Summer reading: Reality is Not What It Seems

Reality is Not What It Seems book cover

Reality is Not What It Seems: the Journey to Quantum Gravity
Carlo Rovelli

This new book is fascinating, well-written, and, believe or not, a page turner. It is about the paradigm shifts that led to our current revolutionary moment in physics. The book provides an engaging, accessible history and explanations of an unbelievable story of innovation.

Carlo Rovelli is a ground breaker in Grand Unified Theory and a bestselling author with his previous book, Seven Brief Lessons in Physics.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer Institute Alumni Spotlight: Alex Vassar

As interviewed by Todd Holmes

Alex Vassar attend our Advanced Oral History Summer Institute in 2017. A seasoned civil servant, Alex is no stranger to the circles of California government. In 2007, he served as a Senate Fellow in the state’s upper house, and worked thereafter in both houses before transferring to other departments of state government. Currently, he is the Communications Manager of the California State Library. When he joined us last summer, he had just finished an oral history of former State Senator Denise Ducheny on behalf of the State Archives. This interview was part of a collaborative effort between the State Archives, State Library, Sacramento State, and UC Berkeley’s Oral History Center to revamp the California State Government Oral History Program. That long effort ultimately proved successful, as the program was refunded in the 2018-19 state budget. We caught up with Alex this past month at his office in Sacramento to this victory and see what else he’s been up to since last summer.

Q: Tell us a little bit about your work and how you use oral history.

Vassar: I have always been interested in the political process and how the experiences of the people who run for office impact their thinking and decisions. That was a large part of why I moved to Sacramento in 2007 to participate in the Senate Fellows Program at Sacramento State. In the years since, I have conducted a number of short interviews with current and former state legislators. These interviews formed the crux of my recent book, California Lawmaker: The Men and Women of the California Legislature.

In 2016, I had the opportunity to sit down with former State Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny for a 14-hour interview. This was part of the State Government Oral History Program, housed at the California State Archives since the 1980s. I loved the long format of the oral history interview, spaced between multiple sessions, and how it allowed the interviewee to tell stories and take the time to explore memories.

 

Q: How did the Summer Institute shape your work?

Vassar: In 2017, I accepted a new role at the California State Library, heading up the Communications Division. Almost immediately after starting the new job, I had the opportunity to participate in the Oral History Center’s Advanced Summer Institute, thanks to the support of State Librarian Greg Lucas. It was an amazing experience and I loved the speakers, my classmates, and the campus. (My mother was working on a Ph.D. at Cal when I was born, but I had never spent more than a few hours on campus.) The Summer Institute gave me new insight into the practice of oral history, knowledge I’m hoping to bring to new interviews in the future, and more importantly, to the oral history-based initiatives we have created at the State Library.

 

Q: Tell us about these initiatives and what’s next on the horizon for your work in oral history?

Vassar: Recently, I’ve worked with State Librarian Greg Lucas and State Archivist Nancy Lenoil, as well as institutional partners such as the UC Berkeley’s Oral History Center and the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State, to restart the State Government Oral History Program. Created in the 1980s, the program had conducted hundreds of oral history interviews with former lawmakers and civil servants before funding was cut in 2003. My interview with Senator Ducheny was one of the few interviews conducted in recent years, thanks to the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State. I’m happy to report, however, that the efforts of the OHC and Sacramento State proved successful, with refunding of the State Government Oral History Program in the 2018-19 California budget. In addition to this program, we are also currently meeting with academic institutions to establish resources for oral historians to use and share at the State Library.


Curating Oral History in a Museum Setting

by Amanda Tewes

A few years back, I visited the Churchill War Rooms in London, the underground bunker near the Houses of Parliament from which Winston Churchill and his advisers directed British military efforts during World War II. My fellow museum goers and I followed the labyrinth of offices and bunkrooms – including Churchill’s personal quarters – to get a taste of what wartime life was like for Churchill, the war cabinet, and staff in this cramped space with no access to sunlight. These underground rooms were important to the security of the prime minister and his cabinet, as Nazi planes regularly rained down bombs on London during the war. While the physical layout of the Churchill War Rooms tells a compelling story about the difficult business of war, it is the many accompanying oral histories that provide texture to the subterranean world. For instance, former employees recalled feeling claustrophobic working so far underground, especially during air raids, while others spoke about taking their turn at the sunlamps that fought against Vitamin D deficiency. Hearing these personal stories in the space where these narrators lived and worked makes the museum about people and not solely wartime strategy.

