Up next in The Open Access Stories series - an interview with Amy Vilz & Molly Poremski, Co-Editors-in-Chief of The Reading Room!

We’re excited to welcome Ian Beilin to The Open Access Stories blog series! Share Ian’s story and your own on Twitter by using the hashtag - #MyOAStory.

Ian Beilin is the Humanities Research Services Librarian at Columbia University. He is also a historian and teaches modern European history as an adjunct professor in the McGhee Division of New York University’s School of Professional Studies. Beilin is a member of the editorial board of In the Library with the Lead Pipe, an open access, open peer-reviewed journal founded and run by an international team of librarians.

My OA Story: Q&A with Ian Beilin

Can you briefly explain the aims and scope of In the Library With the Lead Pipe and how and why you came to launch the journal as an OA publication?

IB: Since 2012 Lead Pipe has been an open access, open peer-reviewed journal that publishes a new article every other Wednesday. The purpose and goals of Lead Pipe have remained the same since its founding, as stated on our About page: “Lead Pipe believes libraries and library workers can change the world for the better. We improve libraries, professional organizations, and their communities of practice by exploring new ideas, starting conversations, documenting our concerns, and arguing for solutions.“ The founders and editors believe that our mission requires us to be an open access publication, partly because we want to help build a system of scholarly communication which is open, and also because we believe that only an OA publication can effectively reach across the entire spectrum of librarianship and library workers, as well as attract the broadest range of ideas and contributions to our field.

How do you anticipate your journal will impact library studies? What are your hopes for the journal both in terms of having an impact in your field and as part of the OA Movement?

IB: We seek to have an immediate impact on library studies and there is ample evidence that we have been succeeding in this goal, through citations, direct responses to our articles (as comments on the journal site, elsewhere online, and in person), and through the buzz that many of our articles get on social media and at professional conferences.

Lead Pipe has successfully positioned itself as one of the leading venues for creative, progressive thinking on a very wide range of issues that affect libraries and library workers today. I believe that the journal has also done a great deal of good in demonstrating the power and virtue of open access journal publishing as well as open peer review to our field. The proof of this is that we are attracting contributions from many brilliant and influential voices, both established and up-and-coming, in our field.

What if any other OA initiatives are you or do you hope to be a part of?

IB: I support OA initiatives across my own campus as much as possible. This includes informing students and faculty about our institutional repository, and helping them understand and contribute to it; informing students and faculty about open access publishing in the fields that are of interest/concern to them; and working with colleagues across the university to increase institutional support for open access initiatives, including the recognition of both traditional and non-traditional forms of open access publishing, as fully legitimate forms of scholarship to be recognized in the system of tenure and promotion.

Naturally, I take an active part in my library’s Open Access Week activities: I’ll be reaching out to students and faculty in the humanities and history specifically to let them know about all the opportunities for teaching, learning and scholarship that open access resources and venues currently can provide them. Most importantly, I want to begin and sustain dialogues about how we can move ahead and expand the appreciation and effectiveness of OA for the humanities and history.

As a librarian, what suggestions do you have for universities and individual scholars in terms of taking steps to further the OA movement?

IB: I think that librarians need to work very closely with faculty and students to raise awareness about open access in order to help it expand and grow. Part of this effort also involves correcting some false impressions and myths about open access. These are particularly common in the humanities, where some of the resistance can be stubborn.

On the other hand, librarians also have a lot of work to do in addressing the legitimate concerns of scholars at all points in their careers. Many students and faculty may justifiably not be concerned with open access first and foremost, given the many serious problems that beset academia today. But I think librarians are the best placed to understand not only the possibilities and options that OA provides, but also the larger system of scholarly communications with its sometimes harsh realities. We can make the best case that open access is a huge part (but only a part) of the solution to the crisis in academic publishing and academia in general.

Because scholars must function within a larger system that is broken, one that is driven by scarcity and profit motive, as well as competition, librarians need to strategize to find the best options for scholars who do not wish to jeopardize their career opportunities or compromise their own scholarship. Although librarians are not typically invested with great power institutionally, their positioning as separate from both faculty and administration (even when they are officially part of the faculty) puts them in an often advantageous position in terms of helping both sides understand the purpose and value of open access.

Thank you to Ian Beilin for taking the time to be a part of The Open Access stories series! Share this story and your own by using the hashtag - #MyOAStory!

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