Fellows Journal

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December 10, 2019

Introducing Talea Anderson, 2019-21 LPC Fellow: A Reflection on Accessibility

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The Fellows Journal is a forum for the current Library Publishing Coalition fellows to share their experiences and raise topics for discussion within the community. Learn more about the Fellowship Program

(Photo credit: See note below)

Where I’ve Come From

For the last couple of years, I’ve been plugging away on a project that began with my participation in KairosCamp, a digital publishing institute run by Cheryl Ball and staff for the journal Kairos. For the camp, I’d proposed the idea of creating a digital text that would challenge readers by forcing them to read, navigate, and perceive the writing in an unfamiliar way. The idea was to replicate a feeling that one may experience when being excluded from accessing a particular space—a level of discomfort that readers wouldn’t expect to have when browsing online. 

As I designed my project, I found myself slipping into talk of simulations. As in, “this project will simulate the experience of [x] disability for [x] assistive device.” When I talked to web accessibility folks on my campus, they were excited about the possibilities of showing faculty how the structure of a webtext can limit or exclude people from reading and engaging with it. What I didn’t realize at the time was that there exists a whole literature about the problems with disability simulations, which can promote stereotypes about people with disabilities, inaccurately represent the full breadth of disabled experience, promote negative feelings about disability, and situate the “problem” of disability in particular people rather than in social and cultural barriers to inclusion (see French, 1992; Lalvani & Broderick, 2013; Nario-Redmond, Gospodinov, & Cobb, 2017; Olson, 2014). Not the territory I wanted to tread with my original project concept. 

Personal Perspective 

I was troubled when I began reading this literature about simulations, largely because I hadn’t been aware of it in the past. Partly, I thought that I should have been inherently cognizant of these issues because I also have a disability. I was born blind and, while I had surgeries that restored part of my vision, some was permanently lost. Recognizing faces is hard for me, as is navigation and a slew of tasks that I’m still identifying now as an adult. That said, I don’t use screen readers and my vision currently doesn’t substantially hamper my reading, unless distance is involved. Some of the key concerns in web accessibility aren’t automatically apparent to me because I fall somewhere between sighted and unsighted. Somehow I needed this reminder as my project evolved. 

In a way, I’ve always felt that I should “inherently” understand both disabled and able-bodied experiences—as if I could understand and empathize with both by sheer force of will. And of course, the truth is, none of us will automatically understand the challenges others face despite having all the best intentions in the world. 

Research Interests and a Call to the Community 

It’s a simple anecdote but I’ve thought about this a lot lately as I start this fellowship with the Library Publishing Coalition. As I continue working with library publishing at my own institution, I am hoping to deepen my engagement with accessibility as well as intersecting experiences that I and others have too frequently overlooked. I’m a Scholarly Communication Librarian and yet haven’t put as much time as I’d like into considering how access extends to people who have perceptual differences in how they read and engage with information. These are issues that deserve renewed consideration even if we are in a profession that’s devoted to fantastic ideals like universal access. There are always assumptions, misunderstandings, and oversights still to explore. 

Over the next two years, I hope to make these concerns a greater part of my focus professionally and share some of the things I find along the way. I’m looking forward to learning from others in the LPC community who have already thought deeply about these issues. In fact, if you have questions or research topics you’d like to see addressed related to accessibility and library publishing, please get in touch—talea.anderson@wsu.edu. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.  

Thank you to the LPC community and leadership for welcoming me in and providing the opportunity to do this work—it’s a privilege I don’t take lightly, and I am grateful. 

Photo Credit: Gray framed eyeglasses, CC0


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December 4, 2019

Introducing A.J. Boston, 2019-21 LPC Fellow: Contingent upon serendipity

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The Fellows Journal is a forum for the current Library Publishing Coalition fellows to share their experiences and raise topics for discussion within the community. Learn more about the Fellowship Program

(Image credit: See note below)

 

It is an honor to have been named in the second cohort of Library Publishing Coalition Fellows. I thank the community and its leadership for welcoming me, and providing structure and support. In this blogpost, I will introduce myself, my history, and my professional interests.

