By: Nontobeko Moimane – 27 October 2023

The Vaal University of Technology (VUT) Library recently played a pivotal role in facilitating the highly anticipated Open Access Week webinar themed “Community over Commercialisation.” This event served as a unifying platform, bringing together the esteemed VUT academics and the dedicated suppliers of the VUT Library.

In an age where information and knowledge sharing are paramount, the VUT library made a resounding statement by embracing the principles of open access. The theme, “Community over Commercialisation,” underscored the library’s commitment to fostering a sense of togetherness and collaboration within the academic community, prioritizing accessibility to knowledge over profit-driven motives.

The webinar proved to be a remarkable opportunity for both VUT academics and library suppliers to engage in meaningful discourse. It allowed the academics to gain insights into the latest developments in the realm of open access, encouraging them to explore innovative ways of sharing their research and educational materials. Additionally, the webinar offered suppliers a chance to understand the unique needs of the academic community and adapt their services accordingly.

The webinar was addressed by several distinguished speakers. Anthony Ogazi, a postgraduate student was invited to share his personal journey as an emerging author, providing valuable insights into his experiences. Additionally, Professor Kaitano Dube, a globally recognised author and VUT’s Acting Research Professor, offered a candid account of his journey, including the challenges and experiences associated with publishing through Open Access.

Furthermore, the event featured presentations from four service providers who elaborated on the platforms they offer to authors, shedding light on VUT’s relationships and agreements with them. The service providers included:

  • Michael Willis from Wiley, who discussed the importance of building research communities.
  • John Sterley from Elsevier, who focused on supporting the Open Access journey in South Africa.
  • Caretha Nel from Emerald, emphasizing the theme of “Community over Commercialisation.”
  • Phillip de Kock from Springer Nature, who provided insights into Open Access opportunities specific to South Africa.

These informative presentations collectively enriched the webinar, offering a comprehensive perspective on Open Access, author experiences, and the crucial services available to the academic community, making it a highly valuable and insightful event.

The VUT library’s decision to host this event exemplifies its dedication to not only providing resources but also actively shaping the scholarly discourse within the community. It demonstrated a commitment to ensuring that knowledge is readily accessible, reflecting the ethos of open access and emphasising the importance of unity over commercial interests.

This webinar was a testament to the VUT library’s role as a central hub for knowledge dissemination and its unyielding support for the academic community in their pursuit of collective growth and advancement. By choosing “Community over Commercialisation”, it sent a strong message that the institution values the power of cooperation and shared knowledge above all else.