We are trained these days to dread “unintended consequences” whenever we make decisions; it is a fear that sometimes leads to paralysis. But not all unintended consequences are negative, and I want to take a moment to celebrate some unexpected things that have resulted from the adoption of an open access policy by the Duke University faculty back in March.
The two biggest consequences so far have been a flurry of activity in the Duke Libraries and some welcome attention from outside the University.
In the latter category, this interview with Paolo Mangiafico, which was posted recently on opensource.com, is a superb summary of the rationale behind the policy and the steps we are taking to implement it. Paolo, in his rather unique position at Duke as Director of Digital Information Strategy, provided the leadership that was necessary to organize, draft and advocate for the open access policy. Paolo himself is a unique combination of high-level IT skills with a deep understanding of policy options and consequences, and his description of our OA policy is as articulate as any I have seen.
In the interview, Paolo talks about the decisions that must now be made, both as a matter of technological infrastructure and in terms of re-imagining library services. Thus his interview nicely encapsulates the reasons behind that flurry of activity I spoke of above.
Another particularly exciting consequence for me personally has been an invitation to speak at the the 8th Berlin Conference on Open Access on the legal issues involved in open access. The invitation letter clearly indicates that Duke’s new policy is one of the reasons for this opportunity, and I am honored to be invited to this influential gathering, which drafted the Berlin Declaration on Open Access back in 2003. In 2010, the Berlin Conference will be held in Beijing, China, which deepens my excitement, both because I have never been to China and because of the opportunities the conference offers to learn about the progress of the open access movement in Asia (although the activities of SPARC Japan are already well-known). I hope I shall see many friends from North America and Europe in Beijing, and I look forward to the opportunity to meet many new colleagues and friends.
Sometimes unintended consequences offer really delightful surprises.