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Best Predictor of Future Behavior

Our campus held a celebration of first-generation students a few weeks ago. A colleague on his way there stopped by and asked if I was first gen. I replied that I wasn’t. There is a bit of further nuance to that, which feels appropriate for me to reflect upon here. No, both of my parents attended college, and in fact both held master’s degrees. It was an incredible privilege to grow up in a home where the idea of higher education was not shrouded in mystique, and I don’t know that I ever independently questioned how tuition would be paid for. I suppose it came up, but never in a way that actually made me feel any real concern. Again, just an incredible privilege.

My upbringing could easily have been much different. I was born in South Korea to extremely young parents, who I recently discovered did not complete high school. When I was put up for adoption, I’ve always assumed the decision must have been largely related to financial concerns. The records show I have an older brother, who was not put up for adoption. Had I been firstborn, I would likely be living in Korea now, presumably engaged in some sort of occupation that would seem foreign to the person I became. Instead, I was raised in Louisville, Kentucky, in a solidly middle-class home, raised by white parents that were firmly married, employed, and socially connected. As I told my work colleague, no, I am not a first-generation college student, at least not technically.

With that part of my story established, let me expose another bit of nuance. Both of my American parents have been wheelchair-bound since childhood. My father, a son of Louisville, caught the poliovirus as a child. His mother had been a nurse who administered doses of the polio vaccine to students in his elementary school. To her regret, she did not vaccinate her son, because of the age cutoff. My mother, a daughter of Cincinnati, had a tumor growth on her spine; the surgeon assigned to her was drunk during the removal operation. My parents met each other at the University of Illinois, which was one of the more handicap-friendly institutions in the region at that time. Perhaps it’s the same for everybody, but it has always felt true for me that who I am today has largely been contingent upon serendipity.

How Quickly We Forget

These are things that rarely cross my mind anymore. I’ve lived in a college town in peaceful, rural Western Kentucky for almost 18 years now. Since 2016, I’ve been employed as a tenure-track scholarly communication librarian and assistant professor. My ethnicity, adoption, and parents’ wheelchairs no longer count among the top ten salient factors of my waking consciousness. Though it takes a painful long time for my family to load in and out of our van, it’s because I have three children who need help buckling in, not two parents who need extra time to strap in. When my wife is asked when she “got” her children, the factual answer is “upon birth” and not some date related to paperwork.

I am spilling guts here because I have realized how I have forgotten these things in recent years. It has been incredibly easy to forget both the privileges I grew up with and those I recently gained. In their use of this LPC platform, past Fellows Charlotte Roh and Reggie Raju have reminded me of my privileges. From what I understand, the work Talea Anderson has planned will do so as well.

My Fellow Fellows

From an external view, my road to scholarly communication was perfectly serene. As Reggie discussed in his introductory blog, he was born the son of indentured labourers, transplanted from India to apartheid-era South Africa. While I put in work to get where I am personally and professionally, the situational challenges I faced were a couple orders of magnitude simpler than had I not been the second born to my family in Korea.

At the 2019 Fellows Forum, Charlotte Roh live-streamed her presentation from home. Roh aptly concluded her talk on personal and professional intersections by revealing her (beautiful) newborn baby under her care. At times, I have wondered how much more productive my research output could be without the sleep deficits that accompany co-raising my three young children. That’s a pretty crude thought for me to have, considering the overall health of our family and the herculean efforts my wife puts in as a mother. In truth, I wouldn’t have a career at all without my immediate and extended familial support networks.

As I’ve become acquainted with Talea, I’ve come to know of her interests in web accessibility. In his twenties, my father served on the public transit board in Louisville, where he had a major impact on accessibility for wheelchaired people in the city. For a decade, I’ve luxuriated in my ability to move freely about in both physical and digital spaces. The intent of Talea’s projects seem to be akin to those of my father’s: advocating independence for those not secured it.