Indeed, featuring oral histories in exhibits large and small makes big history personal. And sharing these stories in partnership with museums provides greater accessibility to collections for archives with limited public interaction. However, introducing oral histories into museum galleries raises a new set of challenges for both curators and oral historians.

One of these challenges is that of spacial design. How should the public engage with this oral history content: through a touch-screen video monitor, an audio-only listening station, or block quotes on the wall? In galleries where visitors expect to briefly browse images and short labels on the wall, how can curators entice them to stand still and watch/listen to several minutes of content? Curators may have to introduce oral histories at the earliest exhibition planning stages in order to best incorporate them into the space and the larger story.

Curators must also grapple with how to use oral history to question official narratives about a subject or event. Should these personal recollections compliment the exhibit’s narrative or challenge it? Further, sometimes oral history is the only way marginalized communities gain representation and historical acknowledgement in museum spaces. Therefore, what can curators do to not just feature oral histories, but also privilege the stories they reveal, particularly if these narratives do not exist in the museum’s artifact or image collections?

Finally, what is the responsibility of oral historians in developing content for museum exhibitions? Knowing that an oral history might become part of a museum exhibit, how should interviewers reframe these conversations? If museums need fresh content to tell their historical narratives, this provides opportunities for curators and oral historians to collaborate on projects that reveal new information or unique points of view.

Oral history practitioners should be asking not only what museums discuss, but also how they display it, and how oral history can affect these narratives. As an oral historian who formerly worked in a museum setting, these ideas were always on my mind when I pitched oral history content to curators. In our Summer Institute this August, I will be discussing these questions and conflicts with seasoned curators Erendina Delgadillo of the Oakland Museum of California; Christine Shook of the Wells Fargo Family History Center; and Margie Brown-Coronel of California State University, Fullerton. I look forward to exploring some of these questions with them and how they approach curating oral history. If you curate oral history or work in a museum setting, we’d love to hear how you think about these issues!

atewes@berkeley.edu


From the OHC Director, August 2018

by Martin Meeker

Since 2002, the Oral History Center has hosted a week-long advanced institute on oral history theory and methodology every August. We’ve welcomed over 500 people from across the country and around the globe, with another 30 about to join us this year. As my colleagues and I prepare for this year’s program, I wanted to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’d like to take this most worthwhile endeavor.

The first institute in which I participated was the second, in 2003. I had recently come to what was then known as the Regional Oral History Office, or ROHO, as a postdoc working with then-director Richard Candida-Smith. That first year (and, frankly, several that followed) are now nothing more than a blur: the experience was definitely one of those “drinking from a firehose” situations. Although I was soon to join ROHO as an interviewer, I now look back and see myself as a real oral history novice. I had read the requisite articles (Portelli!) and conducted a number of interviews, but my experiences were relatively few and not very diverse. The Summer Institute opened my eyes to many aspects of the interview that I had never really considered in any depth. I remember one session taught by guest faculty Jeff Friedman about movement and the performative aspects of oral history. Not that I needed any encouragement to feel more self-conscious in an interview setting, but this got me thinking more about the complexities of self-presentation, body language, and the dreaded yawn that sometimes escapes the mouth of an interviewer.

Subsequent years saw a number of interesting guest faculty appearances along with a revolving roster of OHC interviewers, but for the first dozen institute, the stalwart was Lisa Rubens, who curated and ran the institute. Lisa and I recently met for coffee and we discussed how the institute has changed in interesting and productive ways over the years, but one thing has been true since the beginning: the week is always invigorating (if exhausting) and one can always expect a slightly euphoric afterglow. With so many new relationships forged, so many opportunities to learn and share knowledge, the experience always is worth it.

On August 6th we’ll welcome our next group of summer institute participants. Shanna Farrell, who has led the institute since 2014, has planned what promises to be yet another always fascinating, and sometimes challenging, week of presentations, roundtables, and workshops. I’ll be presenting a updated version of my legal and ethics talk, which is inspired in part by my recent work on the committee revising the Oral History Associations documents on ethics and best practices. We are hosting another Tuesday evening presentation, free and open to the public. This year Erin Riggs will discuss the 1947 Partition Archive, which documents the troubled split of India and Pakistan. In addition to this, I’m especially looking forward to a panel on the final day of the event created by our two newest interviewers at OHC, Amanda Tewes and Roger Eardley-Pryor. They’ll not only discuss the performative aspects of oral history, they’ll…well, I don’t want to give away the surprise, do I?

