The LIS took part in the international Open Access Week from 21 – 26 October with the theme “Open for whom? Equity in Open Knowledge”. This is an annual global event which entered its tenth year with the aim of advocating and raising awareness of the benefits of open access. Sessions were held at all three campus libraries, and participants from the other campuses were able to connect remotely via Adobe Connect.
The launch of Open Access Week was at Potchefstroom. The Chief Director: LIS, Dr Mathew Moyo did the welcoming address, where after Prof Nnenesi Kgabi, Director: Research Support, officially opened the Open Access week at NWU. She elaborated on the state of Open Access in general and particularly at the NWU, and stressed the need for the development of an NWU Open Access Policy.
Dr Piere de Viliers, Managing Director of AOSIS, paved the way for the speakers with a discussion of the current state of Open Access Scholarly Publishing and mentioned the progress and challenges being experienced. Prof Andries van Aarde, Commissioning Editor: AOSIS Scholarly Books, is well known by NWU researchers who publish with AOSIS. He discussed the value, opportunities and the role of peer review of Open Access in the Humanities. Books are valued and recognized as modes of research dissemination in the Humanities, and generates three times more citations than journal articles. Citations to books take longer to register, but have a longer active citation life. In line with the theme of Open Access Week 2019 on the equity of open knowledge, the presentation of Prof Jako Olivier, UNESCO Chair on Multimodal Learning and Open Educational Resources at the NWU, was “Towards equity: the language of open knowledge”. Prof Jako addressed the nature of language as a barrier for open access, including academic language and the hegemony of English in science. He left us with some ideas on how to broaden the access to scientific information and research by promoting African languages and engage in the Plain Language Movement. Mrs Valencia Wagner (SADiLaR) gave a live demonstration of CATMA (Computer Assisted Text Markup Analysis) which is a free open source application / tool used to do research on texts. It can be used by literary scholars and students of literary studies as well as by Linguists and Social scientists.
At Mafikeng Campus, the library had two speakers for the day: Prof Mpine Makoe from UNISA, who is the Commonwealth of Learning Chair for Open Educational Resources (OER), and Prof Simeon Materechera from the NWU’s Centre for Indigenous Knowledge Systems. This was a platform for students, academic and support staff, and also researchers to engage on aspects related to OER and the benefits and challenges of open access for Indigenous Knowledge. Prof. Materechera advised that when it comes to open access to indigenous knowledge, we need to ensure that the knowledge benefits the indigenous communities. Prof Mpine Makoe pointed out that with the massification of higher education, universities have no choice but to embrace OERs for the benefit of the students. The presentations sparked interesting discussions amongst the audience, especially on issues relating to language, particularly within the academic landscape.
The event at Vanderbijlpark Library took place on 23 October 2019. There were three expert speakers who shared their knowledge. Prof Andries van Aarde from AOSIS had a discussion on Open Access in the Humanities, and Prof Verona Leendertz and Dr Clarise Mostert discussed how Open Education Resources (OER) are incorporated within a Business Management Module at NWU. The event was well attended by researchers, postgraduate students and library colleagues, also from other campuses.