PKP Conference Notes: Highlights and Athabasca University Press

The first full day of the Public Knowledge Project conference in Vancouver was indeed a very full day. Here are some of the highlights from what I saw today:

  • NgÅ©gÄ© wa Thiong’o spoke about the impact of digital publishing and open access on the dissemination of writing in non-Western languages
  • A group from the Open Humanities Press spoke about their work, including an exciting new open access monograph publishing project from Gary Hall called Liquid Books
  • Shana Kimball and Marta Brunner from the University of Michigan and UCLA libraries discussed the role of university libraries in new open access publishing initiatives, including the MacArthur Foundation-funded Hyper-Cities project (once I have some time to play around on this page, I will write more about the implications and uses of this kind of tool and platform for urban environmental historians and geographers)
  • Professor Subbiah Arunachalam drew attention to the importance of open access from the perspective of the global South
  • A very interesting talk by Laura Botsford from the Canadian Journal of Sociology about that journal’s transition from print to online/open access publication, using Open Journal Systems
  • An interesting closing address by Leslie Chan about open access publishing with reference to this useful resource called the Open Access Directory
Athabasca University Press
Athabasca University Press

The main highlight for me was the presentation by Athabasca University Press about their first two years as an open access publisher. Frits Pannekoek, president of Athabasca University, delivered excellent opening remarks for the panel. His ideas and enthusiasm for opening access to education and learning from scholarly institutions was inspiring and refreshing. What would the Canadian university system look like today if other university presidents thought like Dr. Pannekoek? Two years ago, AUP launched as an open access academic publisher offering journals, monographs, and websites (very interesting and exciting idea).

As Walter Hildebrandt, director of AUP, made clear in his presentation, the open access  publishing movement is not about either online/free or print/pay. AUP has demonstrated in just two years that a university press can successfully publish both digital and print scholarly monographs in an open access model, using Creative Commons licensing. Their collection of books already includes award-winning books like Sarah Carter’s The Importance of Being Monogamous: Marriage and Nation Building in Western Canada in 1915.

AUP panel at PKP Conference
AUP panel at PKP Conference

The work of AUP over the past two years is impressive and will likely begin to reshape the scholarly publishing landscape in Canada for Canadian and environmental historians. With established, senior historians like Sarah Carter and others moving in this direction toward open access publishing, it will help build the credibility and reputation of publishers like AUP.

Also, if you’re interested in following this conference as it happens, I encourage readers to watch some of the live-streaming video and the work of the army of live-bloggers from PKP.

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