One of my favourite albums in high school was The Decibels‘ Create Action. (They had a brief reunion in 2013. You might be able to see me dancing to their cover of “That’s When Happiness Began” by the Grains of Sand in this video.) The title track, “Create Action”, is a good anthem of actually doing something. Yesterday when I was writing about SLA signing on to COAR, this song popped into my head. (A nice departure from “Wichita Lineman” which is usually in there.) That’s it for the rock and roll lesson.
So the good news from yesterday is that this morning I received an email from Doug Newcomb, Deputy CEO of SLA, that the association has joined all of those other groups and signed on to the COAR letter denouncing Elsevier’s new sharing policy. This is fantastic and I really appreciate that SLA took this action. I will renew my membership this month after all! You know what I’m happiest about though? Not just that they’re taking a stand for members on an issue that directly affects our mission and values, but that they responded to my letter.
Building upon my earlier post about showing you’re a radical through action, one of the most important ways to affect change is to speak up and create action. I don’t know if groups like ALA, SLA, SPARC, the EFF speaking out against the new Elsevier policy will make them change their mind but not speaking up will definitely yield no change. It’s why I took the time to write to the SLA Board of Directors and the Public Policy Advisory Council to ask them and take action on the issue rather than just leave it at my snarky, dismayed tweet. The tweet alone would have just been a small public stunt that would be lost in the void and there would most likely not be any further action. Emailing a lot of people I knew who could and probably would actually do something created the action.
This is a skill I think we all need to develop – the ability to listen to our conscience and speak up. In the case of this issue, it wasn’t just saying, “Hey! SLA, do something!” but taking the time to figure out appropriate channels and craft a message they will be receptive to while still communicating my intent. It’s totally a “the change your want to see” idea. There’s still a lot of work to do around the issues facing publishers, authors, and libraries with regards to Open Access. (John Dupuis just posted a good summary of where we are with the Elsevier policy.) So create action.