The concerns of Reggie, Charlotte, and Talea are not quite at the forefront of my research agenda. But thanks to them, and the experience afforded to me through this Fellowship, the blips these topics make on my radar are increasingly audible.

(My eldest. Credit: A.J. Boston, 2017.)

 

For Future Research

Let me now return to the ‘introductory’ purpose of this post, and discuss what I hope to bring to the table. The research areas I hope I can help initiate conversation on in the LPC community are open peer-review, open citation data, research assessment reform, and AI/machine learning in research. Open infrastructure and the Latin American publishing model are heavily on my mind as well. I’ve previously written about (and not abandoned) novel methods of introducing students to scholcomm concepts. (I may have a future blogpost in me, critical of my own work, tbh.) Earlier this year, I was wowed by Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s book Generous Thinking, on reconnecting the work of the academy with the community, which has helped inspire my planned future research writing project, centering around methods to make published research not just more accessible, but more comprehensible to public audiences.

It Could All Be Symposium

As part of my Fellowship, I will serve on the Forum Program Committee. At Murray State University, I coordinate two campus-wide student conferences and one statewide conference annually. (I also oversee a student-led journal, and assist with three faculty-led journals.) I’ve come to view conference planning as not dissimilar to managing a journal. As a community, we’re quite familiar with wrongdoing in scholarly publishing. We’ve also grown in our shared public awareness of wrongdoing in scholarly conferences.

Discourse on conferences has become a trending topic, at least in my feeds. Whether it’s been the harm directed toward our Hathcocks, the harm emanating from our Tennants, or the harms we disagree on as harms, it is no longer an option for us to ignore these. How we handle these as conference participants and organizers must be tackled. I am eager to be further conscious of and conversant in these topics, plus many others. To wit: enforcing mic usage at Q&As; making it more of a question than a comment (I’m guilty); slide accessibility; getting the bathroom sitch in order; considerations of alcohol and animal protein in catering; land acknowledgements; and carbon and currency costs of conference travel. I don’t purport to have the answers, but I am coming to learn that asking the questions is a healthy and vital practice.

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Thank you for reading.

Image Credit: Suzy Hazelwood, 2018.


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July 31, 2019

Teaching from the Library Publishing Curriculum

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The Fellows Journal is a forum for the current Library Publishing Coalition fellows to share their experiences and raise topics for discussion within the community. Learn more about the Fellowship Program.

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Quite early in my career, as an editorial assistant in my first real publishing job, I was sent to a semester-long copyediting course, where I learned about the different levels of copyediting, the importance of style guides, and how to mark up manuscript in hard copy.

Copy editing marks from Einsohn’s The Copyeditor’s Handbook

The rest of publishing, I was expected to learn on the job. I learned this at a professional development event, where editorial assistants complained that, with the changes brought about by technology, we were being delegated to administrative assistant roles without growth potential because we were no longer performing tasks that gave us insight into the process (like taking down dictation for their editors, typing up letters, or transferring editorial marks from one hard copy to another). We want to be copied on emails! was the rallying cry.    

That publishing is still very much an apprenticeship field has not changed, as Cheryl Ball so eloquently argued in her email to the LPC list-serv on the value of experience, and how volunteering can be a stepping stone to one’s career. [1] However, this isn’t necessarily clear to people managing volunteers or early career professionals, who might not be aware of their roles as mentors and mentees. There are also those in the library publishing community who are brand new to publishing or aspects of publishing. I include myself in this group – while I worked on monographs, casebooks, workbooks, and textbook programs in my previous career, I had never been responsible for a journal until I entered librarianship. As a scholarly communication resident at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I suddenly found myself responsible for a journals list. (Thank you Marilyn for trusting me!)

This is why I was glad to be given the opportunity to engage with the new Library Publishing Curriculum, as an instructor for the Content Module along with Joshua Neds-Fox. We’ve now taught from the curriculum in two formats: as an all-day in-person workshop and as a synchronous online workshop in 1.5 hour weekly increments over 4 weeks.

