Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, January 15, 2010

Housekeeping: Good bye to Gavin Baker

Gavin Baker joined Open Access News as assistant editor in February 2008, two weeks shy of two years ago.  When he started, there was already too much news for me to cover alone.  His help was indispensable to the blog and to me personally.  After July 2009, when I took a new position and had to curtail my own blogging, he carried virtually the whole, still-growing load at OAN on his own.  Today is his last day, and OAN will not be the same.

Gavin was highly qualified for this job on Day One.  As I described his background in my blog post introducing him to my readers (February 3, 2008):

Gavin is the founder of the Open Students, the only blog about OA directed to students.  He's also the force behind The Right to Research, the SPARC web site on the student campaign for OA, and the author of some first-rate blog posts (one, two, three), presentations (one, two, three), and articles on OA.  When he was still a student, he co-founded the Florida chapter of Free Culture, and organized a successful campaign to get the University of Florida Student Senate to adopt a strong resolution in support of OA.  It's no surprise that when SPARC honored the student campaign for OA with its Innovator Award in December 2007, it singled out five students as notable agents of change and named Gavin "The Professional".  He was interviewed last week in Library Journal Academic Newswire.

In the past two years, his understanding of this topic and the worldwide campaign behind it grew even further, embodied in a daily stream of succinct posts.  Behind the scenes he was skilled and dogged at the time-consuming tasks required to blog well:  finding the relevant policies of the journals, publishers, projects, institutions, or countries we were covering; discovering whether a development in the news was really new; deciphering gibberish and PR-speak and restating it clearly; gaining access to articles that were not OA; understanding stories or documents not written in English; finding URLs for items to which we'd like to link; and reading long documents in order to select the most relevant excerpts.  When a news article or press release was vague on a point important to us and our readers, Gavin often took the initiative to ask the right questions and track down people who might be in a position to answer.

His work at OAN --as well as the OA tracking project-- has been valuable to me, our readers, and the wider OA movement.  I'm grateful to him and wish him the best in the next chapters of his life and career, starting with graduate school in the fall.


Postscript 1.  For an idea of what he's been up to, see his article, Open access: Advice on working with faculty senates, published just this week in the January issue of College & Research Libraries News.

Postscript 2.  I'll soon post more on the future of OAN itself.