Every year after the conclusion the institute, the faculty read very carefully the feedback provided by participants, and we take what they have to say seriously, often incorporating participant ideas into next year’s program. So, this institute has become a continuous learning experience for all of at OHC, which is what we hope it is for the participants too.

Martin Meeker

Charles B. Faulhaber Director

July 27, 2018


Where We’re Hanging Out: Saturday, August 11, 2018

by David Dunham

On Saturday August 11th, we’ll be in Richmond, California for the 2018 Rosie Rally 2018 Home Front Festival! at the Rosie the Riveter / World War II American Home Front National Historical Park. Join us!

This year’s annual event celebrates the spirit of Rosie the Riveter by encouraging dress in five costume categories: Best Traditional Rosie; Best Non-Rosie Home Front Worker; Best Parent/Child; Best Authentic 40’s Period Costume; or Most Creative Interpretation of Home Front History.

We look forward to seeing many of our past interviewees, including 96 year old Park Ranger Betty Reid Soskin, whose autobiography Sign My Name to Freedom was edited from her very own blog and our oral histories with her.

This past weekend we attended the Port Chicago Naval Magazine Memorial to honor those who passed on July 17, 1944 in the tragic explosion. Also in collaboration with NPS, we have conducted oral histories with survivors and others with connections to Port Chicago. Later this year we will be sharing online Dr. Robert Allen’s definitive audio oral histories and transcripts with members of the Port Chicago 50, the interviews that were the basis for his book The Port Chicago Mutiny.

This year the Friends of Port Chicago honored our dear NPS colleague Raphael Allen with the Port Chicago Commemorative Hero’s Award. Allen was a passionate storyteller, historian, researcher, and educator. His shoes can not be filled, but each of us whose lives he touched are inspired to work harder to tell the many important stories and lessons of Port Chicago and the World War II Home Front.

The Oral History Center has collaborated with the National Park Service on over 250 oral histories. Sign up for our eNewsletter for updates this fall when we update our website with enhanced search and a pilot of full video oral histories synced to the transcripts.


JOIN US on 8/7 for a Talk with Erin Riggs, Citizen Historian for the 1947 Partition Archives!

JOIN US on Tuesday, August 7th from 6-7:30pm for a public presentation by Erin Riggs, Citizen Historian for the 1947 Partition Archives!
Erin Riggs will join us to discuss her work with 1947 Partition Archive and the importance of documenting these narratives as part of our 2018 Summer Institute. This event is free and open to the public. It will take place in the Heyns Room at the Faculty Club on the UC Berkeley campus. We hope to see you there!

In Memory of Susan O’Hara

by Ann Lage

http://update.lib.berkeley.edu/2018/07/31/from-the-archives-the-making-of-mr-photosynthesis/

Susan O’Hara, our former colleague at OHC (back in ROHO days) and the prime mover in Bancroft’s acclaimed Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement (DRILM) project, passed away on July 1. We will remember her for her many fine personal qualities, among them a wonderful sense of humor, a gift for friendship, quiet yet strong leadership skills, and a keen historical sensibility.  All of these came into play in bringing DRILM into being.

Susan was a 1971 participant in a groundbreaking experiment at Berkeley. A decade earlier UC Berkeley had opened a floor in the campus hospital to house students with significant physical disabilities, most of them then confined to nursing homes or to their parents’ care with little hope of accessing higher education.  Attending Cal at a time of free speech and anti-war movements, the students found their voices, reveled in the zeitgeist of the sixties and the freedom of motorized wheelchairs, and became politically active. Over the next decade they founded on campus one of the first programs for students with disabilities in the nation. They next turned their attention to the broader community, founding the Center for Independent Living, which became the model for similar organizations across the nation.   A host of spin-off organizations for people with disabilities grew out of CIL; many of the primary leaders of the battle for the Americans with Disabilities Act and other campaigns for disability rights and independent living came out of these initiatives. In 1975, Susan was hired as Berkeley’s coordinator of the residence program for students with disabilities, assisting students in the transition to independent living as the campus made residence halls accessible and closed down the Cowell Hospital unit.  

In 1982 Susan approached Willa Baum, ROHO’s director, and made a compelling case that something of great historical moment had happened and was continuing to happen on campus and beyond. “This has got to be documented,” she urged.  Willa immediately agreed and the long struggle to find funding for an oral history project ensued. It was difficult going. Susan and Willa’s understanding was ahead of their times; the Society for Disability Studies was just then coming into being, as a section of the Western Social Studies Association; the Disability History Association was far in the future. The Americans with Disabilities Act did not pass until 1990. Only a very few historians or social scientists recognized disability studies as a fruitful field of study and there were apparently no oral history projects underway. The NEH turned down the ROHO grant application three times, and we did no better with other grantors, although Willa was able to find a modest sum from Cal’s Prytanean alumnae to fund two pilot interviews.