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July 24, 2019

Social justice driving library publishing

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The Fellows Journal is a forum for the current Library Publishing Coalition fellows to share their experiences and raise topics for discussion within the community. Learn more about the Fellowship Program.

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“It is my assertion that library publishing programmes should be guided by the possibility of realizing the field’s immense potential for growth and development of the African continent. The need for a social justice driven library publishing agenda must be at the epicentre of this development process.”

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It is not the norm to begin with a disclaimer, however, in this instance it is necessary given that the larger readership of this blog is from the global north. This blog is written through a global south lens; a lens that has a deep affiliation to the fundamental principles of open access and that the sharing of research results is essential for the furtherance of research and the growth and development of society.

I was fortunate enough, as a fellow of the LPC, to attend the 2018 forum meeting. What I was longing to hear at the meeting, and maybe naively so, was discussion on the exploitation of this relatively new library service to radically improve the distribution of research results for the growth and development of society. It was clearly evident that we have two different parallels, though not mutually exclusive. One which is driven by the desire to improve visibility of authors and their work and the other which is driven by the desire to improve accessibility through openly sharing for the growth and development of society. In the former, the measurement of success is citation count while the latter is socio-economic impact. Citation count for research has a relatively high degree of maturity while the latter is barely at a fledgling stage.

The lens from which I view the roles and responsibilities of libraries in the delivery of a publishing service is driven by the single ambition: to share desperately needed scholarly literature freely with all, especially with those from the global south who are deprived of critical information, be it for research or growth and development purposes, due to exorbitant subscription costs. This financial barrier together with the high cost of internet access (one of the highest in the world) are major challenges for Africans. Other challenges such as frequent power outages and poor IT infrastructure are part of a myriad of challenges that make access near impossible – these challenges perpetuate poverty and doom and gloom for a continent that is so rich in natural resources–including an abundance of human resources. It is my assertion that library publishing programmes should be guided by the possibility of realizing the field’s immense potential for growth and development of the African continent. The need for a social justice driven library publishing agenda must be at the epicentre of this development process. Hence, my focus in this blog post is on diamond open access library publishing, that is, where there is no cost to the reader nor the author. The publishing service is part of the suite of services provided by the library.

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July 27, 2018

Three publishing conferences with a common theme of diversity and whiteness

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The Fellows Journal is a forum for the current Library Publishing Coalition fellows to share their experiences and raise topics for discussion within the community. Learn more about the Fellowship Program .

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“The lesson that we are all learning, myself included, is that to simply do our jobs as we’ve been doing them is not enough. We must not only examine our publishing lists, but our editorial boards, reviewers, and ourselves, to learn and improve to move toward a more equitable profession. LPC, SSP, and AUP are three organizations that are very much a part of the same scholarly ecosystem, and we can all work together toward the goal of intersectional diversity and accessibility.”

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Previous to my career librarianship, I worked in academic publishing, and therefore had experience in the world of academic conferences as a vendor and editor. In all my time in academic publishing, however, I never attended a conference that was for my own professional development. In contrast, as a librarian, this year I attended the Library Publishing Forum, the Association of University Presses Annual Meeting, and the Society for Scholarly Publishing Annual Meeting.

Library Publishing Forum

I’ll be frank that I’m very biased toward the Library Publishing Forum, and not just because I’m one of the Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) Fellows. A first-time attendee at the conference asked me, “Are people always so friendly?” I was able to answer Yes: I’ve attended four out of the five forums, and it’s always been a warm community. My personal theory is this is because so many of us library publishers are departments of one or very few within our institutions, so coming to the Library Publishing Forum is an opportunity to be amongst colleagues with similar roles. But it’s also a very collaborative community, and this conference was just another example of how we are cooperatively engaged with each other to improve software platforms and create new processes for publishing more effectively. The sessions are frequently practical and full of helpful examples, while still honest about difficulties and limitations in execution. I feel that every year, we as a community move forward together, regardless of the resources at each institution, simply because we share knowledge with each other so well.

