Open Access Week: Profile of Sarah Shreeves

I have intentionally steered Book of Trogool away from open access. I still believe in it; I still work for it. Toward the waning days of Caveat Lector, however, it became clear that I was shedding more heat than light on the subject, so I made a conscious decision not to repeat that mistake here.

This is, however, Open Access Week. I would feel rather churlish about ignoring that, especially since I was speaking yesterday for the occasion. What I'll do, then, is try to set a radical example I wish others in the open-access movement would follow: I'm going to celebrate a librarian.

Her name is Sarah Shreeves, and she works for the University of Illinois, where she runs the IDEALS institutional repository and has just accepted the post of Scholarly Commons coordinator.

Sarah has built IDEALS the hard but honest way. No gimmicks, no big behind-the-scenes uploads, no lofty unmanageable promises, not even ETDs until just recently. Sarah forges relationships. Sarah puts her energy behind useful software development. Sarah gives good service. That's what Sarah does. IDEALS isn't the largest IR out there, but in all honesty, when I pull something to read for myself out of an IR, more often than not IDEALS is its source. That says something about the quality of the material therein.

In fun, I often call myself Sarah's evil twin, as our thoughts about open access and institutional repositories often dovetail. Sarah's genius is that quietly but inexorably, she makes those thoughts not only known, but the coin of the realm, changing minds so deftly that they hardly know they've been changed.

I have seen Sarah present, and been privileged to sit on a conference panel with her. Her style is unassuming, unthreatening—but don't let that fool you: what she says will challenge you, and she never accepts received wisdom at face value.

Sarah takes bold steps to establish open access and related issues firmly in the canons of librarianship. She co-edited the institutional-repository issue of Library Trends that came out earlier this year, and she was the one to request an article from me, the article that turned out to be "Innkeeper at the Roach Motel." She is also ultimately behind Illinois's support of BibApp.

This is a poor tribute at best; when the history of open access is written as it should be written, Sarah will occupy many pages therein. For this Open Access Week, I salute Sarah and her many accomplishments.

More like this


Sarah has also been wonderful to work with for the last 4 years. She's definitely an often unsung hero in the repository / open access movement. IDEALS, the new U of Illinois ETD system, and BibApp definitely wouldn't have made it as far as they have without her involvement and connections. DSpace software, itself, has also benefited from her willingness to speak out as a voice for the needs of repository managers.

In many ways, I also feel I wouldn't have come as far as I have within the DSpace / repository community, without her constant support and "campaigning" for the importance of our work (both locally and globally).

So, I salute Sarah alongside you!

By Tim Donohue (not verified) on 20 Oct 2009 #permalink

Kudos Sarah! And kudos Dorothea for championing one of our own!

By Molly Keener (not verified) on 20 Oct 2009 #permalink

Simply put, Sarah rocks! Salut.

Thanks, Dorothea! I have a permanent blush (and grin) on right now. I'll just add that having real, tangible administrative support and amazing technical staff (Tim, looking at you) have been crucial to getting IDEALS to where it is now. And having colleagues like you has been so helpful to my thinking, presenting, and writing around IRs and scholarly communications. So thank you!

By Sarah Shreeves (not verified) on 20 Oct 2009 #permalink

I absolutely agree, Sarah contributes heavily to my conception of an ideal repository manager (no pun). I think her knowledge of, and involvement in, both the practical and research aspects of OA/repositories allows her to choose the right battles and maintain forward momentum without making those "unmanageable promises". I often use lessons I have learned from working with her and the successes of IDEALS and BibApp are an inspiration. Sarah, I'm proud to know you.

By Matt Cordial (not verified) on 20 Oct 2009 #permalink

I work for an OA repository west of you guys and I loved reading this! I will look at your site.

Sarah does indeed ROCK!

By Meg Fryling (not verified) on 30 Oct 2009 #permalink