Academic Librarians, Open Access, and the Ethics of Care
This paper explores the value of applying the ethics of care to scholarly communications work, particularly that of open-access (OA) librarians. The ethics of care is a feminist philosophical perspective that sees in the personal a new way to approach other facets of life, including the political and the professional. Care, in this context, is broadly construed as “a species of activity that includes everything we do to maintain, contain, and repair our ‘world’ so that we can live in it as well as possible” (Fisher & Tronto, 1990, p. 40). Joan Tronto outlined four elements of care: attentiveness, responsibility, competence, and responsiveness, and highlighted the value of care beyond the domestic sphere (1993). The ethics of care values care and relationships as instructive ways of framing and examining work, and has been applied in diverse disciplines, including education, nursing, social work, and even business. Several LIS professionals have considered the ethics of care in the context of library technologies (Henry, 2016) and digital humanities (Dohe, 2019), among others. The ethics of care can also provide inspiration for OA librarians as we think about the scope and nature of our work. What could open access librarians learn from the ethics of care? How might our practice change or evolve with the ethics of care as an underpinning philosophy? Who do we include in our circle of care while we undertake our work? The ethics of care provides a more expansive way to think about OA librarianship.
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