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Open Access Symposium 2016 – Empowerment through open scholarship: transcending boundaries

31 Jan 2017 - 13:15

The Open Access Symposium 2016, hosted by University of Cape Town (UCT) Libraries and SPARC Africa, in partnership with SPARC, Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) and the National Research Foundation (NRF), took place over six days in December. The proceedings included three pre-conference workshops hosted by the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Libraries together with the NRF, the University of the Western Cape (UWC) Library and UCT Libraries. With the theme “Empowerment through open scholarship: transcending boundaries”, the symposium sought to grow the openness movement in Africa, grow skills capacity among African delegates, develop communities of practice, and provide networking opportunities and opportunities for knowledge sharing.

The pre-conference workshops were successful and engaging, with the key objective being to empower participants to become more skilled in the practicalities of furthering the Openness Agenda. Hosted by UWC, one workshop addressed the theme “Library as publisher”, facilitated by Kevin Stranack from the Public Knowledge Project (PKP) at Simon Fraser University in Canada, as well as Professor John Willinsky, Director of PKP. The second workshop, hosted by CPUT and the NRF, dealt with the creation and management of institutional repositories; this was facilitated by Andrea Bollini, Chief Technology Innovation Officer at 4Science in Italy. The third workshop, hosted by UCT Libraries, was titled “Legislation, copyright and funder agreements”, and led by copyright scholars Dr Dick Kawooya (University of South Carolina, Columbia), and Dr Tobias Schonwetter and Professor Caroline Ncube (both of UCT). Many of the presentations of the speakers are available for download.

At the Symposium, the keynote speakers included former Judge Albie Sachs, Professor Bernard Rentier [of University of Liège], Professor Herbet van de Sompel [of Los Alamos National Laboratory], and Dr Lorraine Haricombe of the University of Texas Libraries. Albie’s (as he insisted on being called) advice to young people, “to find that ‘SPARC’...”, presaged the main outcome of the symposium, the resolve to establish and make visible SPARC Africa as a body to help consolidate the Open Movement in Africa. Albie observed that the Open Movement is not a large one, but it is a strong one.

Attended by approximately 100 delegates, with more than 10 African countries represented, the Symposium culminated with SPARC Africa’s inaugural open strategic planning session. The most significant ‘take-aways’ from the Symposium were strategies for empowerment and innovation for the betterment of society. Delegates left with an appreciation of what Openness means in an African context and more than a few expressed the intention to mobilise the Open Agenda within their home institutions.

--- written by Jeremiah Pietersen (member of the local organising committee)

SPARC Africa delegation

Conversation with Judge Albie Sachs. Pictured, Dr Reggie Raju (Deputy Director, UCT Libraries and Interim Chair of SPARC Africa) and Heather Joseph (Executive Director of SPARC)