January 18, 2022

“Open Knowledge and Social Justice: An Interview With SPARC’s Heather Joseph”

From an Information Today Interview with Heather Joseph by Dave Shumaker:

Here’s one exchange from the conversation.

Dave Shumaker: It’s interesting that so much of your work has been identified with open access, but your [Miles Conrad Award] lecture wasn’t really about access. You made a point of that, and you used the phrase “open knowledge” in your title instead. Could you expand on the reasons for that wording?

Heather Joseph: That’s an important question. At SPARC, we’ve been talking a lot about our vision of what “openness” is really supposed to achieve. We’ve expressed it as a vision of a world where everyone can contribute to sharing knowledge and benefit from accessing and using it. We realized that a lot of our advocacy has focused on the “access” component, but a knowledge-sharing system has to be multidirectional. It’s not acceptable that some participants are restricted to access. That’s not enough; it’s not robust, and it’s not equitable. We have to look at all the components of the knowledge-sharing system. A social justice framework is really helpful. In the various definitions of social justice, I see four underlying principles: access, participation, equity, and rights. These principles are inextricable from any social justice movement, and they help us understand the entirety of the system we’re trying to change. So, it’s not just that journals cost too much and we need a cheaper way (or a free way) to get access to them. It’s a much deeper issue than that.

The interview runs 2030 words.

Direct to Complete Interview

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.