, especially those from more traditional newspaper/magazine sources results in a paywall that keeps that information from people. The lack of open access to credible and reliable information sources means that those more moderating voices are often missing from online discussions and social media posts.

This barrier to information access is affecting our society. Libraries often have been the stop gap, absorbing the cost of information and providing “free access” as a public good. But the rising cost of information, and increasing attacks on libraries’ roles in their communities, has become a barrier to this access. The rising costs of subscriptions have pit libraries and publishers against each other, but we need to work together if we are going to fight misinformation and restore the value of more measured information sources. The current model of publishing is quickly becoming unsustainable, but today’s students will be tasked with finding a different model for publishing and distributing information. So, it doesn’t hurt to start talking to them about open access early, and often.

The Thinking Behind Misinformation

January 11, 2022

While misinformation has been on the public mind the last few years, libraries have dealt with this problem for a long time.  What many librarians may not be aware of are some of the psychological factors at play when people choose to believe misinformation.  Here is a summary of a few of those ideas.

Continued Influence Effect:  This idea was new to me but once I heard it the concept rang true. The Continued Influence effect states that once a person believes misinformation that misinformation can sometimes stay in their mind and continue to influence future thinking, even after they have been presented with incontrovertible counter evidence that disproves that misinformation.  The person may even acknowledge that the misinformation wasn’t true, yet somehow the idea maintains a hold in their mind. There doesn’t seem to be a broad consensus why this happens.  Perhaps people cling to information they want to believe.

The Illusory Truth Effect:  This theory posits that people are more likely to believe information that is simple and familiar over the complex and novel.  So phrases that are said repeatedly can make their way into a person’s mind from shear familiarity.  Claims like “people only use 10% of their brain” are a good example of this, since there is no proof of this claim yet many of us believe it from having heard it so often.  The complexity of an idea also matters to the Illusory Truth effect. According to this theory people are more apt to believe simple ideas instead of complex hard to understand ones.  That two plus two equals four is simple and intuitive, but the theory of relativity is complex and hard to grasp, so the mind wants to reject it. Another example, some people entertain the idea that “5g causes COVID” without any rational evidence for that.  Yet, if you consider that idea in light of the Illusory Truth Effect, you can see how people might be drawn to the simplicity of “5g causes COVID”.  That idea, however irrational, is simpler than concepts of spike proteins, viral load, airborne transmission, etc.

Anger and Misinformation:  Information is not emotionally neutral and information that triggers specific emotions will have cause different reactions. Information that triggers anger is especially likely to cause strong reactions from people. With our emotions aroused we are more likely to be swayed by illogical arguments.  Misinformation can use this natural reaction to spread.  Facebook has used algorithms to promote anger inducing content which then generates more clicks and ad revenue.

Confirmation bias:  Most people have heard of this before and the role it can play in misinformation is clear.  People are more susceptible to misinformation that appeals to their preconceived notions about the world.

If you find these ideas interesting, I highly recommend for you to continue reading about them.  Much of the knowledge shared above comes from the excellent Debunking Handbook 2020.  It might give you some ideas to integrate into your information literacy teaching.

How Will Libraries Deliver a Sustainable Future?

December 27, 2021
Event Date: January 20 at 2:00 PM ET // 11:00 AM PT
Join this webinar sponsored by Elsevier to learn about:

What can librarians do to help achieve a sustainable and equitable future for both people and planet? In 2015 the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set an ambitious 2030 target for progress towards such a future. The SDG framework provided a blueprint for action and an alignment around key priorities.

The scholarly communications ecosystem is a critical ingredient to disseminate SDG-related research, but with 8 years left in which to achieve the SDGs, the question is are we moving fast enough and what more can we do? With the global pandemic continuing, carbon emissions increasing and wider inequalities within society, The United Nations has marked 2020 as the decade of action in which collectively we must raise our ambitions and accelerate our efforts towards a more sustainable future.

This webinar will explore unique insights using data related to each of the 17 goals and share the unique experiences of librarians who are already working with the SDG framework before facilitating a discussion about how we can all accelerate action. Register here! Please note: This session will include live language interpreters for Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

Featured Speakers:

Gerald R. Beasley
Carl A. Kroch University Librarian
Cornell UniversityGerald Beasley is currently the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. He has written and presented extensively on various topics including the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Previous to Cornell, Beasley had leadership positions as Chief Librarian and Vice-Provost at the University of Alberta, Edmonton (2013-17); University Librarian at Concordia University, Montreal (2008-13); Director, Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York City (2004-08); and Chief Librarian, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal (1999-2004).