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February 7, 2018

Predatory publishing from a global south perspective

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The Fellows Journal is a forum for the current Library Publishing Coalition fellows to share their experiences and raise topics for discussion within the community. Learn more about the Fellowship Program 

The unilateral determination of a definition of predatory publishing, by Jeffrey Beall, has sent the research publishing world into a tizz. Even though Beall has withdrawn his list, unfortunately in the current technological age this list is not cleared from the web archive nor is there a prevention of the rehashing of the list by someone else. Nor, has there been subsequently an adequate reconceptualization of predatory publishing to ensure that it is not discriminatory to open access or the global south.

Writing as a Fellow of the LPC from the global south, I feel a sense of obligation to follow the call that African academics and intellectuals (not that I am either), on the continent and in the diaspora, play a role in countering the prejudice and misinformation about Africa. Be that as it may, I think there are significant lessons for both the global south and north by interrogating the concept of predatory publishing. The recently published article by Olivarez and others (2018) highlight the need for interventions to remedy the insensitive generalization of predatory publishing. (more…)


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December 14, 2017

Thinking about accessibility and sustainability in scholarly communication

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The Fellows Journal is a forum for the current Library Publishing Coalition fellows to share their experiences and raise topics for discussion within the community. Learn more about the Fellowship Program.

In addition to my duties as a scholarly communication librarian, one of my roles at the University of San Francisco is liaison to the Migration Studies program. It’s a relatively new program in a relatively new field, so search terms are still evolving. For example, one of the common roadblocks that students encounter is that research data is available under “refugees” rather than “migrants.” This search term confusion is easily remedied, but there are also problematic descriptors such as “illegal” and “undocumented”. One of the questions that came up this past year was, What do you call someone who has valid legal immigration status but who is deported or detained? (People in the class agreed “illegal” is unacceptable, and “undocumented” is inaccurate.) Since many of the students in the program have a personal stake in these issues, these conversations around naming are not taken lightly.

In addition to these discussions in the classroom, naming and authority are, of course, important to librarianship as well. More recently, I have been thinking about “accessibility” and “sustainability” as terms that are heavily used both in my work as a scholarly communications librarian and more broadly outside of my professional niche. 

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October 6, 2017

Meet Reggie Raju, 2017-18 LPC Fellow

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The Fellows Journal is a forum for the current Library Publishing Coalition fellows to share their experiences and raise topics for discussion within the community. Learn more about the Fellowship Program.

I am Reggie Raju, currently the Deputy Director: Research and Learning Services at the University of Cape Town (UCT), South Africa. I am originally from an east coast city in South Africa called Durban. I am the son of indentured labourers who were brought from India to work the sugar cane farms on the east coast of South Africa. Coming from a struggle background in which some members of my family were either exiled or imprisoned, the struggles against the apartheid system had taught me important lessons in life one of which was the drive for social justice. (more…)


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September 25, 2017

Meet Charlotte Roh, 2017-18 LPC Fellow

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The Fellows Journal is a forum for the current Library Publishing Coalition fellows to share their experiences and raise topics for discussion within the community. Learn more about the Fellowship Program. Charlotte Roh is the Scholarly Communications Librarian at the University of San Francisco and recipient of the 2017 LPC Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Library Publishing. Charlotte is one of two inaugural fellows in the Library Publishing Coalition Fellowship Program, and her goals for the fellowship include advancing social justice and diversity in library publishing.

At the start of this fall semester, one of the professors on my campus asked me to come talk to his copyediting class about academic publishing as a career. My usual audience is librarians and faculty, so I always welcome a chance to talk with undergraduates. It’s an entirely different conversation, and an opportunity to essentially indulge in nostalgia and my own hard-won knowledge about the New York publishing industry. (more…)