Students Recognized as New SPARC Innovators

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Jennifer McLennan

SPARC highlights five students for leadership and activism on open access

For Immediate Release
December 11, 2007
For more information, contact:
Jennifer McLennan
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
(202) 296-2296 ext 121

Washington, DC – December 11, 2007 – SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) has recognized five student leaders as the new SPARC Innovators. Hailed as “Agents of Change,” students point to the promise of a more open system for information sharing.

December’s SPARC Innovators include:

• “The Technologist,” Benjamin Mako Hill. Graduate of the MIT Media Lab, current Researcher at the Sloan School of Management at MIT, Fellow in the MIT Center for Future Civic Media, and engineer of the 2007 “Overprice Tags” project at the MIT library.

• “The Professional,” Gavin Baker. Political Studies graduate of the University of Florida, Open Access Director for Students for Free Culture, and co-mastermind of the National Day of Action for Open Access, February 2007.

• “The Politician,” Nick Shockey. Current undergraduate and Student Senator at Trinity University in San Antonio and author of the second-ever student senate resolution in favor of public access to publicly funded research results.

• “The Diplomat,” Elizabeth Stark. Student of Law at Harvard University, Affiliate of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, founder of Harvard Free Culture, and architect of one of the first student free thesis repositories.

• “The Evangelist,” Nelson Pavlosky. Law student at George Mason University, co-founder of Students for Free Culture, and ally of the Student Global AIDS Campaign and Universities Allied for Essential Medicines.

“Despite different backgrounds and interests, these students share a common interest in ensuring ease of access and use of electronic information,” said SPARC Director Heather Joseph. “As members of a generation raised with the Internet, sharing is second nature to them. When it comes to open access, they just get it.”

The December SPARC Innovator profile is the first of several student-centered initiatives from SPARC. The January SPARC-ACRL forum at ALA will explore “Working with the Facebook Generation: Student Engagement on Access to Scholarship” and will feature the winners of the first SPARKY awards for student videos illustrating the value of sharing. The forum will also mark the introduction of a dedicated SPARC campaign to engage students on the topic of open access.

“The more we have the opportunity to work with students, the more we see their creativity and commitment to opening access not only to research, but to textbooks, software, and information of all kinds,” said Diane Graves, University Librarian at Trinity University. “It’s a pleasure as well as a learning experience to collaborate with these Innovators and their peers on these issues.”

To read the December SPARC Innovator profile, visit the SPARC Innovator Web page at

The SPARC Innovator program recognizes advances in scholarly communication realized by an individual, institution, or group. Typically, these advances exemplify SPARC principles by challenging the status quo in scholarly communication for the benefit of researchers, libraries, universities, and the public. SPARC Innovators are featured on the SPARC Web site semi-annually and have included Ted and Carl Bergstrom; Melissa Hagemann of the Open Society Institute; the University of California; and Herbert Van de Sompel of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. SPARC Innovators are named by the SPARC staff in consultation with the SPARC Steering Committee.

Individuals can nominate their colleagues as potential SPARC Innovators at

For further information or a list of previous SPARC Innovators, please see the SPARC Web site at



SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of more than 800 academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC’s advocacy, educational, and publisher partnership programs encourage expanded dissemination of research. SPARC is on the Web at