Can you believe it? The Open Access Books Network (OABN) turns three this year. It seems like it was only yesterday that we showed you our one-year achievement postcard with a sprouting spring onion on it. And as we enter year four of the network’s existence, we are no longer as green. Over the past few years, we have made new connections, gained new members, and created a community we are proud of. Today, as we celebrate the third anniversary of the OABN, let’s look at the milestones we achieved on this journey.
2019: The Seed Is Planted
The vision for OABN was conceived in a bar in Marseille, where a group of open access books aficionados dreamt about a space dedicated to OA books. They had good ideas but needed people to get them off the ground.
2020: First Steps
In September 2020 we officially launched OABN, setting forth a platform to exchange experiences with OA books, learn, and grow together as a community. We started as a modest group led by three coordinators: Lucy Barnes from Open Book Publishers, Tom Mosterd from DOAB/OAPEN, and Agata Morka from Open Book Publishers back then (now representing SPARC Europe). These three Musketeers also had good ideas (and far too many of them), and were eager to put their time (of which they had far too little) into making them into a reality. 2020 was the year of the first, sometimes wobbly, steps: setting up an event series, creating OABN’s online presence, and first direct engagements with our members.
2021: Spreading Wings
In 2021 we were busy working on two series. Firstly, the Voices From the OA Books Community acted as a platform to discuss the future of possible policies for OA books. We were stunned that over 400 people participated in these discussions. Later that year, we launched the OA Books Workouts: Scholars at Work, hosted by Jeroen Sondervan, where we presented innovative OA book projects and how scholars went about developing and publishing them. It was also the year we participated in our first event in Latin America (Brazil), which was especially important for us, as we wanted to develop relationships in other regions in addition to Europe (something we are still working on).
2022: Making Connections
For Open Access Week 2021 and continuing into 2022, we launched the OA Mythbusters. Through this video series, the OABN community sought to dispel several key myths about OA books. In these short videos, fellow community members, informally known as ‘the OA Mythbusters’, addressed misconceptions about open access books, such as their alleged low quality, lack of print copies, or author’s control over material released under the CC BY licence.
In April of that year, we took a big step, moving under the welcoming OPERAS umbrella and becoming one of their Special Interest Groups (SIGs, for short). This has solidified the OABN’s place in the European academic and open access books ecosystem and strengthened our relationships with people and organisations in the region.
2023: Forming New Partnerships and Seeking Feedback
At the beginning of 2023, we were thrilled to announce our participation in PALOMERA, for which OABN serves as an essential communications platform, supporting the project in its efforts to understand the current landscape of OA books policies and formulating recommendations for future alignment in that space in the European Research Area (ERA).
We also welcomed a new Musketeer on the coordinators team; as Tom left, Silke Davison joined and we are lucky to have this new energetic voice on board.
Speaking of new voices: we asked the community for your feedback on the OABN between July and September in our (not a) survey, seeking to understand how you use the network and how we can best support your work with OA books. We are now collating all responses to our (not a) survey, and your insights will guide our future direction and improvements.
We keep growing
Our community has been the backbone of OABN, and the numbers reflect the strength and growth we’ve achieved together. We are proud to see 447 Humanities Commons group members, 1,403 Twitter (X) followers, and 339 mailing list members. We have put together 33 events, ranging from informal Open Cafes where we chat on all things OA books while sipping coffees, to crowded Voices workshops where we reflected on what policies for OA books should look like. We have written 43 blog posts, talking about our events and inviting members of the community to share their experiences on topics including platforms for publishing OA books (the Publisher Spotlight series), on issues with metadata for OA books, and about how libraries can assess different funding programmes for OA books. These figures represent the pulse, the energy, and the commitment of our OABN community. And it is to this community that we owe our success: your contributions, support, and engagement have shaped OABN, making it THE place to discuss the future of OA books, a place to test, innovate, and sometimes share a good laugh on top. Thank you for helping us grow!
Cheers to three years and counting!
The Open Access Books Network Team
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.