Do Something

There’s been a lot of discussion about Aaron Swartz’s suicide and the case against him, especially in the library world. Aaron worked towards opening information – from his work on RSS 1.0 to his work on the Open Library. There have been some great posts about Aaron and his work – be sure to check them out.

I remember first hearing about the case against Aaron and it left my mind as I focused on my own work. I didn’t think about it much, but I’ve been thinking a lot more about it since his death.

The one that has me thinking is a post by Jonathan Rochkind over at Bibliographic Wilderness. He makes some great points but the line that many seems to resonate with many is

But I know that a few other libraries or librarians were standing with Swartz, and we all should have been, and we largely did not, and it’s a shame.

Aaron was doing what we, as librarians, say we want to do. We didn’t support him while he was alive, and it is a shame. So, let’s do something about it. Let’s support the work he was doing by taking it up ourselves. No, I’m not saying we should all go and download thousands of journals. His death does have many of us talking about open access and scholarly communication. #pdftribute has started taking off – let’s keep it up. If you have an IR, now’s a great time to remind faculty about it. The Internet Archive has also started the Aaron Swartz Collection, for those without their own institutional repository.

Let’s not let the momentum go, let’s actually start doing something. We’re great at the talking, but not great at the doing. Aaron was a doer – let’s try to be more like him.


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