Gwen Evans
Vice President, Global Library Relations
ElsevierGwen Evans joined Elsevier in 2020 as the Vice President of Global Library Relations. Prior to her current role, Gwen spent seven years as the Executive Director of the state agency and library consortium OhioLINK. From 2006 to 2012, she held the position of Associate Professor and the Coordinator of Library Information and Emerging Technologies at Bowling Green State University. Gwen has extensive experience with all types of academic libraries and institutions: academic content contract negotiations on the consortial level; statewide affordable textbook initiatives including OER; and leading, maintaining and creating shared collaborative services in a technology-driven environment. She was also active in the International Coalition of Library Consortia, serving as Chair of the Coordinating Committee. Her recent publications include an Ithaka S+R issue brief co-authored with Roger Schonfeld, titled “It’s Not What Libraries Hold; It’s Who Libraries Serve. Seeking a User-Centered Future for Academic Libraries” and “Creating Diversity in Libraries: Management Perspectives” in Library Leadership & Management with co-authors Mihoko Hosoi and Nancy S. Kirkpatrick.

Professor Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz (Moderator)
Senior Vice President, Research Networks
ElsevierProf. Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz sits on the Shell Science Council, the International Advisory Board of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Panel of Judges for the Queen Elizabeth Engineering Prize. Prof. Brito Cruz is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC), of the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), and of the Academy of Sciences of the State of São Paulo (ACIESP). He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and of the American Physical Society (APS).He has authored and co-authored several scientific papers and has been the President of the University of Campinas (Unicamp) and the President and Science Director of the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). He was awarded the Order of Scientific Merit by the President of Brazil for his contributions to science and technology and the Conrado Wessel General Science Prize for his scientific career. He has also received the Ordre des Palmes Académiques de France, and the Order of the British Empire, (OBE).

Register here for this complimentary 60-minute webinar!

Get Mapping in the New Year

December 20, 2021

We’ve gotten used to seeing maps showing the spread and impact of COVID-19 and its variants. Did you know there is a free tool available to anyone that maps many factors related to the pandemic? It is available from PolicyMap, which uses publicly available data. If this sort of digital scholarship is of further interest, there is also public edition of PolicyMap which enables you to do 3-D mapping using public datasets on all kinds of topics.

PolicyMap has more advanced features associated with its licensed content, but the public edition is a very powerful mapping resource. They have tutorials to help get you started, such as the quick start video of its revamped interface. They also offer a regular schedule of Webinars, including those on “Learning the basics of PolicyMap.”

Mapping is a great way to get started doing digital scholarship projects. Another tool popular in the digital scholarship community is ArcGIS Online. It, too, allows anyone to get their feet wet by offering a freely available version. You just need to login after creating a public account. This option is open to individuals, and “allows you to create, store, and manage maps, apps, and data and share them with others. You also get access to content shared by Esri and GIS users around the world.”

A Push Towards Land Acknowledgements 

December 13, 2021

Land Acknowledgements seem to be a buzzworthy trend in academia recently. I’ve had the privilege to organize several events around Land Acknowledgements for the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL), as well as join a working group at my Institution, Widener University. 

So what is a Land Acknowledgement Statement? I like the UC Berkley definition of a Land Acknowledgement, which is “A Land Acknowledgement is a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories.” 

Usually, a statement is read aloud at the beginning of an event, conference, or webinar, acknowledging the stolen land we reside on, while honoring the indigenous peoples. It’s so much more than a statement, though. It’s a commitment to learn, collaborate, and build meaningful relationships with indigenous communities. The most important part of a Land Acknowledgment statement is the following action. What are you and your institution doing to raise the voices of the indigenous communities in your area? Are you employing indigenous people in leadership roles? Is your library purchasing books, ebooks, journals, films, etc. by and about indigenous peoples? What are the community needs and how can you, as an institution, help? 

Land Acknowledgements are an ongoing commitment that should not be a trend that is forgotten. It’s a commitment to combating erasure, raising awareness, and acknowledging our history. I encourage everyone to bring this issue to the leadership at your institution and begin the process of creating a statement. At Widener, our working group is just beginning, and I look forward to the great work I know we can accomplish.  


A Guide to Indigenous Land Acknowledgement from the Native Government Center 

Acknowledging Native Land is a Step Against Indigenous Erasure 

Native Land Digital 

Guide to Indigenous Land and Territorial Acknowledgements for Cultural Institutions