Susan did not give up. By the mid-1990s, the time was right. Susan was alerted to a new program at the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research in the Department of Education that might be interested in our project.  Susan and Mary Lou Breslin, another disability advocate with a strong sense of history, joined with ROHO to convince Bancroft Library curators of the project’s value. Their meeting resulted in a successful 3-year grant for an oral history program focusing on California leaders and behind-the-scenes activists, and including an additional component for Bancroft to acquire, preserve, and make accessible personal papers and records of activists and their organizations.  Four years later, with a second NIDRR grant, the project moved nationwide, recording interviews and collecting historical papers of leaders of the movement in Massachusetts, New York, Washington DC, Texas, and other centers of activity.

Susan played a key role at every step as the project got underway. I was the project manager/coordinator  for ROHO so I know better than most how important she was. Under the guise of her position as “historical consultant,” she advised on every aspect of the project. She helped us realize how important it would be to staff the project with interviewers from the disability community, who would have the trust of interviewees and organizational leaders whose memories and papers we were to collect. This trust was essential to study a movement with the watchwords “Nothing about us without us.”  With her help, we hired an outstanding group of interviewers whose personal experiences, historical studies, and training in oral history methodology made them ideally suited to the project. Susan helped us navigate the difficult task of selecting interviewees, some of them recognized leaders and founders of organizations, some of them less well-known builders and sustainers of the movement or well-placed observers of key events.

Susan was a skilled interviewer; she conducted fourteen invaluable oral histories for the project. She was also a graceful writer and keen editor, who had a hand in all the project grant-writing, publicity, and website materials.  Her lasting legacy in all these areas can be found on the project website at http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/collections/drilm/index.html. You will also find there a record of Susan’s many other contributions to the disability movement in her own oral history, Susan O’Hara, Director of UC Berkeley’s Disabled Students’ Program, 1988-1992; Coordinator of Residence Program for Disabled Students, 1975-1988.   


From the Archives: The Making of Mr. Photosynthesis

by Roger Eardley-PryorIn 1926, Melvin Calvin’s high school science teacher told him, “You’ll never make a scientist because you guess too much.” At the time, Calvin was an introverted, yet inquisitive, senior at Detroit Central High School. After skipping two grades in grammar school, he was younger and smaller than his classmates. Rather than nurse young Calvin’s curiosity, his science teacher scolded, “Be quiet. You don’t know what you’re talking about, you haven’t listened to the data.” But the precocious boy never stopped asking questions, and later, the data he produced made him famous.

“I tell you,” Calvin recalled in his oral history interview, “the instructor in physics really turned me off, not on. He was one of these people, [as] I remember him, who thought of science as the gathering of data and the drawing of conclusions. And guessing didn’t play any role in the development of science.” But, as Calvin remembered it, “I was a great guesser! He would ask questions and I would guess at the answers. I was wrong half the time,” Calvin admitted, “and he simply put me down.” Thirty-five years after those put-downs, TIME magazine named Melvin Calvin Mr. Photosynthesis’ for his pioneering research unveiling the way plants wrangle sunlight, water, and air to make their food and, ultimately, power the planet. In 1961, Calvin’s search for answers to his endless questions earned him a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Melvin Calvin’s oral history interview addressed, in great detail, aspects of his renowned scientific career, from his postdoctoral work with Michael Polanyi in England, to joining Berkeley’s College of Chemistry in 1937, through his efforts in the Manhattan Project, to his pioneering research on photosynthesis. But the power of Calvin’s oral history resides in the unexpected, unscientific, and personal stories that appear nowhere else. Oral histories with scientists like Melvin Calvin reveal the human and emotional side to scientific processes that, from the outside, might appear purely rational or apolitical. Much of Calvin’s oral history delved into the political and interpersonal aspects of his scientific career, including his Nobel-winning research on the biochemical pathways of plants. Yet Calvin’s earlier stories—those from before his professional life took root—shine a light on the making of Mr. Photosynthesis.

