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The Library is Open: Keynote for the 2018 Pennsylvania Library Association Conference – actualham
"So I am trying to think about ways in. Ways in to places. Ways in to places that don’t eschew the complexity of their histories and how those histories inflect the different ways the places are experienced. I am thinking that helping learners see how places are made and remade, and helping them see that every interpretation they draw up–of their places and the places that refuse to be theirs– remake those places every hour.

This for me, is at the heart of open education.

Open to the past.

Open to the place.

Open at the seams.

Open to the public.

PUBLIC

So there is our final word, “PUBLIC.” You know, it’s not that easy to find out what a public library is. I googled it in preparation for this talk. It’s like a public museum. It might be open to the public, but does that make it public? But you know, it’s not that easy to find out what what a public university is. For example, mine. Which is in New Hampshire, the state which is proudly 50th in the nation for public funding of higher education. My college is about 9% state funded. Is that a public institution?

I think we may be starting backwards if we try to think of “public” in terms of funding. We need to think of public in terms of a relationship between the institution and the public (and the public good) and the economics of these relationships can be (will be! should be!) reflective of those relationships, rather than generative of them. What is the relationship of a public library or university– or a public university library– to the public? And could that relationship be the same for any college library regardless of whether the college is public or private?

Publics are places, situated in space and time but never pinned or frozen to either. Publics are the connective tissue between people, and as Noble points out, corporate interest in the web has attempted to co-opt that tissue and privatize our publics. A similar interest in education has attempted to do the same with our learning channels. Libraries exist in a critical proximity to the internet and to learning. But because they are places, that proximity flows through the people who make and remake the library by using (or not using) it. This is not a transcendent or romantic view of libraries. Recent work by folks like Sam Popowich and Fobazi Ettarh remind us that vocational awe is misguided, because libraries, like humans and the communities they bounce around in, are not inherently good or sacred. But this is not a critique of libraries. Or in other words, these messy seams where things fall apart, this is the strength of libraries because libraries are not everywhere; they are here.

I know this is an awful lot of abstraction wrapped up in some poetry and some deflection. So let me try to find some concrete practice-oriented ideas to leave you with.

You know textbooks cost way, way too much, and lots of that money goes to commercial publishers.

Textbook costs are not incidental to the real cost of college. We can fix this problem by weaning off commercial textbooks and adopting Open Educational Resources. OER also lets us rethink the relationship between learners and learning materials; the open license lets us understand knowledge as something that is continually reshaped as new perspectives are introduced into the field.

We can engage in open pedagogical practices to highlight students as contributors to the world of knowledge, and to shape a knowledge commons that is a healthier ecosystem for learning than a system that commercializes, paywalls, or gates knowledge. And all of this is related to other wrap-around services that students need in order to be successful (childcare, transportation, food, etc), and all of that is related to labor markets, and all of that is related to whether students should be training for or transforming those markets.

As we focus on broadening access to knowledge and access to knowledge creation, we can think about the broader implications for open learning ecosystems.

What kind of academic publishing channels do we need to assure quality and transparent peer review and open access to research by other researchers and by the public at large? What kinds of tools and platforms and expertise do we need to share course materials and research, and who should pay for them and host them and make them available? What kind of centralized standards do we need for interoperability and search and retrieval, and what kind of decentralization must remain in order to allow communities to expand in organic ways?

I’d like to see academic libraries stand up and be proud to be tied to contexts and particulars. I’d like to see them care about the material conditions that shape the communities that surround and infuse them. I’d like them to own the racism and other oppressive systems and structures that infuse their own histories and practices, and model inclusive priorities that center marginalized voices. I’d like them to insist that human need is paramount. Humans need to know, learn, share, revise. I’d like them to focus on sustainability rather than growth; the first is a community-based term, the second is a market-based term. Libraries work for people, and that should make them a public good. A public resource. This is not about how we are funded; it is about how we are founded and refounded.

Helping your faculty move to OER is not about cost-savings. You all know there are much easier ways to save money. They are just really crappy for learning. Moving to OER is about committing to learning environments that respect the realities of place, that engage with the contexts for learning, that challenge barriers that try to co-opt public channels for private gain, and that see learning as a fundamentally infinite process that benefits from human interaction. Sure, technology helps us do some of that better, and technology is central to OER. But technology also sabotages a lot of our human connections: infiltrates them with impersonating bots; manipulates and monetizes them for corporate gain; subverts them for agendas that undercut the network’s transparency; skews the flow toward the privileged and cuts away the margins inhabited by the nondominant voices– the perspectives that urge change, improvement, growth, paradigm shift. So it’s not the technology, just like it’s not the cost-savings, that matters. It’s not the new furniture or the Starbucks that makes your library the place to be. It’s the public that matters. It is a place for that public to be.

Libraries are places. Libraries, especially academic libraries, are public places. They should be open for the public. Help your faculty understand open in all its complexity. Help them understand the people that make your place. Help your place shape itself around the humans who need it.:
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1 hour ago by robertogreco
Billingsley P[Author] - PubMed - NCBI
PubMed comprises more than 28 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.
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13 hours ago by asaltydog

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