Calvin remembered the moment he decided to become a chemist. It was that same year of high school, from 1926 to 1927, and Calvin stood in the grocery store that his father strained to keep solvent. Calvin’s working-class family didn’t always make ends meet. The 1920s may have been “roaring” for some, but like today, a great and growing gap separated rich from poor. Calvin’s family was the latter. “He was struggling,” Calvin explained of his father, “and I worked in that store with him.” At the age of sixteen, Calvin recalled, “I looked around and I saw that everything in that store depended in some way on chemists, from the labels on the cans to the food inside, the ink, the paper, everything involved chemistry.” His father’s struggle for security shaped young Melvin Calvin. “I wasn’t going to do that,” he deduced. “I was going to have something that was interesting to do and would make me a living at the same time.” Like his high school teacher’s rebukes, Calvin wanted no guessing whether or not he’d have a job.

Chemistry would become Calvin’s career, but he craved more than mere science. Sports never suited him, so in high school, he joined the debate team, and he was “in the plays, you know, dramatic things. … We put on a ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and I was [Nick] Bottom.” At that time, Calvin confessed, “I was round, you know … so I played Bottom for obvious reasons!” Bottom’s asinine metamorphosis brings comedy to Shakespeare’s play, but more fitting for Calvin, the part also attunes the audience to meaningful themes like the relationship between reality and imagination. Bottom’s down-to-earth character, more than any other in the play, delves deep into the forest where he transcends his working-class identity to experience nature’s magic, enchant a fairy queen, and return having had “a most rare vision … a dream, past the wit of man.” Calvin’s continual wonderment in nature’s mysteries eventually made him one of the world’s leading biochemists.

In an era that lamented growing gaps between the humanities and science, young Melvin Calvin built bridges. Upon completing high school at age 16, Calvin began engineering courses at the Michigan College of Mining and Technology on the state’s remote Upper Peninsula. “I knew my opportunities there were limited,” Calvin disclosed, “because it was what it was, an engineering school.” After his first two years there, his family’s faltering finances forced his return to Detroit. “By that time,” Calvin recalled, “I already began to realize I needed intellectual exploration … I needed some broadening.” In the evenings Calvin worked in a Detroit brass factory chemically testing metal tailings, and during the day he took classes. “After two years in engineering school I went to Wayne State [then Detroit City College] and I didn’t touch an engineering subject. I didn’t go near one. I took history and art and psychology … That was a deliberate choice.”

Calvin continued his “broadening” in both science and humanities while completing his degree at Michigan Tech, earning his PhD from the University of Minnesota, and completing a postdoctoral fellowship in Manchester, England. Inside the laboratory, Calvin analyzed radioactive elements with varied half-lives. But outside the laboratory, rather than read scientific literature, he “preferred books that had a long lifetime.” He read creative classics like Don Quixote, Anna Karenina, and War and Peace. “These were novels to live in,” he remembered fondly, “you don’t live in the technical literature.” While reading War and Peace, for example, “I didn’t go to work, I didn’t do anything for about 10 days, you know, I read that book. I just got up and read it, had my lunch and read it, had my dinner, went to sleep. … I didn’t go to work. I read the whole thing in one sitting. It didn’t help much in terms of time, but I can remember doing that. I lived in that thing. … [T]hat was a very powerful experience.”

The memories Calvin explored in his oral history interview inspired a realization his scientific publications never revealed. After bringing his curiosity and creativity to Berkeley’s College of Chemistry in 1937, Calvin’s research with radioactive particles in plants earned a Nobel Prize in 1961. More than a decade after that award, Calvin reflected on the high school science teacher who told him to stop asking so many questions. “The more I learn about science in the ensuing forty years, the more I realize that guessing is the really creative part of science. That the gathering of data and the drawing of conclusions is really a computer operation. The part of it that isn’t a computer operation is the really creative part, and that’s the guessing.” Melvin Calvin’s oral history interview shows the human side of science—how the elemental and the imaginative, in conjunction, advance our knowledge of nature. The memories and insights in Mr. Photosynthesis’s interview reveal how a scientist, and how science itself, can grow.

Melvin Calvin’s oral history interview was recorded over several sessions between October 1974 and March 1978, as part of a series dealing with the development of nuclear research at Berkeley. The Oral History Center recently digitized the printed transcript of Calvin’s interview, previously available only at the Bancroft Library. The Oral History Center and archivists at the Bancroft Library are currently working to digitize the reel-to-reel audio recording of Calvin’s interview.


Pathways to Open Access: Choices and Opportunities

This piece is cross-posted on the University of California Office of Scholarly Communication blog.

Birds-eye view of intersecting highways surrounded by trees
“Overpasses from above,” Edouard Ki, Unsplash

A Call to Action

On June 21, the University of California’s Systemwide Library and Scholarly Information Advisory Committee (SLASIAC) issued a Call to Action in which they announced their intent to embark on a new phase of activity in journal negotiations focused on open access (OA) to research. The Call to Action appeared alongside discussion of another recently-released University of California document, the Declaration of Rights and Principles to Transform Scholarly Communication, put forth by our system-wide faculty senate library committee (UCOLASC) and intended to guide our libraries toward OA when negotiating with publishers.

There are twin challenges underlying SLASIAC’s Call to Action, and UCOLASC’s Declaration of Rights and Principles: On the one hand, determining how to maintain subscriptions to scholarly journals in a context of escalating subscription costs and shrinking collections budgets, and on the other, pursuing the moral imperative of achieving a truly open scholarly communication system in which the UC’s vast research output is available and accessible to the world. The UC libraries have been working to address these dual needs, and we wish to highlight here some of the efforts our libraries have undertaken in this regard — particularly those in which we are working in concert.

UC Libraries’ Pathways to Open Access

In February 2018, through the release of the Pathways to Open Access toolkit (“Pathways”), UC Libraries identified and analyzed the panoply of possible strategies for directing funds away from paywalled subscription models and toward OA publishing. Pathways takes an impartial approach to analyzing the menu of strategies in order to help each individual campus evaluate which option(s) best serve their goals as they work to shift funds away from subscriptions. It also considers implications for cooperative investment in the various strategies it sets forth.

The possible next steps suggested in Pathways are manifold, including:

  • Identifying and engaging with disciplines for flipping their journals to OA
  • Exploring memberships and crowd-funding
  • Examining opportunities to leverage eScholarship as a publishing platform
  • Exploring commitment to open scholarly publishing infrastructure
  • Pursuing transitional offsetting agreements, in which current subscription spends help cover open article processing charges for hybrid journals—and potentially backing up offsetting negotiations with cancellations for publishers who refuse to engage

We have already announced intentions to pursue at least one collaborative experiment: to undertake a limited number of offsetting pilots—a transitional strategy to OA that caps institutional spending on a publisher’s subscription package while centrally administering and subsidizing the cost of hybrid article processing charges against a total agreed-upon spend—such that the net effect transitions spending away from subscriptions and toward OA article publication, without higher institutional costs.

Notably, the University of California libraries are aligned around common goals and approaches to achieving a transition to Open Access, but also are responsive to campus-specific needs and priorities. No matter which individual strategies our campuses pursue, we remain committed to the shared goal of collectively redirecting our funds away from subscriptions and toward open access publishing.

Taking the Pathways Journey

The University of California is not alone in the choices it faces with respect to accelerating a transition to open access. In ways both similar to and distinct from what we are experiencing, institutions and scholarly communities around the world are wrestling with their own questions and options as they envision what their pathways to OA might entail. North America has a particularly crucial role to play in the worldwide transition effort, given the size of its publishing output and amount of subscription revenue that it contributes. We do not believe any single actionable OA strategy would suit all North American institutions, let alone all author communities. Instead, we hope to leverage the Pathways toolkit to help authors, research libraries, and organizations make their own choices based on their own communities’ needs.

In acknowledgment of both the great potential for collaborative transformation, and the great divergence of perspectives and requirements for achieving such a transformation, the University of California Libraries are organizing a working forum to provide a dedicated time and space for North American library leaders and key academic stakeholders to use Pathways as a foundation to discuss and design what their own next steps toward open access might look like.

October’s working forum, aptly titled Choosing Pathways to Open Access, will be based on a design thinking model to cultivate discourse and a solutions-based approach. The goal is to facilitate participants’ abilities to understand and assess which OA strategies might be appropriate for repurposing spends at their own institutions, to engage participants in exploring insights shared by others about the implications of implementing those strategies, and to support participants in outlining or developing their own action plans for their institution or author community.

The forum, free of charge to attend, will not include presentations in the traditional sense, but instead will engage facilitators to help guide discussions on given OA publishing strategies. This overall information-sharing and discussion-centered format strives to achieve a balance between deeper engagement with OA strategies and meaningful opportunities to determine next steps—including through alignment or partnership with similarly-interested institutions or communities.

Choosing Pathways to OA aims to give voice to strategies within all OA approaches, with the understanding that each institution or author group might wish to support a range of strategies and approaches as appropriate for their communities and in alignment with their respective goals. While institutions and communities may settle on different investment strategies, the reflection and decision-making process are both crucial and timely.

Learn more